Getting to Miami from Atlanta by car is no joke—the drive is close to 11 hours long! That being said, you’ll find yourself with plenty of detours to choose from as you head south through Georgia and into Florida. For this reason, driving from Atlanta to Miami is the perfect opportunity to take an action-packed road trip that includes destinations like Macon, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, and more… Keep reading to find out some of our favorite stops on the way from Georgia to South Florida!
Nicknamed “The Heart of Georgia,” Macon is around an hour-and-a-half southeast of Atlanta, and it’s an ideal first stop on the drive to Miami. A few of Macon’s most-talked-about attractions include Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, the Allman Brothers Band Museum, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the Hay House. Another place that you’ll want to see while in Macon is the Tubman Museum, a multifaceted educational institution that’s dedicated to the study, celebration, and preservation of African American art, history, and culture.
With nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibits, galleries, and displays, the Tubman Museum is the biggest museum of its kind in the United States. In the museum’s permanent collection, you’ll find a 55-foot-long mural depicting Black history in America, a gallery outlining unrecognized inventions by Black innovators, local artifacts from Macon and its surrounding area, and artwork from Black artists, particularly those who come from Georgia. (The museum also hosts temporary exhibits and special events, a schedule for which can be found on its website.) And, don’t forget to check out the museum store, where you’ll find Tubman-themed souvenirs, as well as handmade goods from local artists! (The Tubman Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, students, teachers, and military personnel; and $6 for children ages 3 17.)
Just under two hours southwest of Atlanta, Columbus is a lively city that’s bursting with Southern charm. Among its top attractions are the Columbus Museum, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, the National Civil War Naval Museum, and the Chattahoochee RiverWalk. One more place in Columbus that’s worth mentioning is the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center, a multiple-time nominee for USA Today’s “10 Best Free Museums.”
In addition to achieving national acclaim, the National Infantry Museum also is a world leader in terms of military history and education. The collections at the museum hold thousands of artifacts, monuments, and documents, and the exhibits range from multimedia displays and galleries to outdoor memorials and commemorative statues. When you visit the National Infantry Museum, not only will you journey through the American military’s last 240 years of service, but you can also partake in immersive experiences, like the museum’s virtual reality combat simulator. (While general admission is free, a donation of at least $5 is encouraged in order to support the museum and keep it in operation. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.)
Albany is about three hours south of Atlanta, and it’s a blossoming riverside city that offers visitors a delightful mix of cultural enrichment and outdoor activity. Some of Albany’s best-known attractions include the Thronateeska Heritage Center, Chehaw Park & Zoo, the Albany Civil Rights Institute, and Ray Charles Plaza. But, if you’re an animal lover, then you don’t want to leave Albany without making a stop at the Flint RiverQuarium, a hands-on learning center that focuses on the ecosystems found in the nearby Flint River.
The Blue Hole Spring aquarium at the Flint RiverQuarium is 22 feet deep, holds 175,000 gallons of water, and is home to over 120 kinds of animals, including dozens of species of fish and several types of turtles. At the RiverQuarium’s hatchery, you can see the fish and turtles that the center raises from eggs until they’re big enough to be transferred into the main exhibits. Behind the indoor facility, the RiverQuarium has an aviary, which provides a habitat to birds native to the Flint River Basin, including egrets, herons, cormorants, and ducks. But, perhaps the king of all of the animals that you’ll find at the RiverQuarium is the American alligator, an apex predator that’s native to the southeastern United States. (The RiverQuarium is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6.50 for children ages 4 to 12, and $5.50 for college students.)
Around five hours southeast of Atlanta, Jacksonville is a can’t-miss destination on your way to Miami. A couple of the most popular places to go when visiting Jacksonville are the Museum of Science and History, the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, the Kingsley Plantation, and the Riverside Arts Market. But, if you’re in the mood to flavor your road trip with a hearty dose of culture, then be sure to check out the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, a prestigious art history institution that also features 2.5 acres of gardens.
The permanent collection at the Cummer Museum is comprised of a variety of mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and pottery. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also has temporary exhibitions that are equally diverse in style, form, and origin. Outside of the museum, you’ll find a striking landscape that’s further enhanced by several display gardens. But, the significance of this portion of the museum is more than meets the eye: The gardens were originally planted by Ninah and Clara Cummer, members of the wealthy family that owned the property in the early 1900s. As such, the gardens are a cherished symbol of the museum’s history, and they’re listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Close to three-and-a-half hours north of Miami, Melbourne is a versatile coastal city where you can enjoy a number of outdoor activities, from surfing and fishing to golfing and window-shopping. Melbourne’s leading attractions include the Foosaner Art Museum, Melbourne Beach Pier, the Florida Tech Botanical Gardens, and Sebastian Inlet State Park. Another Melbourne hotspot that you should have on your itinerary is the Brevard Zoo, a beloved local zoo that’s known for its interactive activities.
Zebras, monkeys, meerkats, otters, camels, bobcats, alligators, rhinos, giraffes, and cheetahs are just some of the animals that you’ll find at the Brevard Zoo. The zoo offers regularly-scheduled “Keeper Chats” so that visitors can learn more about the animals, as well as animal feedings, kayaking tours, and a miniature train ride. Open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm, the zoo recommends spending around three hours touring the facility, and if you’re going to be visiting in the summer, it’s advised that you go early, as it can get pretty hot in the afternoon (it is Florida, after all!).
Vero Beach is about three hours north of Miami, and it’s another city along Florida’s Atlantic Coast that warrants a stop on the way to the Magic City. Some of Vero Beach’s most popular attractions include the Vero Beach Museum of Art, South Beach, Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary, and the McLarty Treasure Museum. But, whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just someone who appreciates a pop of color, the McKee Botanical Gardens is a Vero Beach favorite that you don’t want to skip.
With a history that dates back to 1932, the McKee Botanical Gardens has been a part of the Vero Beach community for several generations, evolving into a widely-acclaimed destination that’s thought to be one of Florida’s first natural attractions. Both native and exotic plants can be found at the gardens, which also frequently has art exhibitions and special events going on. (McKee Botanical Gardens is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, as well as on Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $10 for children ages 2 to 12.)
Around an hour north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale makes for a perfect last stop on your road trip. Nicknamed “the Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale is known for its gorgeous beaches, high-end shopping, and complex network of canals and waterways. Some of Fort Lauderdale’s biggest attractions include the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Las Olas Boulevard, the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum, and, of course, the Fort Lauderdale Beach! Looking for a chance to reconnect with Florida’s natural side before heading into the big city? We’ve got just the place: Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, sometimes called Fort Lauderdale’s Central Park.
Biking, camping, fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking, and swimming are a couple of the activities that can be enjoyed at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which has trails, picnic areas, beach access, and coastal dune lakes. Wildlife viewing, particularly birding, is another prevalent park activity, as the park is inhabited by gopher tortoises, raccoons, turtles, and more than 250 species of birds—which is why it’s included on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail! (You can visit the park any day of the year between 8 am and sundown, and admission is $4–$6 per vehicle and $2 per pedestrian or bicyclist.)
One of Florida’s most iconic cities, Miami is a world-famous travel destination that offers visitors a long list of exciting attractions and eclectic points of interest. A few of the top places to go when visiting Miami include Zoo Miami, Bayside Marketplace, the Wynwood Walls, Little Havana, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, and Pérez Art Museum Miami. With such enchantingly vibrant city streets, magnetically beautiful beaches, and enthrallingly rich heritage, it won’t take you long to understand why Miami is called “The Magic City.” (Okay, the nickname actually comes from the city’s seemingly overnight population boom in the mid-20th century, but it’s still a pretty magical place!)