Budget Travel

Florida beaches: how to travel to beautiful destinations on a budget

Out of all the destinations across America, one of the most desired is Florida, also known as the Sunshine State. As the southernmost state in the continental United States, Florida is surrounded by gorgeous beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The state offers a range of destinations for beachgoers and those looking to relocate their family to a new, tropical climate.

But if you want to enjoy the state’s many stunning beaches on a budget, you need to know two important things: where to go and how to go. The options are endless, but some places are more expensive than others for a variety of reasons, including accessibility. 

This means that if you want to save on your trip, the best you can do is plan ahead and know what to expect from the destinations you choose. Here’s our advice on making the most of your Florida trip without breaking the bank. 

How to Travel Around Florida

Florida is a vast state, but don’t worry—there are plenty of ways for you and your travel companions to get around! In Florida, some of the best ways to travel include by car, train, or bus. 

Brightline Trains: Your Ticket to South Florida

If you are visiting Orlando or South Florida, Brightline trains are an excellent option for speedy, convenient transport. Known as Florida’s high-speed railway, you can travel from Orlando to Miami comfortably in 3h30, with tickets starting at $79. This is a great option to enjoy the scenery and avoid traffic on your trip.

Travelers can travel connected to WiFi, keep their devices charged during the trip, enjoy a wide range of meals and snacks, and travel in style between Florida’s major cities. For now, Brightline is only available between Miami and Orlando, with stops in Aventura, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, but an expansion to Tampa is on the radar. 

Amtrak Trains: Convenient Train Travel Around Florida

Amtrak is a great way to travel to Florida using public transportation. It’s the primary passenger rail service in the U.S. and has stops in key Florida cities like Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and others. The Silver Meteor train is the primary service, linking Miami and New York City for an exciting adventure.

Along with the scenic journey, Amtrak offers amenities like comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, dining options, and power outlets. Whether you want to relax or stay productive, Amtrak is a good choice for a trip to Florida.

Bus Travel: A Convenient Way to Travel Around Florida

Bus travel is a form of travel that can be highly advantageous in Florida. In a place where train travel is limited, and car rental can be expensive and cumbersome, bus travel offers you the convenience of highway travel without the stress. You can also purchase inexpensive tickets, ensuring that you save up to spend your money on other experiences during your trip.

Car Rentals: An Expensive But Expansive Experience

Car rentals are another option if you are considering traveling around Florida. If you rent a car, you can travel anywhere you want, whenever you want, ensuring you have unbridled time to experience everything you desire on your vacation. However, car rentals can be expensive and not the best option if you’re planning to stretch your budget. 

Best destinations to explore in Florida

Finding the ideal destination is one of the most important parts of an enjoyable Florida trip. Considering the vastness of the state, the best you can do is add to your itinerary cities that are close by, otherwise you might end up spending too much time on transportation and missing out on those precious rays of sunshine.

Here are some of the destinations that are great starting points for any Florida trip and from where it’s easy to reach other destinations within the state.

#1: Boca Raton

On the Atlantic Coast, Boca Raton provides a vibrant atmosphere and plenty of activities that don’t just involve the beach. If you are into wildlife preserves and national parks, you can visit the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. If you’re into shopping, Mizner Park is a good choice. 

For a great day at the beach, Red Reef Park and Spanish River Park provide crystal clear waters and make for a great day chilling out in the white sand. You can also snorkel, surf, and even paddle board to your heart’s content. Food options are also abundant, as well as a lively night life. 

How to get to Boca Raton

The strategic location of the city makes it easy to reach it by bus, train or car. Your options include:

  • Brightline trains: Boca Raton is one of Birghtline stops in Florida, between the Miami and Orlando service. There are 16 departures every day in each way, so it’s easy to get to Boca Raton if you’re coming from south or north Florida. 
  • Greyhound buses: the buses connect Boca Raton with a variety of Florida cities, including Miami, Orlando, Augusta, Williamsport and Williamsburg.Tickets tend to be affordable and you can often find them for less than $10, depending on where you’re coming from.    
Boca Raton
Boca Raton

#2: Palm Beach Palm Beach is one of the most popular destinations on the Atlantic Coast. Located just north of Boca Raton and about 70 miles from Miami, Palm Beach offers a little bit for everyone, whether you like nature, sunbathing, or shopping. 

For those who want to explore the city, there are plenty of picturesque streets to walk and many beautiful mansions on the island. At the Municipal Beach, you can sunbathe and snorkel and take in the scenery, or you can visit Phipps Ocean Park for shelling and snorkeling. 

To get to Palm Beach, take the Amtrak or Brightline to the city and then take buses. It is easy to travel to Palm Beach without even renting a car, allowing you to easily explore the beaches, the city, and the nightlife. 

How to get to Palm Beach

The strategic location of the city makes it easy to reach it by bus, train or car. Your budget options include:

  • Brightline trains: Boca Raton is one of Birghtline stops in Florida, between the Miami and Orlando service. There are 16 departures every day in each way, so it’s easy to get to Boca Raton if you’re coming from south or north Florida. 
  • Greyhound buses: buses connect West Palm Beach to cities like Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, Gainesville and more. From Miami, the trip costs about $20, but the final price varies according to your departure location. 
  • RedCoach: West Palm Beach is one of the stops in the route that connects Miami and Tallahassee. Their buses usually offer a more comfortable travel experience for a reasonable price, and you have the option to choose between different classes of buses: first class, executive, and economy. Economy class tickets from Miami cost around $25 while first class will be about double. 
Palm Beach
Palm Beach

#3. Fort Walton Beach

Along Florida’s desirable panhandle, Fort Walton Beach offers deep sea fishing, golf, swimming, and many attractions for couples and families. The Gulf Coast surf and sun are unbeatable, but there are other amenities, such as State Parks and aquariums, to explore. 

Okaloosa Island is the best spot to visit in Fort Walton Beach, where you can fish on the pier, walk along the boardwalk, and watch the gorgeous sunsets. You can also go to John Beasley Park for expansive, white sandy beaches and perfect afternoons to picnic. 

You can take the bus or train to travel to Fort Walton Beach. It’s recommended that once you arrive, you rent a car to ease your transportation around the area. No matter what you choose to do in Fort Walton Beach, you will surely have a fantastic time in the panhandle!

How to get to Fort Walton Beach

  • By Greyhound bus: you can get there by bus from different cities in the region:
    • From Tallahassee, a four-hour bus ride with tickets starting at $44
    • From Orlando, the drive takes about 11h and costs $75 
    • From Mobile (AL), it takes 2h20m and costs about $30
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach

#4: Islamorada

We couldn’t compile the best beaches in Florida without considering the Florida Keys, renowned worldwide. Islamorada is south of Key Largo and north of Marathon, comprised of six islands of tranquil water and sport fishing destinations. 

During peak months, you can visit and enjoy saltwater fishing and snorkeling at many of the local oceanfront hotels and their beaches. There are few public beaches, but your resort or hotel will likely have one available for you to enjoy. Activities range from snorkeling to swimming to lounging in the sand and surf. 

How to get to Islamorada in the Florida Keys

  • Greyhound or Flixbus buses: the bus trip takes about 2h, with buses leaving from different areas in the city of Miami. The price is around $15, so a day trip is perfectly possible. 
Islamorada, Florida Keys
Islamorada, Florida Keys

#5 Miami

Miami is a vibrant and diverse city, known for its stunning beaches, lively nightlife, and rich cultural scene, Miami has something for everyone to enjoy.

South Beach, with its iconic pastel-colored lifeguard towers, is a must-visit destination for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts. You can lounge on the soft sands, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, or stroll along Ocean Drive to soak in the lively atmosphere and art deco architecture.

Cuisine in Miami is a delightful blend of diverse flavors. From Cuban cafés in Little Havana to upscale waterfront dining in Brickell, the city offers a wide range of culinary experiences. Don’t miss out on trying some authentic Cuban coffee or indulging in fresh seafood.

To get to Miami, there are several convenient options available:

  • Miami International Airport: One of the busiest airports in the United States, Miami International Airport provides easy access to the city for travelers from around the world.
  • Amtrak trains: Amtrak connects the US by train, and you can find trains that serve Miami from cities like Orlando and Jacksonville. 
  • Brightline trains: the company offers high-speed services between Orlando and Miami, making it a convenient option for those traveling without a car.
  • Greyhound buses: If you prefer a budget-friendly option, Greyhound buses connect Miami to various cities across Florida and beyond. The main advantage of these buses is that you can easily find one that fits your schedule and desired destination. 
  • Flixbus: another alternative for trips in the US, they offer convenient services to many cities in Florida.
  • RedCoach: a good option for those looking for comfort on a budget. They offer first class, executive and economy buses to a wide range of destinations in the state. 
Miami beach
Miami Beach

Find your way around Florida

While there are many ways to get around Florida, your key to quickly exploring all of Florida’s beaches is through Busbud. Busbud allows you the flexibility of finding the best routes to your favorite destinations, by bus & train. Easily book your train and bus tickets on Busbud, finding the optimal route for your vacation while remaining within your budget.

Find your tickets today.