With miles of warm beaches and all the amusement parks anyone could want, Florida is a must-go trip on anyone's travel bucket list. This 10-Day Florida Itinerary covers 400+ miles of the Sunshine State's best theme parks, attractions, and sun-kissed beaches.
The best 10-Day Florida Itinerary combines manatees, beach days, Harry Potter, spaceships, Disney, and the life-giving warmth of a Florida vacation.
You may begin this circle tour at any spot, but we'll begin on the Gulfside with snorkeling with the manatees and finish up with an Orlando park.
The Best 10-Day Florida Itinerary:
- Day 1 - Manatees in Crystal River
- Day 2 - Siesta Key
- Day 3 - Alligator Country
- Day 4 - Kennedy Space Center
- Day 5 - Cocoa Beach
- Day 6 - Universal Studios or Sea World in Orlando
- Day 7 - Disney Parks
- Day 8 - Waterpark Day
- Day 9 - Disney Parks
- Day 10 - Travel Day
You can do the Best 10-day Florida Itinerary in a rental car or drive yourself down into the Sunshine State. This itinerary will bring you to the theme parks and the Kennedy Space Center and have days to relax on beautiful beaches.
Should We Drive or Fly to Florida?
Your decision to drive or fly may be based on distance and the number of people coming. Fly to Florida if you are more than a day's drive. Drive if you are close to Florida or the cost is too high to fly.
If you are driving to Florida, bring your biggest car or consider renting a minivan, so the drive portions don't feel too cramped.
Flying to Florida
For this 10-day tour of Florida, you should fly into Tampa and out of Orlando. Some airlines and car rental agencies allow you to do this on one set of tickets with no price penalty. You can usually get a discount on your car rental when you book it with your airline tickets.
How to Spend 2 Weeks in Florida
If you can expand your Florida trip to 2 weeks, add three days between Day 2 - Siesta Key and Day 4 - Kennedy Space Center.
Use one day to explore Everglades National Park from Everglades City. Then spend two days in Miami, enjoying the beautiful beach and the spectacular food in Little Havana and South Beach.
With the last bonus day, you could add another day to Orlando for one of the parks. Or you might want to add a day shopping and relaxing at John's Pass Village & Boardwalk in Madeira Beach before continuing to Siesta Key.
Day 1 - Manatees in Crystal River
For the Best 10-Day Florida Itinerary, you will begin in Crystal River, Florida, north of Tampa. A manatee snorkel tour will bring you to a spot where you can float near the manatee [no touching - it is against the law].
Also, take a snorkel tour of one of the many spring-fed rivers where you can feel the warm water flowing up, and you may see North America's only freshwater stingray swimming by.
Where to Stay in the Crystal River Area
Everywhere you go in Florida, you will have a great choice of chain hotels at every price point. For something different, stay at the riverfront Chassahowitzka Hotel or in the luxurious Plantation on Crystal River with its Aveda spa and golf course.
Day 2 - Siesta Key
In the morning, drive the 145 miles [2.5 hours] from Crystal River to Siesta Key on the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Ian [Sept. 2022] left this beach paradise mostly unharmed. Choose a beach and spend the day relaxing, swimming, or enjoying sand volleyball.
Take a Cruise on the Ocean
Consider getting out on the water for a sunset cruise or ocean fishing. Siesta Key Fishing Charters can take you out on the water for everything from fishing to dolphin tours to drinks on the water.
Sanibel and Captive Islands
A must-stop in Florida has been Sanibel and Captiva islands, with their beautiful beaches where millions of sea shells come in with the tides.
Hurricane Ian has damaged the islands, so many resorts and restaurants are closed for renovation. When these islands reopen for travelers, you should add them to your Florida tour.
You can drive to the islands on causeways which are under repair.
Day 3 - Alligator Country
You can see alligators throughout Florida, but no trip would be complete without a visit to alligator country.
Hurricane Ian has made visiting Everglades National Park difficult. Instead, travel just 16 miles from Siesta Key to Myakka River State Park.
In the state park, begin your day by 8 a.m. by snagging a permit to hike the 2-mile prairie grass trail to a sinkhole called Deep Hole, where lots of alligators gather.
Don't miss Myakka River State Park's spectacular Canopy Walkway through the trees.
See these binoculars at Amazon.com.
See Rural Florida
After exploring the park, drive east on State Route 70 for 94 miles to Okeechobee Lake for an airboat ride with Eaglebay Adventures or one of the other tour companies. Complete your day with the 107-mile drive up the Atlantic side to Cocoa Beach.
Day 4 - Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center sits 30 minutes north of Cocoa Beach on Merritt Island. Plan to spend most of the day exploring all the exhibits as you learn about the history of space exploration.
In the Rocket Garden, you can see rockets used for the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury projects. Each day you will have the chance to hear from a real astronaut in the Universe Theater.
Day 5 - Cocoa Beach
Today is a beach day! Cocoa Beach is great for sitting on a beach chair with your toes in the water. Go to the giant Ron Jon Surf Shop to schedule a surfing lesson.
End your day with dinner at Nosh or at the local favorite, The Tiny Turtle. Round out your day with drinks or ice cream on the Cocoa Beach Pier.
Day 6 - Universal Studios or Sea World in Orlando
Day 6 begins early with the 65-mile drive to Orlando for a day at either Universal Studios or Sea World Orlando. Choose Universal Studios if you want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Head to Sea World Orlando to see and learn about fantastic undersea animals. Both Universal and Sea World offers roller coasters and other amusement rides.
Why Choose Universal Studios?
Universal Studios offers three parks that can be overwhelming [and expensive] to do in one day.
Choose between Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure, saving their new waterpark Volcano Bay for your waterpark Day 4.
Both the Studio and Islands of Adventure have Harry Potter attractions, rides, and shows.
Why Choose SeaWorld Orlando?
Come to SeaWorld Orlando for educational, marvelous sea creature encounters. SeaWorld offers engaging, interactive presentations at Dolphin Adventures, Orca [whales] Encounter, and the Sea Lion and Otter Spotlight.
The park is filled with all kinds of aquatic preserves with sharks, manta rays, penguins, and so much more. Five roller coasters plus two water rides will get your heart pumping.
Where to Stay in Orlando
Orlando has every lodging option, from camping and hostels to high-end luxury resorts.
To save some money, stay at a mid-price hotel for Day 6 before moving into a Disney lodging property for Day 7-10 nights.
Staying in one of Disney's 25 resorts inside Disney World grants early access and the ease of moving throughout the parks without using your car.
Day 7 - Disney Parks
No Florida itinerary would be complete without visiting Walt Disney World Resort. Disney World includes four theme parks and 3 "Destinations." For your Day 3, choose one park to enjoy. The four theme parks are:
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
- Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Disney's EPCOT
- Disney's Magic Kingdom Park
What Else is there to Do at Disney Besides the Parks?
In addition to the four theme parks, Disney offers three Destinations. These Destinations provide places to shop and dine, as well as live music and sporting events. The three Walt Disney World Destinations are:
- Disney Springs - 50+ shops and restaurants
- Disney Boardwalk - Shops, arcade games, bike rentals, and restaurants
- ESPN Wide World of Sports - See live baseball/softball games, cheer competitions & more
Day 8 - Waterpark Day
Get your swimsuits on for a day of waterpark fun. You can stay at Disney for Blizzard Beach or return to Universal Studios' Volcano Bay. Another excellent waterpark option is Orlando's Aquatica which USA Today chose as the Best Water Park in the Country in 2021.
Day 9 - Disney Parks
Choose another Disney park to visit for your last full day on this 10-Day Florida Itinerary. In the Animal Kingdom Theme Park, you can see live elephants, lions, and giraffes, fly on the indoor Avatar Flight of Passage, or splash down Kali's River Rapids.
Star Wars Galaxy Edge
You could use your day to visit Disney World's Hollywood Studio for "Star Wars Galaxy Edge" [make reservation months out].
Bring your Star Wars dreams to life on the "Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run" or the "Star Wars Rise of the Resistance" rides.
With reservations, you can even sleep in a hotel in the immersive "Star Wars: Galatic Starcruiser Adventure" [Days 8-9].
Day 10 - Travel Day
It's time to head home. Plan on a half-hour drive [21 miles] from Walt Disney World Resort to the Orlando International Airport. Rental car drop-off is easy.
Drive Home from Florida
If you are driving home, here are the mileages out of the state from Orlando:
- I-75 Georgia Border - 209 miles
- I-95N Georgia Border - 189 miles
- Atlanta, Georgia - 443 miles
- Charlotte, North Carolina - 539 miles
Time to Plan Your Florida Vacation
Anyone who has been to Florida will have their own input into this Best 10-Day Florida Itinerary. South Beach Miami, Sanibel Island [after hurricane recovery], Busch Gardens, and Daytona Beach offer great vacation options.
What is the #1 Vacation Spot in Florida?
The answer to this depends on you. Do you want theme parks or beaches? The Orlando area gets the most visitors. But if you counted all the people at all the beaches, the Florida Beaches are the clear #1 vacation spot.
How many days in Florida is enough?
More! Florida has so much to see and do. This Best 10-Day Florida Itinerary will give you a great mix of places to explore and relax. In 1-2 weeks, you can get a complete sense of the wonder of Florida.
Explore More with These Florida Ideas:
Cocoa Beach vs. Daytona Beach: Which to Visit