Travel

10 Road trip-worthy Northwest Florida destinations and attractions that won't break the bank

St. George Island is a desirable jumping off point for Northwest Florida adventures.

Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

There's a lot of wide open America to fall in love with between your home and your destination. Taking the long way or the road less traveled isn't a bad thing. It can lead to new adventures that end up as fond memories.

Almost as important as the destination itself is the vehicle you choose to road trip in. Click here to see AutomotiveMap's picks for best road trip SUV and here to see the best road trip cars. Click here to see AutomotiveMap's advice for planning the perfect road trip.

The next time you're planning a road trip to Northwest Florida, consider the following destinations, which are not on the usual tourist roster.

Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park

Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

With over 2,000 acres of parkland, Grayton Beach State Park has something for nearly everyone. Bicycling, hiking, birding, paddling on the backwaters, fishing, a beach, and a boat ramp are among the amenities. There are camp sites and cabins available for rent including accessible camping options.

​Bald Point State Park

Bald Point State Park is perfect for budding wildlife and nature photographers. Grab your camera and your bicycle and head to explore the park where each autumn bald eagles and other migrating raptors, and monarch butterflies, all stop to take a break on their way South for the winter. The park also has beaches, canoe/kayak launch, and bathing station. There is only one primitive camp site available and reservations must be made in advance.

Downtown Pensacola ghost tour

Friends in front of Pensacola Mural

Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

Grab your sneakers and get ready to head out to learn more about the history of Pensacola, one of the earliest-founded cities in Florida, and its macabre (and often humorous) past. Each tour features a minimum of six people and starts at Fleet Landing. Though it's not long (about one mile), there's plenty of standing and listening during the one-hour tour. Want more fun? Take the ghost and graveyard tour, offered by the same company.

Deer Lake State Park

Coastal dunes are rare in Florida but if you're a fan, Deer Lake State Park should be on your list. It has a coastal dune lake, an exceptionally rare geographic feature. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the white sandy beach of the Gulf Coast, birding, and hiking on the interpretative trail. Swimming is allowed. There are no camping facilities at this park.

Florida's caverns

FLORIDA CAVERNS MARIANNA

Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

One of the best parts of the Sunshine State is kept out of the sun entirely. Florida Caverns State Park is home to large underground rooms where visitors can see the usual array of cavern features (including wildlife) in addition to chisel marks made by 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps workers. Guided tours of the caves are available, but sell out quickly.

Florida’s Big Bend National Scenic Byway

If you're the type that likes to put the windows/top down on your car and take in the sights and sounds of a long drive, the Big Bend National Scenic Byway may be right up your alley. The 220-mile scenic drive winds through coastal and forest portions of Leon, Wakulla, and Franklin Counties. Guides that break down the route by your specific time allowance and interest are available at the website.

Florida's highest waterfall

Falling Waters State Park

Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

Hop off of I-10 and visit Chipley, Florida, home of Florida's highest waterfall. Measuring 100 feet deep, 20 feet wide, the cylindrical pit that the water flows into starts from a small stream and falls 73 feet to the bottom. Where does it go from there? No one knows.

Adventure further and explore the Sink Hole Trail at Falling Waters State Park, which features a path that winds under a canopy of trees and includes a wooden boardwalk where visitors can see migrating butterflies, take a dip in the lake, or enjoy a picnic. Campsites are available.

World’s Smallest Police Station

The World's Smallest Police Station is located in Downton Carrabelle, Florida, next to the post office. While there's not a lot to see, it makes for a great selfie spot and Instagram moment. The best news is, seeing it is free!

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

TOPSAIL HILL PRESERVE STATE PARK

Photo courtesy of Visit Florida

The emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico serve as the tipping off point for a fabulous visit to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. White quartz dunes, old-growth pine forests, sandy scrubland, and wetlands are all part of the park's surrounds. Bicycling, birding, fishing, hiking, and paddling can all be on the agenda. Guided tours are available. Camping, cabins, bungalows, and glamping are available, as are accessible accommodations.

Dog Island

Dog Island is one of the most unique parts of Florida. No vehicles are allowed on the barrier island that sites just 3.5 miles off-shore from Carrabelle. It's a space where time slows to true island time. There's only one hotel on the island and most of the environment is unspoiled.

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The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye is the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Dodge's trio of fresh horsepower hellions is rounded out by the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, a 797-horsepower car that is the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.

The exterior of the model is a Charger Widebody, complete with 3.5 inches of width, which alloss for proper space for the car's wide wheels and tires. It rides on standard 20-inch-by-11-inch Lightweight Carbon Black wheels wrapped on Pirelli 305/35ZR20 tires. Three-season wheels are also available.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The car has a revised, functional hood scoop.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The front of the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye features a mail-slot grille. Side sills connect the front and rear fascias.

Thirteen different exterior colors are available including: F8 Green, Frostbite, Go Mango, Granite Crystal, Hellraisin, IndiGo Blue, Octane Red, Pitch Black, Sinamon Stick, Smoke Show, TorRed, Triple Nickel, and White Knuckle.

The Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye has a top speed of 203 mph (7 mph higher than the standard Charger SRT Hellcat), which it reaches thanks to its supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8. The engine also achieves 707 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. That all sits. below a freshly fashioned performance hood.

Dodge has given the model an upgraded torque converter, which gives the car an 18-percent increase in torque multiplication.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Dodge has given the model a number of upgrades over the traditional Charger.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

"The Charger is a big, comfortable, five-passenger sedan that can run the quarter-mile in the mid-10s, 0-60 in the mid 3s and reach a top speed of 203 mph, and be your daily driver," said said Tim Kuniskis, Global Head of Alfa Romeo and Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. The Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye runs 1.2 seconds faster than the Charger SRT Hellcat on a 2.1-mile road course, equal to about seven car lengths after one lap.

Like its Demon relative, the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye's engine has 25 major component upgrades a larger supercharger, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, larger induction air box, two dual-stage fuel pumps, high-speed valve train, fuel injection system, SRT Power Chiller, After-Run Chiller, and improved lubrication system.

The cabin's dashboard is centered by an 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, which includes performance pages where owners can monitor the vehicles' performance on and off the track.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The interior features standard Laguna leather seats.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The standard Laguna leather seats are embossed with the SRT Hellcat logo. Buyers can add the Alcantara Appearance Package which adds Alcantara upholstery and retains the embossed logo. Seats are stitched with silver thread.

The interior is accented by Light Black Chrome material and it features a Gunmetal SRT Hellcat instrument panel badge. Additionally, the car gets a red speedometer, Light Black Chrome instrument panel badge with SRT Hellcat Redeye logo, SRT Hellcat Redeye logo splash screen, and SRT Hellcat Redeye logo on the key fobs.

The Carbon & Suede Package, available on Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, adds real carbon fiber accents to the instrument panel and console bezels and Dinamica suede headliner, sun visors and A-pillars.

Dodge sells the model in six interior color combinations: black, black/caramel, black/Demonic Red, black/houndstooth, black/Ruby Red, and black/sepia.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The rear of the model features familiar Dodge Charger design.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Dealer orders open for 2021 Dodge Charger models this autumn and vehicles are scheduled to start arriving in dealerships in early 2021

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The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Altitude is a new offering for this year.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Customer have spoken and Jeep has heard. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator will be available in an Altitude trim level in direct response to customer requests.

"Our Jeep Gladiator Altitude model is a direct response to customers who ask for a 'blacked-out' look directly from the factory. The Jeep Altitude models continue to resonate with customers and adding Gladiator completes this lineup," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America. "We are thrilled that the popular Altitude model joins the Gladiator lineup and is another way for Jeep to connect with customers."

2020 Jeep Gladiator Altitude The new model features black accents.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Gladiator Altitude joins the newer Gladiator High Altitude and Gladiator Mojave in the Jeep trucks lineup. The High Altitude model is more refined than the Altitude while the Mojave delivers desert terrain-conquering prowess.

The new 2020 Gladiator Altitude is based on the Gladiator Sport S. On the outside, it features a body-color grille with Dark Gray throats and headlamp rings, body-color fender flares, and black Jeep and Trail Rated badging. The truck rides on 18-inch Granite Crystal aluminum wheels wrapped in 255/70R18 Bridgestone Dueler All-Terrain tires.

A black Freedom hardtop is standard on Gladiator Altitude while the dual top is available.

The truck has standard black cloth seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel with black stitching and Wizard Black instrument panel mid-bolster and bezels.

Jeep equips each Gladiator Altitude with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that delivers 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available.

Gladiator Altitude models will be available in Jeep showrooms early in the third quarter.

Gladiator Altitude is available in Black, White, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, Granite Crystal, Sting Gray, Hydro Blue, Gator and Gobi paint jobs.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Altitude Edition is priced at $40,340 and comes with an additional $1,495 destination charge.

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