With sprawling beaches, a riveting South Beach nightlife, various displays of artwork, luxury hotels, outdoor activities galore and the energizing Little Havana, Miami is bursting with flavor.
But living in one of the world’s hottest vacation destinations has its downsides too. As travellers flock to Miami, you may want to start mapping your escape route. Or maybe you’re one of those travellers visiting the south Florida hotspot. Either way, there is so much to see—and it’s only a drive away.
Pack your bags and stop by Miles Car Rental before you leave Miami. Once your rental car is ready, head to one of these five spots, each of which has an interesting drive and captivating final destination.
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Charleston, South Carolina
The drive from Miami to Charleston takes you up Florida’s eastern coastline, but skip over Florida’s beach towns in exchange for some historical Southern charm. You’ll want to make pit stops in Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina if you have the time.
When you reach Charleston, prepare for a magical experience in a town that doesn’t age. With old-fashioned cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, horse-drawn carriages, pastel-colored houses and sprawling plantations surrounding the city, it’s a unique city filled with charm.
Though its nine hours from Miami, the drive is worth it for the city’s unique aesthetics and landmarks like Fort Sumter National Monument, the Charleston City Market, the Old Exchange Building, Battery Park’s waterside mansions, the Dock Street Theatre, the South Carolina Aquarium, the Old Slave Mart Museum and the Nathaniel Russell House. A walking tour is a great way to see this town.
Along the same path to Charleston lies Jacksonville, Florida, a large city located near the northern border. This is a great option for those looking for a shorter drive—you can make it from Miami to Jacksonville in about five hours.
At the intersection of the Atlantic and St. John’s River, Jacksonville has beautiful landscapes, a booming cultural scene and plenty of things to do. Whether it’s a tour of the Budweiser Brewery, a cruise down the river or a trip to a world-class golf course, hobbyists of all sorts will enjoy this beachy city.
Jacksonville has the largest urban park system in the country as well as places for hiking, biking and camping. The city is also home to the Jacksonville Zoo, which also has a garden, and the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. Take to the water for fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding or surfing.
Other things to see include the Renaissance paintings at the Cummer Museum, shows at the historic Florida Theatre, the grounds of the Kingsley Plantation and Fort Mose, where free Africans lived as they fought enslavement in the 1700s.
New Orleans, Louisiana
While this 12-hour trip is the longest on this list, New Orleans is always worth the trek. The vibrancy of the Big Easy is unrivaled—especially for those looking to get out and enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Start in the heart of the city. The French Quarter is constantly brimming with activity. Bourbon Street, the city’s party hub, is lined with bars and street performers. Also in the French Quarter, you’ll find the William Faulkner House, Jackson Square and mule-drawn carriage tours.
New Orleans is filled with museums as well. If you’re not in town for Mardi Gras, Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is a must. Go behind the scenes of the world-famous festival, with currently-being-worked-on floats and costumes as well as old items from past years. Other notable museums include the Backstreet Cultural Museum, the Audubon Nature Institute, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the National World War II Museum.
Don’t leave before digging in to some of the city’s renowned cuisine. Whether it’s gumbo, jambalaya, poboys, crawfish or deep-fried beignets, the New Orleans culinary scene is incredible.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida
While the Keys are definitely the most popular islands in Florida, there is another set of islands that deserve some recognition—and they’re less than three hours from Miami. The drive takes you right through the Everglades, making it one of the prettiest drives on this list.
Located on the state’s western coast, Sanibel and Captiva Islands have small, laidback towns that are perfect for a relaxing getaway. Sanibel Island’s beaches are covered in seashells and there is a functioning lighthouse on the beach on the very eastern tip of the island. Bowman’s Beach is another great spot on Captiva; with no hotels, it’s pristine and quiet and is the perfect place to launch kayaks or canoes.
On Captiva Island, Turner Beach at Blind Pass is ideal for fishing while Alison Hagerup Beach Park is the best place on either island to watch the sun set.
With such a pristine location, there are naturally some incredible wildlife-related museums and preserves. Visit the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum or the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
Atlanta has a rich history, defined mostly by the Civil War and the famed Civil Rights Movement from the 1960s. A trip to the city means a chance to visit Martin Luther King Jr.’s home, the Atlanta History Center, the Carter Center’s presidential library, the Atlanta History Center and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Overall, the city is packed with activities and things to see. Plan to stay here for a while or you’ll miss out on some stellar attractions. From art, football and aerospace museums to cemeteries, markets, parks and theatres, there is plenty to do. Atlanta is also home to the World of Coca-Cola, an electric music scene and various craft beer festivals.
The drive takes you up the middle of both Florida and Georgia, offering a different alternative to the eastern and western routes from the other options. Driving time to Atlanta is roughly nine hours, but the city is definitely a must-see.