Author Topic: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler  (Read 1103 times)

mucstache

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One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« on: October 13, 2018, 10:23:51 AM »
Fellow mustachians,

We (a family of three including a then 6 month old baby) will be spending a month in Florida during March next year. Mainly we are looking to escape the German winter and load up on sun.

Would highly appreciate your thoughts:

- Where to go and how long to spend at each place (looking for a relaxed trip, longer stays in most locations)

- How to best get around (rental car for the entire duration?)

- How to get good bargains on accommodations and travel (flights are already taken care of)

- Where to eat out (healthy food) - find eating out rather expensive in the US

- Any other recommendations for our situation

Thanks a lot in advance!

Best
MUCstache

gatortator

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2018, 10:49:46 AM »
Welcome!

- ... (flights are already taken care of)....

 which city are you flying into?  It may help to narrow some of the suggestions since you are looking for a more relaxed trip.



mucstache

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2018, 10:56:12 AM »
Thanks! Flying to and from Miami Intl.

Khaetra

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2018, 10:56:34 AM »
You will need a rental car for getting around (mass transit is not even close to what you folks have).  March is a busy time of year down here, with spring break and whatnot, so finding someplace cheap isn't going to be easy.  Some questions:

1. Where do you want to go and what do you want to see?

2. How long do you want to stay in one place?

3. Are you going to hit tourist-traps (Disney, Universal, etc.) or check out towns, destinations (Keys, Tampa, etc.)?

The eating out question will depend solely on where you are going/staying and can't be easily answered until you have that figured out.  Same with accommodations.  A lot more info is needed so those of us who live here can help :).

mucstache

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2018, 11:09:27 AM »
Thanks. So far our idea is:

Miami Beach upon arrival for maybe 3-4 nights.
The keys for 4-5 nights (key west or another one?)
Everglades for one day (airboat etc)
Then on to the gulf coast: Naples etc

Probably then make our way north and then across, maybe passing Orlando for a short visit to Disney World. But not particularly important to us.

Kennedy space center would be nice.

Most important to us: Sun, beach, relax. Good food. Walkable areas for exploring by foot (at least most of the time).

Ideally we would like to stay 3+ days in most locations (some exceptions with one night are ok). Even more in e.g., a nice beach town.

EDIT: I do have about 5-8 days worth of hotel points at Hyatt. Will want to use those as well for the most expensive / nicest / busiest places and times.

Does this help? Thanks a lot in advance!
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 11:11:19 AM by mucstache »

yourusernamehere

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2018, 01:39:23 PM »
As Khaetra mentioned, beware of spring break - March is usually peak, so you'll be paying top prices and dealing with rowdy crowds in most beach areas and destinations. You may want to start booking your hotels now. Some Florida residents here on the boards may be able to point you toward less touristy areas. (I just moved to the area between Orlando and Tampa less than a month ago from the northeast US, so I'm not really sure yet.) Before we moved here we watched a lot of YouTube videos about things to do in the area and I think that was really helpful.

On the gulf coast I really like St. Petersburg (historic St. Petersburg, not the slightly more southern St. Pete's Beach) and the Clearwater area. On the Atlantic side, Kennedy is pretty awesome and relatively inexpensive. Buy your tickets online and they'll be cheaper than at the door, even if you do it from your mobile device that day. Also you can sign up for their launch notification emails and maybe you'll get lucky

Khaetra

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2018, 03:54:06 PM »
Thanks. So far our idea is:

Miami Beach upon arrival for maybe 3-4 nights.
The keys for 4-5 nights (key west or another one?)
Everglades for one day (airboat etc)
Then on to the gulf coast: Naples etc

Probably then make our way north and then across, maybe passing Orlando for a short visit to Disney World. But not particularly important to us.

Kennedy space center would be nice.

Most important to us: Sun, beach, relax. Good food. Walkable areas for exploring by foot (at least most of the time).

Ideally we would like to stay 3+ days in most locations (some exceptions with one night are ok). Even more in e.g., a nice beach town.

EDIT: I do have about 5-8 days worth of hotel points at Hyatt. Will want to use those as well for the most expensive / nicest / busiest places and times.

Does this help? Thanks a lot in advance!

Miami Beach I would grab for one night only.  Get you're rental, leave early in the morning and head towards the Keys.  Take your time down, the drive is beautiful!  Grab a place to stay here for the night (plenty of restaurants to choose from).  Next day, I would see the Hemingway House and Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum.  Make sure you stop at Cuban Coffee Queen!  Best coffee in the Keys and the only time I ever woke up early on vacation to walk two miles to get some. 

There's really not much to do in the Keys that don't involve diving/snorkling/fishing/drinking (oh geez...so much drinking!), so I would start heading back, grabbing a room in Key Largo (I stayed at the Hampton Inn and there's a great restaurant across the street) for the night (look for Iguana's in the trees!) and make your way towards the Everglades in the morning.

After having fun in the 'Glades, I would spend some time on the west coast, working your way up to Tampa/St. Pete (I would recommend using Trip Advisor to check out what to do in those areas and get reviews/prices for lodging and food).  Then make your way over to the middle of the state for Disney* and any of the other attractions you may be interested in.  After Mickey has emptied your pockets ;), head over my way to take in the beaches and the Space Center (that is much more worth it than Disney imo), then head back south for your trip home.

*If you want a small taste of Disney on the cheap, head over to Disney Springs, their shopping mecca.  I know, shopping and mustachian don't go together, but there are a number of places for photo-ops with you're little one that are free and it is a nice place to walk around.  You can always catch a Disney bus and head over to a monorail hotel (Contemporary) and ride to each hotel to check them out, or catch a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge (not the park!) to check out the free-roaming animals they have that are part of the Animal Kingdom Park. 

Trifele

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2018, 05:35:00 PM »

Most important to us: Sun, beach, relax.


If that is what you are after, I recommend Sanibel on the gulf coast.  If I had a month to spend in Florida I'd spend at least a week of it there -- maybe two.  A huge portion of the island is nature preserve, and the beaches are gorgeous. Enjoy!

MayDay

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2018, 08:51:47 AM »
I was just in Miami and the keys for work.

The keys are pretty bit there isn't much to do besides boat and drink. There really aren't many beaches, so keep that in mind.

We ate at Sundowners on Key Largo and it was great. My pasta and veg dish was like 12$ but meat and alcohol will increase the price considerably.

gatortator

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2018, 10:43:13 AM »
Thanks! Flying to and from Miami Intl.

Most of what I know is northern and central Florida,  so my suggestions won't be helpful other than a few general tips...

March is baseball spring training season in Florida with games/leagues on both the Gulf side and Atlantic side.  If you are interested in attending a game, some stadiums have cheap lawn tickets where you can spread out a blanket and let the little one roll around or sleep while you catch a game.  The games and atmosphere in the stands are more laid back than regular season games.

March is strawberry season in Florida-- local Florida strawberries are yummy!.  As you drive into more of the central Florida region,  you will see roadside stands selling them for low prices. 

Publix is a local grocery store chain with a reliable deli for easy picnic food.

Aminul

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2018, 07:19:02 AM »
If you find yourself near Tampa, I found the Manatee Viewing Center to be interesting.  It's free and wasn't all that far from the highway if I remember correctly. 

https://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc/


mucstache

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2018, 07:15:50 AM »
Wow, thanks a lot guys for all your suggestions!

The west coast seems to be really packed with great places. How long would you spend in each of the following?

Naples
Fort Myers / Cape Coral
Sanibel Island (1 week?)
St Petersburg
Clearwater

+ am I missing something on the west coast?

(Looking for nice walkable cities + nice beaches)

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: One month Florida roadtrip with toddler
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2018, 08:59:53 AM »
I don't have much Florida advice (other than you should definitely try to see some manatees while there!), but I do have "slow travel" advice. Also Sanibel is gorgeous.

Don't stay in hotels (other than using your points in pricey places). Use airbnb to book apartments with a kitchen for your longer term stays. With young kids it is hard to go out to eat all the time, and as you mentioned, eating out is expensive. I certainly like to do some eating out when I travel, but when it gets to be more than once a day it becomes a bit much. When we travel for a month or more we usually do simple breakfasts at home, picnic lunches, and then a nice dinner out. Sometimes lunch out makes more sense, and then we'll just make a big salad or a simple pasta for dinner.

I don't eat much fast food, but I like Subway, where you can get very affordable sandwiches that have tons of fresh veggies on them. My husband and I split a foot long veggie sub and it is ~5$.