When you're looking to explore two lively and bustling Southern cities, you can't beat Atlanta and Miami. As the capital and most populated city in Georgia, Atlanta offers an excellent variety of things to see and do, paired with that classic Southern charm. On the flip side, Miami is known for its stunning beaches and unique attractions with a conglomeration of Caribbean cultures that influence everyday life. When you're ready to embark on this beautiful road trip, pack up your rental car and visit the stops we’ve listed on this itinerary. Be prepared for the open road by visiting our checklist of road trip essentials.
Drive Time from Atlanta to Miami: approximately 9 hours and 30 minutes
Distance from Atlanta to Miami: approximately 662 miles
Best car for this road trip: Full-size sedan
Before you begin the drive south, you'll want to explore some of Atlanta's highlights. One destination you shouldn't leave the city without seeing is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Located just outside the downtown core, this park consists of several buildings that have significance in King's life, including his boyhood home and church where he was a pastor. You'll learn about King's early life and his work with the civil rights movement.
Another great place to visit in the heart of Atlanta is Centennial Olympic Park. Originally built as part of the 1996 Summer Olympics, this 21-acre park is a top spot for enjoying the outdoors. While you're visiting, be sure to check out the Fountain of Rings, which is a unique interactive fountain incorporating the Olympic Rings. You can also use your phone to take the audio walking tour and learn more fun facts and history about the park.
For a great kid-friendly activity be sure to visit the Georgia Aquarium, where you can take a 45-minute ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour, see whale sharks and catch a sea lion show. Visitor tip: purchase your tickets online at a discounted rate.
Once you're done in Atlanta, you'll want to begin your journey by heading south on Interstate 75. As you leave the hustle of Atlanta behind, you'll travel about an hour and 15 minutes and 83 miles to find the charming, small city of Macon. If you enjoy history, you'll find several spots around Macon worth exploring. The Ocmulgee National Monument preserves a prehistoric Native American site. Significant earthworks at the site include defensive trenches, the Great Temple, ceremonial mounds, and a burial mound.
Another interesting and historic spot worth a visit in Macon is the Cannonball House. This 1853 house got its name because of damage it received from a cannonball during the Civil War. During the Battle of Dunlap Hill, a cannonball fired from across the Ocmulgee River crashed through one of the columns before going into the house itself. You can still see some of this damage in the repaired column and a dent in the hallway floor. When you take a tour of the house, you'll view period antiques and furnishings and learn more about the history of the house.
While in Macon, grab a country lunch at The Bear’s Den. This establishment has been slinging delectable, country-style home cooking for decades. Fried chicken is the way to go, but depending on the day, you’ll also find hearty options like smothered pork chops, chicken and dumplings, and country fried steak.
Continue heading south on Interstate 75 for just under four hours and 255 miles to reach Gainesville, Florida. Gainesville offers plenty of scenic outdoor attractions worth viewing. One of the most interesting is the Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park. While the name sounds eerie, the park is home to a large sinkhole that houses three distinct ecological environments. Steps, boardwalks, and observation decks make it easy to explore the beauty of the area.
If you're searching for a beautiful place to cool off, you can head to Ichetucknee Springs State Park. The park centers on the 6-mile Ichetucknee River. Like most rivers in this part of the state, it's fed by natural springs, giving the river a year-round temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit and provides remarkably clear water. Tubing, snorkeling, and kayaking are all popular activities at the park.
A full day of driving and exploring will work up quite the appetite. Before turning in for the night, any trip to Gainesville requires a stop at the popular Satchel’s Pizza. This eclectic, college-town joint serves delicious pizza with unique a unique atmosphere; try dining in a van, under a plane or even in a greenhouse surrounded by local art.
When you're ready to continue your journey toward Miami, take Interstate 75 and Florida's Turnpike for an hour and 47 minutes and 113 miles to Orlando. Even though Orlando is known as "The Theme Park Capital of the World," it offers other unique attractions you can enjoy during your visit. When you're looking for a place to stretch your legs, go to Harry P. Leu Gardens. This stunning botanical garden includes 50 acres of tropical and semi-tropical plants and trees. Here you'll find meandering paths that will take you by 200-year-old oak trees, lakes, palm trees, and fields of flowers.
Enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up with a caffeinated beverage from Lineage Coffee Roasting. It's all about the bean here as baristas roast, grind and brew all the coffee in-house to create a perfectly crafted cup of coffee.
If you want to experience some of the excitement of the famous theme parks without actually paying to enter them, Disney Springs is the perfect destination for you. Located near the Walt Disney World Resort, this outdoor dining, shopping, and entertainment complex offers something for everyone to enjoy. You can have a bite to eat at the one-of-a-kind restaurants, get a fantastic view by taking a ride on world's largest tethered helium balloon or check out the unique boutiques for some great shopping.
Before you leave Orlando, swing by Le Gourmet Break for a quick breakfast. Enjoy the French Breakfast, a plate of French butter and jam tartine on a baguette with a croissant and coffee, or peruse the pastry case to find something that perfect morning treat.
To finish your road trip to Miami, continue south on Florida's Turnpike for three hours and 45 minutes and 236 miles. When you arrive in the city, you don't want to miss the opportunity to enjoy some of the beaches in the area. One of the most popular beaches to visit is the iconic South Beach. Located on Miami Beach, this famous stretch of sand is known for its nightlife, restaurants, shopping, and well-preserved art deco buildings. You can find your spot on the fine white sand to catch some sun or stroll down Ocean Drive to look for celebrities and do some window shopping.
Visitor tip: For a quieter and more low-key day at the beach, check out North Beach located 20-25 minutes up the road.
To discover more about the fascinating history of the city, plan a visit to HistoryMiami. The museum explores everything from Native American settlements in the area to current community life. You can also take part in one of the walking, biking, or boat tours of the city hosted by the museum.
Make sure you enjoy the unique cultures throughout the city – the best way to do so is through their food. Swing by Calle Ocho for some incredible Cuban food, or search for some off-the-beaten-path restaurants that feature Haitian, Bahamian, Jamaican and Puerto Rican food.
When you're ready to see all the beauty of Atlanta, Miami, and the cities in between, hop in your rental car and head out on this memorable road trip.