The Perfect Tampa to Miami Drive Itinerary (2024 Guide)

Check out our Tampa to Miami drive itinerary! This epic road trip includes all the highlights of the Gulf Coast and South Florida.

Tampa and Miami are two of the most popular beach destinations on mainland Florida.

From the Riverwalk, museums, and sports arenas of downtown Tampa, to the iconic South Beach, nightlife, and cuisine of Miami, the two cities help dominate Florida’s tourism industry.

So if you’re planning to visit both Tampa and Miami during your next visit to Florida, consider a road trip between the two!

A Tampa to Miami drive can be done in as little as half a day. It can also be stretched out into an epic southern Florida road trip! There are so many gorgeous beaches, islands, state parks, and charming coastal towns to check out on a Tampa to Miami drive.

From fishing on the Naples Pier, to exploring Myakka River State Park, to collecting shells on white sand beaches at Marco Island, Sanibel Island, or Captiva Island, there are lots of amazing things to do on this road trip.

If you have a few days to spare, rent a car and take on this amazing road trip! Here is our complete guide for the Tampa to Miami drive, including when to do it and where to stop along the way.

Where to start a Tampa to Miami road trip?

You can easily start this road trip in either Tampa or Miami! Both are major cities in Florida with plenty of amenities for travellers including international airports.

We’ll outline the itinerary beginning in Tampa, but you can easily reverse it if you’re starting in Miami.

For starting in Tampa, fly into Tampa International Airport. There are lots of places to rent a car here which you can use for exploring the Tampa Bay area before starting the road trip.

If you’re starting in Miami, there are also lots of car hire options at the airport and around the city.

Either way, see if you can pick up your car at one destination and drop it off at the other, unless you want to do the whole road trip again in reverse! But most major car rental companies will have offices in both Tampa and Miami. So you should be able to drop the rental car off at another destination.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Best time of year for a Tampa to Miami road trip

Because Florida has a tropical climate, there is no bad time to do a Tampa to Miami drive. You’ll get warm or hot weather year-round, though summer has a much higher chance of thunderstorms. Winter also has cooler temperatures that may not be ideal for beach days!

So the best time for a Tampa to Miami drive is either spring or autumn.

In spring, from March to May you can enjoy warm temperatures ranging from 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C) that are perfect for outdoor activities and beach visits.

Springtime offers blooming wildflowers and generally pleasant weather, providing a scenic and enjoyable drive. The lower humidity and comfortable temperatures make spring an ideal time for exploring the diverse landscapes and vibrant cities of Florida.

Late autumn, from October to November, is also an excellent time for a Tampa to Miami drive.

The weather starts to cool down, with temperatures averaging between 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C), offering a comfortable climate for traveling. This period is also post-hurricane season, which brings a reduced risk of weather disruptions.

Spring and autumn both generally have fewer tourists and lower prices as well, which makes it easier to find accommodations and enjoy attractions without the summer or winter crowds.

See more of the Sunshine State with our list of the 25 Best Things To Do In Florida.

How long is a Tampa to Miami drive?

A straight Tampa to Miami drive with no stops can take as little as 4.5 hours if you stick to the highways.

But if you want to have a more scenic Tampa to Miami drive full of tropical destinations along the way, we recommend stopping at the attractions we’ll list below. This route takes closer to 8 hours, and that’s just the driving time.

2-3 days is a convenient amount of time for a Tampa to Miami drive with the best stops along the way. You can even choose to spend a few nights in cities like Fort Myers or Naples, and we’ll recommend some accommodation options for those who want to extend their road trip.

So you could easily stretch this drive out into a week or more. But you could also do it in one day. It just depends on how much time you have and how long you want to spend in each location!

Tampa City Skyline
Don’t forget to explore Tampa before heading out on your road trip!

Is it worth driving from Tampa to Miami?

It’s definitely worth embarking on a Tampa to Miami drive if you want to take your time soaking in all the natural beauty and culture of South Florida!

Though it’s just a quick flight from Tampa to Miami, a road trip is a much more immersive and exciting way to explore the Sunshine State. You can enjoy a leisurely drive full of pristine sandy beaches, tropical islands, and charming cities and towns.

So if you’re someone who loves slow traveling and outdoor adventures, consider an action-packed Tampa to Miami drive instead of a flight!

Tampa to Miami Drive Itinerary

Here are the best places to stop during your Tampa to Miami drive! Again, you can cater this road trip to suit your schedule, so feel free to add or subtract any of these stops.

But if you have plenty of time, these are the best destinations between Tampa and Miami.

Our road trip itinerary heads south out of Tampa Bay and continues along the southern end of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Once you reach Naples and Marco Island, you’ll start heading inland and go east through the Everglades until you reach Miami.

Most of the attractions are on mainland Florida, plus there are a few island detours to take if you have time. We’ll also quickly go over an alternate itinerary at the end that heads inland from Tampa and goes south down the east coast of Florida towards Miami.

Explore more of Tampa Bay with these amazing day trips!

Tampa Bay Area

Before you embark on your Tampa to Miami drive, make sure you spend at least a few days exploring the gorgeous Tampa Bay. This dynamic city on Florida’s west coast offers a laid-back charm that feels homey and comfortable compared to big cities like Miami or Orlando.

One of the top things to do in Tampa is explore the Tampa Riverwalk, a scenic waterfront pathway that stretches 2.6 miles along the Hillsborough River. Key stops along the Riverwalk include the Tampa Museum of Art, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and the Florida Aquarium.

Or head to north Tampa and experience a thrill at the top-rated Busch Gardens theme park.

Also check out Ybor City, a neighborhood filled with eclectic shops, trendy bars, and some of the best Cuban cuisine outside of Cuba. Visitors can tour the Ybor City Museum State Park to learn about the area’s history and the immigrants who built it.

After seeing the highlights of downtown Tampa, spend a day or two exploring the nearby coastal gems like Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg Beach.

Once you’ve seen the best of the city, head out of Tampa Bay and begin your road trip to Miami!

Save money on the best attractions in Tampa with the CityPASS!

Where to Stay in Tampa

Before the drive to Miami, here are some of the top-rated accommodations to choose from for your stay in Tampa Bay.

Budget: Hampton Inn Tampa International Airport/Westshore

For an affordable stay in Tampa, the Hampton Inn is conveniently next to Tampa International Airport and the Westshore shopping area. This is an easy place to grab a rental car, find nice restaurants, and relax before your Tampa to Miami drive.

Mid-Range – Aloft Tampa Downtown

Stay in the heart of Tampa at Aloft. The hotel rooms here have amazing views of the city and river, and there are great facilities like air conditioning, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool.

Luxury – The Tampa Edition

If you’re hoping for some real luxury before your Tampa to Miami drive, look no further than the Tampa EDITION. A 5-star hotel located just steps away from downtown and the riverfront, here you can enjoy gorgeous furnishings, incredible service, and elegance.

Sarasota and Siesta Key

From Tampa, head an hour south until you reach the gorgeous coastal town of Sarasota.

Renowned for its beautiful beaches, cultural amenities, and vibrant arts scene, it’s worth spending at least a few hours or even a full day here.

The city has some world-class beaches including the famous Siesta Beach. Located on the eight-mile-long barrier island of Siesta Key, it’s often ranked one of the top beaches in the United States.

Beyond its stunning shoreline, Siesta Key offers a relaxed, village-like atmosphere with a variety of charming shops, restaurants, and bars, particularly in the Siesta Key Village.

Back in the city of Sarasota, there are several worthwhile attractions and cultural institutions to check out, such as the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Events such as the Sarasota Film Festival and the annual Chalk Festival draw visitors from around the world, enhancing the city’s dynamic atmosphere.

After soaking in the beauty of Sarasota and Siesta Key, continue on your Tampa to Miami drive to Myakka River State Park!

Ringling Museum Sarasota
The stunning Ringling Museum in Sarasota is a must-see for lovers of art and architecture.

Myakka River State Park

Just 30 minutes inland from Siesta Key lies Myakka River State Park. It’s worth taking a small detour off the coastal road to this incredible Florida state park.

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, spanning over 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands.

Visitors can explore the park through various activities, such as hiking on extensive trail systems, canoeing and kayaking on the river and lakes, and wildlife viewing from the park’s famous canopy walkway or one of its many observation towers.

Myakka River State Park is home to a rich array of wildlife, including alligators, deer, birds, and wild turkeys, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

With its unique blend of ecosystems and recreational opportunities, Myakka River State Park provides an immersive experience into Florida’s wild landscapes.

Be sure to check the Florida State Park website for updated info about conditions and closures in Myakka River State Park. If you’re visiting during the rainy summer months, parts of the state park may be flooded or closed.

Read next: 30 Of The Best Things to Do in St. Petersburg, Florida

Fort Myers

After Myakka River State Park, continue south for about an hour to Fort Myers. This bustling city along the Caloosahatchee River is known for its historical significance, thriving cultural scene, and inviting natural beauty.

The city is steeped in history, most notably as the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, whose adjacent homes and gardens now serve as museums offering a glimpse into the lives and innovations of these great American inventors.

The downtown River District is a vibrant area where historic buildings house modern boutiques, restaurants, and galleries, contributing to a lively atmosphere that blends the old with the new.

With its charming streets, waterfront views, and regular events such as Art Walks and Music Walks, Fort Myers provides a dynamic cultural experience for residents and visitors alike.

Where to Stay in Fort Myers

Fort Myers is a popular holiday destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast so there are lots of accommodation options. Here are some top-rated hotels!

Budget – Suburban Studios Fort Myers Cape Coral

One of the cheapest places to stay in Fort Myers is Suburban Studios in Cape Coral. It’s not right in the city center, but it’s great if you have a car because you’re closer to attractions like Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island. It’s a simple, cozy spot perfect for those trying to save money on their Tampa to Miami road trip.

Mid-Range – The Banyan Hotel

The Banyan Hotel is part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton and showcases exquisite design. It’s also quite affordable for its location right in the heart of Fort Myers, so it’s a convenient spot for your road trip.

Luxury – Luminary Hotel & Co

Treat yourself to a bit of luxury on your Tampa to Miami road trip! The Luminary Hotel & Co in downtown is a gorgeous luxury hotel with free bike rentals, free American breakfast, a fitness centre, and beautiful amenities.

Sanibel Island and Captiva Island

It’s worth taking a 40 minute detour from Fort Myers along the Sanibel Causeway to the stunning Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.

Sanibel Island is a haven for shell collectors from around the world, thanks to its unique east-west orientation, which allows the Gulf currents to deposit an abundance of shells on its shores.

Beyond beachcombing, Sanibel Island offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including kayaking through mangrove forests, biking along scenic paths, and bird watching in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, home to a diverse array of wildlife.

A bit further north you can find Captiva Island, another gorgeous barrier island known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant sunsets. This narrow island, accessible by a small bridge from Sanibel Island, offers an intimate and relaxed environment that is perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.

The beaches on Captiva Island are renowned for their pristine sands and excellent shelling opportunities, while the surrounding waters are ideal for fishing, boating, and water sports.

Sanibel Island Florida
Sink into a state of bliss at Sanibel Island!

Lovers Key State Park

After enjoying Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, continue on your Tampa to Miami drive. It’s just under an hour to head back along the Sanibel Causeway and go south to Lovers Key State Park.

Originally accessible only by boat, this 712-acre park is now easily reachable via a causeway and is comprised of four barrier islands, with Lovers Key being the most prominent.

Lovers Key State Park is celebrated for its pristine, uncrowded beaches, where visitors can bask in the sun, swim in the warm Gulf waters, or stroll along the shore.

The park’s natural beauty is complemented by its diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, tidal lagoons, and maritime hammocks. The area provides a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife such as manatees, dolphins, and numerous bird species.

This is a great stop on your Tampa to Miami drive if you want to slow down, relax, and connect with nature in South Florida.

Explore the best things to do in Naples, Florida!


Next on your road trip is Naples, a highlight of southwest Florida.

The city’s beautiful coastline features soft, white sand beaches that stretch for miles, offering stunning sunsets and excellent opportunities for water activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.

Naples Pier is a historic landmark and popular spot for fishing, watching dolphins, or simply enjoying the panoramic views of the Gulf.

The city’s downtown area, particularly Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South, is lined with chic boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants, making it a vibrant hub of culture and commerce.

Naples is also home to several top-rated golf courses, attracting enthusiasts from around the globe.

Nature lovers can explore the nearby Everglades, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and the Naples Botanical Garden, all offering unique glimpses into Florida’s diverse ecosystems. Naples Botanical Garden in particular is a highlight for anyone who wants to observe the flora and fauna of south Florida.

Where to Stay in Naples

Here are some accommodation options in Naples so you can rest your head during your Tampa to Miami drive!

Budget – Naples Garden Inn

For a cheap and comfortable stay in the area, check out Naples Garden Inn. It’s within a 5-minute walk from nearby beaches and even has afternoon iced tea service at the outdoor pool.

Mid-Range – Naples Park Central Hotel

This top-rated hotel combines upscale amenities with fair prices, a perfect option for those on a road trip from Tampa to Miami. Naples Park Central Hotel is just a 15-minute walk from Naples Beach and has a pool, free parking, a laundrette, and a shared lounge with a cozy sun terrace.

Luxury – The Ritz Carlton Naples

Join high society with a stay at the iconic Ritz Carlton in Naples! With elaborate furnishings, amazing views, and even a spa and a sauna on-site, enjoy a bit of pampering before continuing to Miami.

Marco Island

Heading south from Naples further into Florida’s Gulf Coast, Marco Island is another must-see on any road trip from Tampa to Miami.

Marco Island, the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, is a stunning tropical paradise located in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Naples. Known for its immaculate white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters, Marco Island offers a serene retreat for visitors seeking natural beauty and relaxation.

The island’s crescent-shaped shoreline is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and shelling, with Tigertail Beach and South Marco Island Beach being popular spots on the island.

The island’s waters are also perfect for boating, fishing, and dolphin watching, providing ample opportunities for aquatic adventures. A shelling and sightseeing boat cruise is one of the best things to do on Marco Island because you’ll get to cruise around the stunning scenery and let a local guide show you around!

Marco Island also features luxurious resorts, fine dining restaurants, golf courses, and high-end shops that create an elegant and relaxing atmosphere.

From the sandy beaches like Tigertail Beach, to the fun water sports and wildlife, Marco Island is a lovely spot to visit on any Tampa to Miami road trip.

Gulf Coast Visitor Center and Everglades National Park

From Marco Island, it’s about 40 minutes down to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, located in Everglades City, Florida. The visitor center serves as a gateway to exploring the vast and unique ecosystems of Everglades National Park.

Positioned on the western edge of the Everglades National Park, this center is a crucial starting point for visitors wanting to experience the “River of Grass” up close. The visitor center provides essential information, maps, and educational exhibits about the park’s diverse flora and fauna, as well as the history and culture of the region.

From here, visitors can embark on various guided tours, rent kayaks or canoes, and gain insight into the best ways to navigate and appreciate the surrounding wilderness. It’s a main launch point for numerous outdoor adventures in Everglades National Park.

Popular activities include paddling through the intricate network of mangrove tunnels and waterways, where explorers can spot wildlife such as manatees, alligators, and a variety of bird species.

Everglades City itself is one of the best places to book boat tours into Everglades National Park. While crossing southern Florida on a road trip, you really don’t want to miss the chance to explore Everglades National Park.

You can also visit Everglades National Park on day trips from Miami, but it makes sense to book tours from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center on this road trip since you’re driving right past it.

Miami Beach

After spending some time in Everglades National Park, it’s just a 1.5-hour drive to Miami! You’ve finished your road trip and have arrived in the fabulous, sunny, vibrant city of Miami.

It’s worth spending at least 3 days in Miami to soak up all the culture, entertainment, and natural beauty here.

The city’s iconic neighborhoods, such as South Beach, with its art deco architecture and lively nightlife, and Little Havana, which celebrates Cuban heritage with its music, cuisine, and vibrant street life, showcase the multicultural fabric of Miami.

Stroll down Ocean Drive and check out the cool architecture, swim in the ocean on the Atlantic side of Florida, hit the nightclubs in South Beach, browse through a street market, relax in a beachfront park, or browse the local museums and attractions.

There is so much to do in Miami! And the Tampa to Miami drive showcases some amazing parts of Southern Florida, so hopefully you had a blast making your way to Miami.

Miami Beach Coastline
Spend a few days relaxing and exploring the iconic Miami Beach!

Where to Stay in Miami

The best place to stay in Miami is right on Miami Beach! You’ll want to be within walking distance of the stunning coast including the bustling South Beach. Here are some of the top accommodations in Miami Beach.

Budget – Collins Hotel

You can actually find decently cheap accommodation right in Miami Beach at Collins Hotel! This 3-star hotel just steps away from Miami Beach has a pool, modest rooms, and great reviews.

Mid-Range – Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach

This hotel from IHG Group puts travelers right in the heart of South Beach Miami. Complete with multiple restaurants, a fitness center, a spa, a wellness center, and a pool on-site, you have everything you need here!

Luxury – The Setai Miami Beach

The Setai Miami Beach is a 5-star hotel in South Beach that offers world-class service in an amazing location. The incredible rooms and amenities will blow you away. Miami Beach is known for its offerings of luxury, and the Setai is one of the best hotels you can choose.

Alternative Tampa to Miami Drive – East Coast Route

For a different type of scenery and a shorter road trip, here is an alternative Tampa to Miami drive. The first road trip took you south from Tampa along the Florida Gulf Coast, then turned inland at the southern part of Everglades National Park towards Miami.

Another way to complete the road trip is heading east from Tampa and then heading down the East Coast of Florida. You’ll pass through places like Alligator, Alley, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. This road trip route is around 280 miles and has fewer stops than the Gulf Coast route.

There are many ways you can drive from Tampa to Miami, but the Gulf Coast route we outlined in this article has the most stunning scenery.

But feel free to modify the Tampa to Miami drive however you want. Florida is a wonderful place that is sure to impress no matter how you get around. You can even continue your travels by heading south from Miami to Key West, or completing a more ambitious 2-week Florida road trip. The options are endless!

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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