Tampa is a big city that offers loads of things to do, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Big Cat Rescue. Getting out of town doesn't have to take a long time because Fort Lauderdale is less than four hours away. Skip the resorts and rent an RV to stay close to Ybor City Museum State Park and Dinosaur World. When you use an RV rather than a train or a flight, you can take a more leisurely Tampa to Fort Lauderdale RV road trip.
Start your Tampa to Fort Lauderdale trip off in style with a stop at one of several national parks. Many of the parks in Florida offer on-site camping as well as fun activities such as bird-watching and hiking.
Everglades National Park
Heading south through Florida lets you stop by Everglades National Park on your road trip. This is the biggest subtropical wilderness area in the nation. Designated a World Heritage Site, the park has a biosphere reserve and protected areas. You can sign up for a guided tour to explore the park with a ranger or enjoy bird-watching and other activities on your own. If you have Wi-Fi on the road, the Royal Palm Anhinga Trail Webcam lets you check in and see some of the animals you might see in the park.
Dry Tortugas National Park
The fort located in Dry Tortugas National Park dates back to the 19th century and is open for the general public to explore. You'll find 100 square miles of space as well as seven islands in the national park. Taking a dip in the blue water brings you close to the coral reef and hundreds of fish. The park allows you to bring a boat to take onto the water and has opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling. A ferry boat picks visitors up from nearby Homestead and takes them to the park, which is on an island a short ride away.
Biscayne National Park
For snorkeling and scuba diving, one of the best national parks to hit in Florida is Biscayne National Park. This is also one of the few locations in the state where you can get a permit to fish for lobster. Divers will find many shipwrecks hidden deep beneath the water's surface and hundreds of fish and other marine animals. Canoeing and kayaking are other popular activities for those who don't like fishing or swimming. You can bring a boat or rent one from the park near the front entrance.
In addition to national parks, Florida has some nice state parks, too. While you won't find many directly between Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, some are just a few hours off the highway.
Ybor City Museum State Park
Close to Tampa, the Ybor City Museum State Park is in Ybor, a small town known as the Cigar Capital of the World. It's just a short detour off the highway as you head to Fort Lauderdale. You can tour some of the small homes where cigar workers lived as they worked in the nearby factory. The park is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and has guided tours available on Wednesdays through Sundays. Some of the former homes are open to public tours. You can visit the ornamental gardens and take self-guided tours before touring other state parks.
Hillsboro River State Park
Those who love whitewater rafting will find Class II rapids in the heart of this state park, which is only a short drive from Tampa. Hillsboro River State Park rapids offer a thrilling experience for those who hit the water. You can tour the on-site fort and get there via the stationary bridge that offers amazing views of the water below. This bridge is open every day of the week. The park has both an ADA-accessible swimming pool and 7 miles of hiking trails, too.
Caladesi Island State Park
You don't need to travel outside to find an island that time forgot because Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin does not have modern amenities. Visitors can only reach the state park via boat tours from the shore. The Scharrer Homestead shows you how the first settlers lived and the buildings that they left behind. You'll also find large oak trees that offer plenty of shade and tons of wild animals. Stop by one of the restaurants or grocery stores before hopping on a boat to have a picnic on the beach.
Fort Foster State Park Historic Site
Built in 1836, the original Fort Foster was destroyed years ago, but the Fort Foster State Park Historic Site in Thonotosassa offers a re-creation of that site. You'll find several reenactment events taking place each year and things that you can do any day of the week. It's worth adding this park your Tampa to Fort Lauderdale road trip itinerary for the living history experiences and interpretive center that displays artifacts from the old fort. The interpretive center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day.
Honeymoon Island State Park
Enjoy a romantic getaway at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, which allows you to enter by car, bike or foot. The Rotary Centennial Nature Center includes displays and information on nature in the park and helps you understand why it got its name. You can hop on the ferry to get between the park and Caladesi Island or stay close and have fun with outdoor activities such as hiking and swimming. A cash box at the front gate lets you pay for a one-day admission pass, but you can also buy passes for your whole family online before your trip.
A road trip itinerary from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale should include Dinosaur World in Plant City, which features life-size re-creations of dinosaurs. More than 200 of those dinosaurs are in different areas of the park, which is mainly outdoors. You'll also find the Florida Fossil Museum and a trivia contest that tests your knowledge of dinosaurs.
While the on-site resort lets you take a break from RV living, LEGOLAND in Winter Park also has a theme park suitable for anyone who likes these building-block toys. You can hop on one of the roller coasters to feel the wind in your hair or take in one of the live shows. LEGOLAND offers many attractions that are suitable for kids 2 to 12.
Coral Castle Museum
One of the most beautiful buildings in Homestead, Florida, is the Coral Castle Museum. Made from thousands of carved bricks, the park was the brainchild of Edward Leedskalnin, who offered private tours until he passed away. You can now explore both the museum and the surrounding park that features hundreds of stone sculptures.
Head over to Naples if your Tampa to Fort Lauderdale road trip takes you south. This city has an upscale vibe that lets you get out of the RV and enjoy the beach. It's also close to campgrounds, dump stations and Marco Island, which is a honeymoon hot spot filled with dozens of shops and restaurants.
Some of the best beaches and campgrounds in Florida are in and around Clearwater. While you can try scuba diving and snorkeling, you may want to lounge on the beach for a few hours before taking a glass-bottom boat ride. The Dali Museum is also in Clearwater and home to the largest collection of work created by the artist outside of Spain.
If you head over to Dinosaur World, you can explore some of the other attractions in Plant City. The Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum is home to one of the largest collections of trains and railroad memorabilia in the state. You may want to check out the Bing Rooming House Museum and nearby campgrounds and dump stations also.
Due east of Tampa is Lakeland, which is home to the Polk Museum of Art and its collection of artwork from around the world as well as some convenient dump stations. Explorations V Children's Museum is popular with kids of all ages due to the hands-on exhibits. The Circle B Bar Reserve recreation park is also worth a visit and close to some hot campgrounds.
Planning a road trip from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale is easy, especially if you rent an RV for the adventure ahead. You can easily find a Tampa RV rental that you can pick up at the start of your trip or a Fort Lauderdale rental that is available when you reach the city. RVshare makes it easy for travelers to find RV rentals for Tampa to Fort Lauderdale trips.