Florida with a car or Florida without a car?
Most people who vacation in Florida either drive to Florida or rent a car when they get there but it is possible to get around in Florida without a car.
The public transport infrastructure in Florida is not brilliant compared to some parts of the world but it depends on where you are staying and what you intend to do when you are there.
Having a car gives you the ultimate freedom but it is possible to vacation in Florida without a car. It just may restrict where you can go, when you can go and what you can do when you get there
For example, if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and plan to spend most of your vacation in ‘The World’ then you can make use of the comprehensive FREE Disney Transportation system to get you to and from the Disney parks and even from the airport using their new Magical Express service. On January 1, 2022 Magical Express will be replaced by Mears Connect.
If you are planning a beach holiday or going on a Spring Break, then you may only need to get the occasional taxi to take you to a local restaurant or take a motor coach on an organised tour.
The disadvantage of not having your own transport, is you have to rely on public transportation and you may find yourself waiting a long time for a ride or having to travel at a time which is less convenient.
Even if you do not want to or cannot rent a car, there are a number of alternatives for you to consider when travelling around Florida, be it in the Orlando area, Miami, the Keys or across the whole state:
- car - You can either bring your car with you or rent a car when you arrive. You will find all the major national car rental companies like Alamo, National, Budget, Dollar and Hertz at the airports or near to your hotel
- aircraft - Florida has a number of regional airports and it is possible to fly from major city to major city, much like you would catch a train or a bus
- train - Amtrak offer a few services across the state but the number of destinations is limited. There is a commuter Tri-Rail service in Miami and there were plans for a high speed service between Tampa and Orlando which was due to open in 2014 but it never came to fruition. SunRail does offer commuter services in Central Florida but it does not yet go to the theme parks or Orlando International Airport. Brightline will connect Miami with Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World in 2023
- bus - Greyhound buses operate throughout Florida and serve around 54 destinations. In the major cities, there are local bus and trolley operators; for example in Orlando there is the Lynx services throughout the city and the I-Trolley that operates as a tourist bus along the length of International Drive
- tour coach - Many travel companies offer tour coaches; for example from Orlando you can get coach trips to Busch Gardens, the Kennedy Space Center and even Miami and the Everglades
- taxi and limousine - if you are only planning on a short journey then taxis can be practical but they can be expensive. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are becoming more popular and are generally cheaper than normal taxis
- ferry and water taxi - It is possible to get around parts of Florida by ferry; for example there is a high speed ferry service from Fort Myers to Key West and there are water taxis in places like Fort Lauderdale
- hotel courtesy shuttle - Many of the major hotels operate courtesy buses from and to the local airport and to nearby attractions and shopping malls
- airport shuttle - Most of the major airports are serviced by airport shuttle bus operators such as Mears Transportation. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel then you may be able to use their Magical Express bus service from Orlando airport to your Walt Disney World resort hotel
- hitchhiking - hitchhiking is generally frowned upon these days and leaving aside the safety aspect, there are strict Florida State laws governing where you can hitchhike
If any members of your party have mobility problems then be sure to read about enjoying Florida with mobility problems.
If you are staying in a villa then you will really need a car just to get to the local shops. If you have never rented a car before or driven in America then read about driving in Florida and renting a car for more details; it really is easy.