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Central Florida

230.1 miles: 5 hours, 55 minutes

Though the region’s theme parks claim their fair share of the attention, Central Florida contains more characters than just the costumed kind. Instead, an increasing amount of visitors are choosing to learn about the interesting people, historic places and scenic vistas that make up the Sunshine State—simply by staying off the well-traveled highways.


Tampa to Lake Wales

76.6 miles: 2 hours, 0 minutes

AAA/Sherry Mims

Since you want to see another side of Central Florida, consider some smaller attractions in addition to major hot spots. Downtown Tampa, Ybor City and Channelside—all of which you’ll pass on the way out—make for a fun evening interlude with theaters, bars and game centers vying for attention. If nightlife is a no-go, however, be sure to stop by one of the many diverse restaurants in Tampa before continuing on to Lake Wales, where you can encounter an enchanting landscape. The optical illusion known as Spook Hill, for example, is well worth a pit stop.


Lake Wales to Clermont

69.3 miles: 1 hours, 43 minutes


This is citrus country. You can see acres of orange groves from Iron Mountain, one of the highest points in the state, as well as from the comfort of your own vehicle. So don’t be surprised if you come across businesses selling oranges or trading in on the nostalgia of a time when the whole landscape was scented by orange blossoms. Few things are more associated with Florida than that.


Clermont to Daytona Beach

84.1 miles: 2 hours, 11 minutes Hirtreiter

Continue your journey to the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” aka Daytona Beach, by way of the back roads. Sure, you may think you took a wrong turn somewhere while passing all the groves, pastures and woods, but you’re on track for serious engine envy and fun in the sun. So feel free to revel by the beach or take in the area’s racing history before you toast the end of the day with a frosty libation.


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