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A Road Trip to the Panhandle - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

A Road Trip to the Panhandle

In January of 2012, we decided to take a week out from our stay in Orlando and drive to the Panhandle. We booked a small townhouse on Navarre Beach and having hired our car through uscarhire. com we got the enhanced roadside assistance which they offered and were able to set off on our trip with confidence.

This was the first time we had driven any distance although we have taken trips, in the past, driving about 150 miles at a time and staying overnight when we saw somewhere we liked. To put this in perspective I should add that we are both in our mid sixties and I do all the driving, not my husband. I felt that this was to be our first little adventure into long distance driving USA style. I could not believe how easy it was. I did not bother with Sat Nav as I don’t have one at home and I didn’t want to confuse things. The route was so easy we didn’t need one.

We had to choose a time efficient option rather than a scenic route as we had commitments to family and friends at both locations so travel time was of the essence.

We left Kissimmee on the 429, joined the turnpike then merged on to the I 75, from there onto the I 10 then exit 31 straight down to Navarre, across the bridge and there we were.

I had expected the roads to be much busier when passing Tallahassee, Gainesville and Lake City but they weren’t. I used cruise control for the first time because the route was so quiet. I never bother using it in Central Florida as it isn’t worth putting it on.

We made our first stop at the Cracker Barrel just off the I 75 at Lake City. We had left early and were ready for the eggs, toast and coffee. Along the I 10 we did choose to use the Rest Stops and found them clean, well patrolled and useful. I picked up some free maps which were very handy and although I know it is sensible to be vigilant in these places we never felt insecure and used them again on our return.
I liked the way that the gas stations etc. are posted just before the slip roads on the Interstates and was never in danger or worrying about running out of gas.

We arrived at Navarre Beach just over 8 hours after leaving Kissimmee. We still felt fresh and it did make us wonder whether to drive to New Orleans next year.

We drove back 6 days later but decided to make the whole journey through the night.

It was really easy again. The only thing was that there were so many deer at the side of the road I felt that my brief glimpses on my state park walks which I had been so pleased about were no longer so interesting.

I believe that the coastal route is very nice and friends of ours who have made the journey to the Panhandle that way, strongly recommend staying along the coast and taking a couple of days to go that way but that’s for another time.

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