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South Florida Road Trip

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421.1 miles: 10 hours, 36 minutes
Beach destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Fort Myers boast the stately palms, tropical vegetation and warm turquoise waters associated with the Florida of innumerable glossy tourist brochures. In between coasts there’s a totally different state: swampy marshlands, vast rangelands, wide open skies and one big lake.
1
Fort Lauderdale to Naples
143.3 miles: 2 hours, 51 minutes
Before embarking on this cross-state trek, navigate the network of canals that give Fort Lauderdale its nickname, the Venice of America, on a riverboat cruise, water taxi or vintage Italian gondola. As you traverse the marshlands and mangrove forests of Big Cypress National Preserve, you can watch for wildlife that includes alligators, egrets, deer and herons.
2
Naples to Sanibel
52.2 miles: 1 hours, 34 minutes
Naples boasts miles of alabaster beaches lapped by warm, gentle waves. On the way to Sanibel, you’ll pass manicured golf courses as well as scenery that’s on the watery side. Crossing San Carlos Bay over Sanibel Causeway ($6 toll westbound, free eastbound), there’s a glimpse of the Sanibel Lighthouse.
3
Sanibel to Fort Myers
28.6 miles: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Beachcombing is an immensely popular “sport” in Sanibel, where more than 250 kinds of shells can be found. You’re sure to collect a treasure trove doing the “Sanibel stoop.” Enjoy the view as you cross the causeway over San Carlos Bay on your way to Fort Myers. The towering royal palms lining McGregor Boulevard are a city trademark.
4
Fort Myers to Palm Beach
132.4 miles: 2 hours, 54 minutes
The flat cross-state stretch between Fort Myers and Palm Beach is dotted with clumps of cabbage palms, fields of crops and small towns. After skirting past the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee, you’re back to the east coast and the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach. Celebrate your return to civilization with some shopping along fancy Worth Avenue.
5
Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale
64.7 miles: 2 hours, 13 minutes
Scenic A1A meanders enticingly close to the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway all the way to Fort Lauderdale. Stop at the seafood restaurant of your choice for waterfront views and enjoy the fresh air either dockside or beachfront dining.