Florida claims 1,800 miles of coastline – meaning a basket of peel-and-eat shrimp, waving palm trees and hypnotic sunsets are never far away.

Fort George Island
Drive the Saturiwa Trail that circles the wetlands of Fort George Island Cultural State Park and take in the 19th-century, cotton- growing Kingsley Plantation house.

Eat: head to beach hut café, inland from Jacksonville beach, for southern-style breakfasts (1281 3rd street south; less than £5). Sleep: try genteel Addison B&B (from £120).

St Augustine
Head south and before you know it, you’ll motor into St Augustine Beach, with its fishing pier and striped lighthouse. Beachcomb or swim, or head into downtown St Augustine, Florida’s oldest European settlement, which is riddled with alleyways and, allegedly, ghosts.

Eat: call in at Cap’s on the Water, a seafood house in an authentic 1940s fishing camp, for shrimp and Floridian gumbo (mains from £7). Sleep: Our House B&B has tasteful rooms in the main Victorian home and serves a full-on breakfast (from £100).

Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach has a carnivalesque atmosphere on its vintage 1950s boardwalk. Nascar’s first auto-racing dragway took place here in 1948, then the modern Daytona Speedway opened as the fastest course ever built for stock cars. Sit (virtually) in the driver’s seat at the Daytona 500 Experience.

Eat: Down the hatch, live bands and surf-and-turf go hand in hand (mains from £11). Sleep: Aku Tiki Inn has a tropical kitsch appeal (from £63).

Space Coast
NASA was founded here in the 1950s and it was from Cape Canaveral that humans first landed on the moon. The Kennedy Space Center has a rocket park and shuttle- launch simulator. Around the centre is Canaveral National Seashore; take a dip at Apollo Bay or Cocoa Beach.

Eat: the best end-of-day views are to be had at Sunset Waterfront Café and Bar (mains from £6). Sleep: bed down in beautiful Inn at Cocoa Beach (from £94).

Palm Beach
Laze on its white-sand municipal beach or cycle the Intracoastal Waterway on the Lake Trail and gawk at the swanky mansions.

Eat: gorge on biscuits and gravy, omelettes and burgers at vintage diner Green’s Pharmacy (mains under £8; 151 N county road). Sleep: Hotel Biba looks like a cute ’50s motel but rooms are modern (£69).

Miami is all about Latin flavour, especially when it comes to cuisine, so don’t miss the Cuban community in Little Havana. Calle Ocho is the heart of the neighbourhood, while cigar-smoking old Cuban men play chess in Máximo Gómez Park. Head to world-famous South Beach, part beach-bum, part A-list glamour girl, and home to a trove of art-deco hotels.

Eat: pick OLA for innovative Latin American cuisine, such as lobster tail marinated in coconut milk and citrus juice (mains from £11). Sleep: Biltmore Hotel is a grand 1920s Jazz age survivor in the wealthy coral gables area, ornamented with Italian, Spanish and Moorish accents (from £140).

Take a daytrip to Everglades National Park, the US’s largest subtropical wilderness, home to rare and endangered species. Unique ‘islands of life’ have been restored where wildlife, such as alligators and panthers, thrive.

Eat: Robert is Here sells ice-cream shakes, £3.50, and alligator jerky. Sleep: Long Pine Key Campground.

The article 'A Florida coast road trip' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.