• Danielle

How to Plan the Best Florida Road Trip

Virus fatigue setting in? Feeling a desire for an experience outside of the home? Craving a little sunshine after this brutal winter? You’re not alone. After the year we’ve had, everyone deserves a vacation, and with the right precautions, a road trip to Florida is the perfect option.

Offering a safer alternative to flying, road trips can be as simple as exploring hidden treasures a few hours away, or as ambitious as a cross-country journey. Whatever you have planned, make sure to include Ocala, Florida as a stop along the way, which is conveniently located smack-dab in the middle of the state.

And since you’re stopping by, why not take advantage of all that Ocala has to offer? With year-round sunshine and myriad outdoor activities for the whole family, you might even consider extending your time in Ocala beyond just a one night layover. Either way, while you’re in town, choose the Equus Inn for your Ocala accommodations.

Preparing For Your Road Trip

Any successful road trip requires careful planning, which begins with setting your final destination, time, and budget. Need inspiration for where to go? Instagram, Pinterest, and travel blogs like Afar are great resources for sparking ideas.

Once you’ve set your final destination and have a sense for your timeline and budget, it’s time to plot your journey. Luckily, Google Maps offers a one-stop shop for road trippers, allowing you to mark multiple stops and estimate total driving time. TripAdvisor also has a ton of suggested itineraries, if you’re looking for a less hands-on approach. In general, it is recommended that you add an additional 25% to the estimated trip time to account for traffic and rest stops.

Also be sure to identify all of the places you will stay along the way and make reservations in advance. For your stay in Ocala, Equus Inn offers a fast and easy online booking experience, and booking directly with us guarantees a more affordable rate.

And don’t forget to have your car inspected before you hit the road. For a long drive, it’s recommended that your car is professionally serviced. At a minimum, be sure to check the oil, tire pressure, washer and brake fluid, and lights. If you’re looking to more thoroughly prepare your car for the drive, the Road Trip Expert has a handy step-by-step guide.

Don’t have a car, or don’t want to add the miles to your own vehicle? Renting is a great option either way, and you’ll ensure the best price if you book at least three months in advance, pick-up and drop-off on a weekday, and opt for a fuel efficient car. Check out VroomVroomVroom to compare rental car options and rates for your desired dates.

In our current environment, it is also important to factor in local COVID guidelines to ensure a safe and stress-free journey. The Federal Highway Administration is a great resource for state-by-state COVID guidelines, as they do vary by location.

Hitting the Open Road

Once your bags are packed and the tank is full, all that’s left to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Along the way, try to allocate time for visiting local attractions to break up the drive and really maximize your experience—you definitely don’t want to spend the whole time driving. Plus, after all the time spent in your house this year, you owe it to yourself to get out of your car to explore your surroundings! Google Trips is an easy-to-use resource for identifying things to do along the way. The Roadtrippers app is also helpful for finding interesting places to visit and allows you to pick from a variety of categories, from the historical to the quirky.

Whether you’re making a quick pit stop or taking a longer pause to sightsee, make sure that you are taking appropriate COVID precautions, because it is the stops along the way that will open you up to the most exposure. Experts advise packing masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, disposable gloves, plastic bags, and tissues to protect yourself and others along the way and to disinfect highly-touched surfaces. In particular, it’s recommended that you wear a mask when indoors or when you’re unable to maintain a six-foot distance outside, use disposable gloves when pumping gas, and pay with a credit card. You might also consider packing your own food and drink to reduce the number of indoor stops that you need to make.

Each day of your journey, call ahead to confirm your hotel or other lodging reservation for that evening. It’s also a good idea to ask about hotel opening hours, logistics, and any COVID protocols, in order to prevent any surprises upon arrival.

Stopping Over in Ocala

With its central location in Florida—directly off I-75—Ocala is the ideal stop on your upcoming Floridian road trip. But the reasons to stop here extend far beyond Ocala’s convenient geography. The beautiful weather and plethora of outdoor activities make it a desirable pit stop, especially during COVID. Whether you have one hour to spare or a full day, Ocala offers something for everyone.

For those pressed for time, consider stopping in historic downtown Ocala for an al fresco meal. Like its name implies, Mark’s Prime Steakhouse has a prime outdoor set-up, which both overlooks the town square and is covered in case of inclement weather. A little further off the square, Sayulita Taqueria serves up mouth-watering Mexican street tacos and multiple varieties of margaritas on its large courtyard. In general, though, you really can’t go wrong with any of the options on the square, the majority of which offer outdoor seating.

If you’re able to linger in Ocala for longer than a night, spend that time outside! Ocala has many wonderful outdoor activities, and you can take advantage of them all at either Silver Springs State Park or Ocala National Forest. Pack a picnic and spend the day on the water kayaking or canoeing, or hit the many available trails via horse, bike or foot. If you opt for Silver Springs State Park, you might also consider one of their famous glass bottom boat rides.

Planning Your Stay with Equus Inn

The choice is easy when planning your overnight accommodations in Ocala. With newly renovated rooms, a heated pool, and luxury amenities, the Equus Inn is a comfortable home away from home. It’s also a safe one, with robust COVID safeguards in place, including enhanced cleaning measures, social distancing guidelines, masking requirements in public areas, contactless check-out, individually wrapped breakfast, and more.

Whether you’re able to join us for an extended stay, or just for the night, we are a convenient stop on your upcoming Florida road trip. Located right off I-75, you won’t have to waste precious minutes off the highway to find us, and we’re just a short drive away from downtown Ocala and other local hot spots.

The open road is calling your name. So don’t delay, book your room at the Equus Inn today, and get excited for your upcoming adventure!

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