Chasing the Sun on a Sunrise to Sunset Florida Road Trip

The abundance of points to do and lovely destinations to check out are just various of the joys of dwelling in Central Florida. One particular of the most unique trips any Floridian can embark on is a dawn to sunset highway vacation.

These kinds of a vacation consists of waking up to the sunrise on the east coast, driving throughout the condition, and ending the day by looking at the sunset on the west coastline. Orlando’s central site would make this journey less complicated than at any time to carry out with a minor planning.

My partner and I dreamed of obtaining these a excursion jointly back when we have been dating, but we didn’t fulfill that aspiration until finally our 2nd marriage ceremony anniversary. It was anything we hoped it would be, but it took some planning to make it transpire. Study on for our recommendations and advisable itinerary for organizing a dawn to sunset Florida road vacation of your individual.

Initially revealed in November 2019, updated August 2022 

Picking Your Destination on the East Coast

The vital to a productive dawn to sunset vacation is to make it a two-night time undertaking. We booked our initial night in Cocoa Beach. We stay in Seminole County, so Cocoa Seashore and New Smyrna Beach front are our two closest seashores. I picked Cocoa Beach front for a several explanations: I have fond memories of spouse and children excursions there, and it is an straightforward spot to entry from Orlando many thanks to the Seashore Line, toll road 528.

Other recommended places: New Smyrna Beach front, Daytona Seashore, and Vero Beach front.

Dawn in Cocoa Seaside

In the morning we woke up, place a pot of coffee on, and walked about 100 toes from our room’s entrance door to the seaside. Foolishly we had checked the sunrise time on a climate app and established our alarms for 30 minutes beforehand. This was an mistake mainly because the dawn is selected by the minute the sunlight will cross the horizon, thus when we awoke the progression of the dawn was currently in movement.

Established your alarm for 45 minutes prior to the sunrise.

We desired to dip our toes in the drinking water so we ongoing even more to the shore. The peace and silent of this minute took my breath absent. Just me, my partner, and our little boy there on the seaside, we stood barefoot as the waves came crashing in and the sky modified from purple to pink to orange.

Savoring the dawn view from the beachfront lounge region | Impression credit history: Dani Meyering

Following expending some time on the seaside, we headed back again to our hotel’s outside lounge area. I built myself at property in a hammock though my spouse sat beside me in a wooden chair and our son conversed with the very small bunny rabbit beneath our toes. A pure second. We explored the rest of the sitting down region the moment the sunlight experienced totally risen in advance of heading again to our very little cottage for breakfast.

The place to Stay

We opted for oceanfront lodging so that we could simply wake up and both sit on our balcony to view the dawn or walk just a couple of toes out to the seaside. Soon after hunting a handful of motels and Airbnb / VRBOs I came across Seashore Put Guesthouses.

What sealed the deal for me was the beachfront and lounge places suited for seeing the dawn. Perks involve at ease Adirondack and lounge chairs, tables and chairs, a couple hammocks, and even firepits and grills with all the vital parts presented.

Sundeck for a sunrise to sunset Florida road trip in Cocoa Beach  with hammock and deck chairsSundeck for a dawn to sunset Florida highway excursion in Cocoa Seashore – Dani Meyering

The $15 vacation resort cost includes these facilities furthermore complimentary yoga in the early morning and beach gear including chairs, boogie boards, and toys. Furthermore there is a “family room” with a e-book library, flicks, and a large format Tv set.

Our toddler son arrived together with us so we desired excess area. Seaside Place Guesthouses presents accommodations with several bedrooms and full-measurement kitchens. We picked a 1 bedroom which was excellent for our family members and properly appointed.


I revisited the Beach front Area Guesthouses at the stop of August 2022. In fact, it turned my respite immediately after a extremely extended working day at the push web-site for the Artemis I launch. After 3 several years away, I apprehensive if this put would still keep its appeal. I am pleased to report that it does.

The accommodations are by no suggests attractive or stylish. They are, having said that, cleanse, relaxed, and full of thoughtful touches. The prevalent locations are just as attractive. Leisure is uncomplicated to discover in the quite a few seating parts overlooking the seaside. And all the same excess features are however presented.

Living Room of a One Bedroom at Beach Place Guesthouses Cocoa Beach Dwelling Space of a One Bedroom at Beach front Put Guesthouses Cocoa Beach front – Dani Meyering

Other oceanfront accommodations for your sunrise to sunset Florida street excursion:

Beachplace Guest Houses in Cocoa BeachSeaside Spot Guesthouses | Image credit rating: Dani Meyering

Driving Across the Point out

Immediately after a leisurely early morning, we packed up our auto and hit the street to drive across the total point out of Florida. We had prepared out the best pit cease together the way: Walt Disney Planet. It took just above an hour to get from the vacation resort to our future spot. Owning this entertaining crack in the center of our dawn to sunset Florida road excursion designed a major variance.

A couple weeks prior to our excursion we considered acquiring lunch at Disney Springs. As an alternative, I made the decision a vacation resort hotel would be much better and, right after some deliberating, we determined on Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. I knew the resort had enough appealing facts for us to examine and I desired to introduce a person of my beloved eating places to my husband.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the ideal pit stop! | Image credit: Dani Meyering

Geyser Level is an out of doors restaurant that is section lounge and element lake dwelling. There is a plentiful selection of craft beer, Pacific Northwest wine, cocktails, mocktails, and great eats. Just after a scrumptious meal we had been ready to take a look at the total vacation resort grounds.

Soon we had been back on the street. It took just more than an hour and a fifty percent to get from Walt Disney World to the Tampa area. Even although we were in the long run headed for Clearwater Beach front, I booked our lodge in the Tampa Bay space. This way we did not have practically two hours to travel from Orlando and we could end, examine-in, get refreshed, then head to the beach front.

You could also use this time to explore a Tampa brewery or two!

Sunset in Clearwater Seaside

We headed out to Clearwater Beach front close to 4pm with the sunset’s past light-weight slated to be at 7:12pm. Here yet again, the past light does not imply the encounter of the sunset is in excess of, as a lot of of the abundant colors and hues come about at the time the solar is no longer noticeable on the horizon. Site visitors was a bit congested and we opted to park at a single of the big parking garages on Coronado Drive ($15 for 3 several hours).

I are not able to visit the Clearwater space and not take in at Frenchy’s, it just feels incorrect. This community eatery is recognised for grouper sandwiches and has blossomed with numerous locations in the Clearwater and Dunedin space. We dined at the Frenchy’s South Seashore Cafe site so that we have been close to Pier 60.

Frenchy’s | Image credit history: Dani Meyering

Right after dinner we strolled alongside the sidewalk ideal next to the beach. Vehicles cruised by as households performed on the well known seashore. We created our way towards Pier 60 where there is a nightly sunset celebration. Vendors, performers, and other routines line the pier for about two hrs just before sunset and continue on to entertain visitors until two several hours after sunset.

On viewing the crowds on the pier (it was a Saturday night right after all) we determined to keep on the seaside and delight in the sugary, tender sand.

Quickly on the horizon we witnessed sailboats, yachts, and a pirate ship voyage out on the ocean. I turned around to see the tall accommodations, numerous with rooftop sunset viewing locations that have been packed with fellow sunlight worshippers.

Listed here we have been, we ventured throughout the total condition, chasing the solar. The contrast amongst the peaceful early morning with just the three of us on the seaside when compared to the commotion of Clearwater Beach front stood out in my brain. However, it was a excellent ending to our sunrise to sunset Florida highway vacation.

Sunrise to Sunset Florida Road Trip - Sunset on Clearwater BeachSunset on Clearwater Seashore at Pier 60 | Graphic credit score: Dani Meyering

Visitors leaving Clearwater Seashore was far from perfect, even so. The singular road top absent from the seashore was congested and there was an incident on Courtney Campbell Causeway. In the conclude, it took us virtually an hour to get again to our hotel. But the moon was just about complete so we savored the various vantage factors of seeing the moon shimmer on the water.

Other Florida locations on the West Coastline to conclude your sunrise to sunset Florida highway excursion:

  • St Petersburg
  • Sarasota
  • Anna Maria Island
  • Siesta Crucial
  • Crystal River

Where by to Stay to wrap up your dawn to sunset Florida highway excursion

Similar to my practical experience in Cocoa Beach, my family stayed in the Tampa Bay space routinely when I was escalating up. I’ve produced an affinity for this spot, particularly the Courtney Campbell Causeway. During my time working in the lodge market, I developed a love for the Westin brand name, many thanks to its focus on wellness (the shower and beds are marketed as getting “heavenly” and I am disinclined to argue).

The Westin Tampa Bay is an suitable spot if you want to keep in the Tampa Bay region for your sunrise to sunset Florida street excursion. It is surrounded by h2o so virtually every single space has a water look at. There is a entire-provider Starbucks on website and a pleasant seafood cafe and lounge identified as Aqua.

There is also a small minor beach front for sitting in the sand and taking pleasure in the view of the bay. Just one downfall is this resort is now valet parking only, and there is an further charge for an in-room mini fridge. This resort is a good preference for couples, but it was tough with a toddler in tow.

The view from our hotel room at The Westin  Clearwater during our sunrise to sunset Florida road tripThe watch from our resort place at The Westin | Impression credit rating: Dani Meyering

Other lodging in Tampa Bay and Clearwater Seashore:

Sunrise to Sunset Florida Highway Trip – Suggestions and Facts

  • Map out your sunrise to sunset trip nicely in advance. Make sure your dawn spot is compatible with your sunset spot. For illustration, setting up the working day in St. Augustine would not make that considerably perception to stop the working day down in Sarasota.
  • Slide and winter are greater moments to do this journey simply because of the nice weather conditions and shorter daylight hours.
  • Check out the exact locale of your lodging so you know if you’ll be equipped to roll out of mattress and onto the seaside for sunrise and effortlessly get again to your lodging just after a long, but enjoyable day traversing the state.
  • System a extended pit prevent midway by your push from coast to coast. Have a awesome lunch, it’s possible visit a roadside attraction, take a walk.
  • Hydrate and eat properly so you have the endurance to love the day from starting to end.
  • Just take a deep breath and be as current as doable.

All photographs by Dani Meyering