Florida Guide > Travelling
We frequently fly into Miami, on our way to our villa, or when we pick up a cruise, either from there, or Fort Lauderdale, and we always use the Florida Turnpike. There are often bargain flights to be had if you take the Miami option, and if you don’t mind the drive, you can save yourself quite a lot on airfares. American Airlines, for example, do a direct flight from Heathrow, and we have saved £150 or more on each fare by not flying with companies such as Virgin direct to Orlando. Of course it is individual choice, but if you are not short of time, then it can be an interesting experience to see a little of Miami itself. It is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, and along the coast there are numerous beaches which are quite beautiful.
If you decide to fly into Miami on the way to Orlando, you may wonder which route to take. There are several options which include Highway 27 and Interstate 95. Our preferred route, and one which has now become fairly routine for us, is the Florida Turnpike. It is far less busy than the I95, which, at times is murderously busy, and has accidents on a daily basis which cause huge traffic jams around the Miami area. It is also a better road than Highway 27.
Many people ask ‘How long will it take to get to Orlando from Miami?’ Well, you will get a number of different answers, ranging from 3 hours with a stop (this must be in a jet propelled car!) to 4-5 hours. There will always be someone who likes to think they can do it in the shortest possible time, but, if you join the Turnpike at Milepost 26A (from the Dolphin Expressway at Miami Airport), it is a 223 mile journey. The area around Miami is very busy, and traffic does not really ease until north of Fort Lauderdale, at Boca Raton, near the Glades Rd exit at Milepost 75. This is 40 miles north of Miami. At peak times you will be lucky to average 30mph on this stretch of road.
Realistically, taking the speed limit into account, plus the heavy traffic at the beginning of your journey, you would have to break the law to do it in 3 hours – especially if you had a stop! It is a long drive and we would not advise anyone to do it without a break somewhere. To allow at least 4-41/2 hours, more if you hit the peak time traffic in Miami, seems to us to be much more achievable. They do take speed limits seriously in Florida, so why risk getting pulled over on your way to your hotel or villa? It would not be a good way to start your much awaited holiday. There are no prizes for being the fastest, except perhaps to be the first one in the graveyard. Drivers around Miami are fast and unpredictable – if you are driving for the first time you will need to keep your wits about you.
It is well worth paying the Florida Turnpike tolls – $13.70 at the present time – in order to drive on a less busy road, which has plenty of service areas where you can take a break, buy a meal or snack, or simply stretch your legs.
Having joined the Florida Turnpike, either west of Miami, or a few miles north, you will pass Pompano Beach, and just before you get to Lake Worth/West Palm Beach Service Station you will reach a toll booth at Exit 88, Lantana Toll Booth. This is where you enter the section of the Turnpike covered by the Ticket System, and you will be given a ticket which will log your tolls throughout your journey, so that you only pay at the end, when you exit the Ticket System Area, at Three Lakes Toll Plaza (Milepost 236). Within this 148 mile area, you will not have to stop for tolls.
The Turnpike itself is numbered in miles, from its beginning, south of Miami, and we normally exit it at Milepost 249, where we join the Osceola Parkway on our way to our villa on Highway 27, close to the junction with the 192. The Osceola Parkway is not as busy as the 192, and will take you to the Interstate 4, avoiding much of the traffic on the way. This is a very central point at which to exit the Turnpike, as it avoids the very busy eastern end of the 192, around Mediaeval Times. You can also join the 192 at Milepost 242. It may look nearer to leave the Turnpike at the first 192 exit, but you may well get stuck in heavy traffic. However, it all depends which part of the area you are staying in.
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Page added on: 14 June 2005
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