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Your Guide to the Best-Ever Florida Road Trip

You could book a trip to Disney... or you could crisscross the Sunshine State for a food tour! With tips from locals about restaurants and sights, here is everything you need to see—and eat—on your Florida road trip.

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"Welcome to Florida" sign (The Sunshine State); Shutterstock ID 530998006; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHIngo70/Shutterstock

What’s the best food road trip in the USA? We’re inclined to think Florida might take the cake—er, um, Key lime pie. Whether you’re new to the Sunshine State or an annual visitor, we’ve planned the perfect trip to give you the best taste of what this state has to offer.

So grab a car (or fly into Orlando International Airport and rent one) and join us for the most delicious trip of all time. What’s the best food in Florida? Let’s find out!

Psst! These are the best recipes we’ve brought back from vacation.

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Orlando, Florida. January 11, 2019 Panoramic view of Disney Springs and water taxi on colorful sunset background at Lake Buena Vista areaVIAVAL/Shutterstock

Orlando: Disney Springs

Best tip from the locals? Skip Disney World and visit Disney Springs instead. It’s an outdoor shopping and dining complex with its own water-based rides and trains—enough to cover in one exciting afternoon. Spend the day perusing the marketplace, then stop at Homecomin’, celebrity chef Art Smith’s famous restaurant, for some thigh-high chicken biscuits. There’s no better way to kick-start your Florida experience than with a Southern classic!

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WINTER PARK - FLORIDA - USA - 13-19-2015 - WINTER PARK FARMER'S MARKET; Shutterstock ID 1306289164; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHPauloAlmeidaPhotography/Shutterstock

Winter Park: Park Avenue

Located just outside of Orlando, Winter Park is an adorable shopping district that’s sure to satisfy your souvenir needs (it’s even got a farmers market). For a midday lunch break, stop at Prato. This well-known Italian restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients and changes its menu seasonally, so you’ll have different meal options depending on when you go. Our favorites? The pasta, which is handmade in-house—or the pizza, baked before your eyes in a gorgeous pizza oven.

Drooling for Italian food just reading this? These Italian recipes will tide you over until your visit to Prato.

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Jacksonville: Black Sheep

Only a two-hour drive from Winter Park, Jacksonville is a great place to catch a concert, visit the zoo or even just walk around the beautiful downtown area. If you don’t have time for a day trip, at least pull off of I-95 for Black Sheep restaurant. It’s right off the highway and offers a creative American-style brunch, lunch and dinner menu—all on a gorgeous rooftop with a view of the city. Did we mention they even make their own pastrami?

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Cape Canaveral: Twistee Treat

Florida is known for its Twistee Treat ice cream stands—and the one in Cape Canaveral is perhaps the most iconic of all. How often in your life will you have the opportunity to order ice cream out of a giant ice cream cone?!

It makes for an absolutely adorable photo opportunity whether you’re traveling by yourself or with a family, but Twistee Treat isn’t the only place to go for a scoop. Here’s where to find the best ice cream in Florida.

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Cocoa Beach: Fat Kahuna’s

Just south of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach is known as one of the best shores in the state. If you’re interested in history, this is the place to go. It’s a gateway to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and houses its own Florida Surf Museum.

The area is also known for having a multitude of delicious seafood restaurants. Our pick? Surf n’ turf restaurant Fat Kahuna’s, with an ocean view and famous fried calamari. Be sure to book a reservation in advance, though—tables go fast.

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Tampa: La Segunda Bakery

After another two-hour drive, you’ll find yourself in Tampa. Whether it’s a dolphin cruise, an aquarium stop or a Riverwalk stroll, there are plenty of activities for anyone who loves sea creatures. And if you’re not a fan of fish, the Big Cat Rescue is a very popular attraction.

When it’s time for a quick bite, look no further than La Segunda Bakery. This place is famous for its Cuban bread, which is so good that other Florida restaurants get it shipped in. (If only we could use that for our favorite Cuban sammies.)

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Sarasota: Fresh Catch Fish Market and Grill

If you’re stopping in Sarasota, you have to check out the Fresh Catch Fish Market and Grill. Only 2.5 miles from Siesta Beach, it’s close enough to walk right from the water to the plaza. Visitors have said it’s a “hidden gem” with some of the best clam chowder they’ve ever had—though we’d argue ours is just as good.

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Fishing Peer at Dania Beach at Sun Set, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. ; Shutterstock ID 1053011189; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHJay Yuan/Shutterstock

Fort Lauderdale: Beaches and Boatyard

For a relaxing break from your travels, Fort Lauderdale offers seven miles of beaches. Getting onto the sand is free, but you can pay resort companies to borrow chairs and umbrellas. If you’re visiting during spring break, beware of crowds. And pack some of these delicious, portable beach snacks in your cooler!

Then, for some ocean-fresh seafood at a slightly more upscale place, book a table at Boatyard Restaurant. On a breezy day, the outdoor seating is the perfect place for lunch, dinner or drinks.

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LAUDERHILL - OCTOBER 8: Publix is a supermarket founded in 1930 in Lakeland FL by George Jenkins October 8, 2016 in Lauderhill FL, USA; Shutterstock ID 495565213; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHFelix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

On the Road: Pub Subs!

Weirdly enough, this grocery store is known for its subs. The locals suggest stopping at Publix on your way to the beach—any beach works, since Publix stores are all over the state—to grab a “pub sub,” chips and a cookie. That way, you avoid buying an overpriced shoreside sandwich… and get the true Florida experience!

Never heard of Publix? Here are some reasons we love this Southern grocery store.

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Homestead, USA - May 2, 2018: Robert is Here fruit stand or store shop selling rare exotic and local tropical fruit and vegetables by roadKristi Blokhin/Shutterstock

Homestead: Robert is Here

Only a half-hour from Fort Lauderdale, Homestead offers a unique Florida road trip must-stop. It’s called Robert is Here, a roadside fruit stand with all kinds of local fare from boiled peanuts to jackfruit to gator jerky. If you’re looking to pick up some Sunshine State snacks, be sure to bookmark this place.

Looking for more famous Florida foods? Here are our favorite recipes of all.

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Miami,USA-march 15,2018:Key Biscayne lighthouse and old house museum on south of Miami during a sunny day.; Shutterstock ID 1065189953; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHstarmaro/Shutterstock

Miami: Key Biscayne Lighthouse & Wynwood Walls

After making your way to the south of Florida, Miami has so many attractions that it’s hard to do in one day. We recommend stopping at the Bill Baggs Key Biscayne Lighthouse, a gorgeous state park with a picture-perfect beach. Then visit the colorful, never-ending graffiti at Wynwood Walls for more Instagram-worthy shots. It even has its own kitchen and bar for a quick bite afterward.

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Miami, Florida USA - June 26, 2018: Colorful artwork on display along the popular Calle Ocho in historic Little Havana.; Shutterstock ID 1121331431; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHFotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

Miami: Little Havana

It wouldn’t be a food road trip without some authentic Cuban cuisine. For the best the state has to offer, be sure to visit Little Havana. Our favorite restaurant, La Carreta, has delicious shredded beef, Cuban sandwiches and Cuban beer—all for very affordable prices.

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Key West, USA - May 15th 2014 - The Kermit's shopping in Key West, considered one of the best lime pie in city, USA.; Shutterstock ID 422198938; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHLMspencer/Shutterstock

Key West: Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe

The last stop on this Florida road trip leaves us in Key West. Known for its gorgeous shores, it’s a great resting stop if the rest of this jam-packed vacation leaves you in need of a calm beach day. Be sure to end your day at Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe. Their chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick is to die for… but we’ll let you find out for yourself.

(Love key lime? Check out our favorite key lime recipes.)

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Emma B. Kumer
Emma Kumer is a marathon-runner, magazine-writer, and graphic design addict. She was a digital editorial intern for Taste of Home Magazine for Summer 2017. She is also a junior in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.