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Palm Bay, FL to Ft Myers, FL Route

Started by realjd, January 28, 2010, 09:55:29 PM

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So I'm going to a wedding in Ft. Myers Beach (from Palm Bay) next weekend and am trying to figure out which route I want to take. If I want to stick to the freeways, it's about equal distance to go up through Orlando (95-528-417-4-75) as it is to go across on Alligator Alley (95-869-75). Google Maps and Bing Maps both show that it's quicker to go across the state near Lake Okeechobee with Bing recommending 95-70-27-29-80 and Google Maps recommending 95-70-78-80.

Google Maps shows all the choices within 5 minutes of each other at around 4h45m, and Bing maps shows cutting across the state on 70 being 3h40m with both freeway options being half an hour longer. I've found Bing's travel times to be much more accurate in the past, especially for non-freeways.

My question is this: how are the roads in the interior near Lake Okeechobee? Anyone drive out that way before? I've never been out there. It does look like it would be a more interesting drive. I'm assuming that the speed limits are nice and high (60 for 2 lanes, 65 for 4) and there aren't too many cops outside of the small towns. As long as I don't get stuck behind a slow citrus truck, I'll bet it's pretty quick.


US 98 and US 441 out west to the Lake in western Palm Beach County is a 4-lane highway through LOTS and LOTS of sugarcane.  The speed limit is 65 mph.  US 27 wraps around the south side of the Lake, also four lanes.  FL 70 west to the Gulf Coast is two lanes, but is largely straight and crosses through cattle ranches and some of Florida's more interesting prisons.

If you come back eastbound, you may consider FL 82 from Fort Myers to Immokalee at FL 29 through some very large orange groves in the southwest corner of Hendry County.  Since this is prime season for our citrus crop, the scent in the air should be wonderful. :nod:


I have traveled to Okeechobee from North Fort Myers many times in my lifetime and I find that the best way to get there from the Fort Myers area was by taking FL 80 east to La Belle and FL 29, then FL 29 north to Hendry County 78 east, going through Ortona before hitting U.S. 27, then taking U.S. 27 east five miles before taking FL 78 east (north) toward Okeechobee. Traffic along this particular routing was relatively light in the past and actually still was the case last year when I took a similar route to and through Okeechobee. And yes, the speed limits are pretty much 65 mph for the four-lane portions (FL 80 and U.S. 27) and 60 mph for FL 29, Hendry County 78 and FL 78.

If it were me, I would rather take that route to get from Palm Bay to Ft. Myers rather than go through any metropolitan areas and deal with any sort of traffic (or tolls for that matter).

Hope this helps in your decision!


I concur.  FL 80 and FL 29 are good, fast routes.  About 3 years ago I did some back-and-forth traveling b/w Orlando and Ft. Myers, and found 80-29-27-4 to be a much better alternative than 75-4, even with the traffic lights from Sebring on to the north.  I also made that trip one time last summer and it was no different.  Personally, I don't enjoy FL interstates where traffic will be moving at a brisk 75-80 one minute and the next minute everyone is slamming on their brakes, and then back to 75-80 after a couple of minutes.



Thanks for the advice! To follow up, I ended up taking 95-70-29-80 on the way there, then 80-29-78-27/78-78-98-70-95 on the way home. While driving up the side of the lake was interesting, taking 70 all the way to 27 was a much quicker drive. It took exactly 3 hours to get from Palm Bay to I-75 in Ft. Myers, then an extra half hour or so to get to the beach (Davis - 6 Mile Cypress - Summerlin). It wasn't a bad drive at all!


Glad to hear it!! Yeah, Florida 70 to U.S. 27 is probably a little quicker than taking Florida 78 around the lake as you can easily "fly" down Florida 70 (not that I have never done it...;) hehe).

And hopefully that traffic in Fort Myers or near the beach wasn't too bad for you. Having grown up down there I know these "snowbird" months are hectic traffic-wise, and getting around can sometimes take quite a bit longer.


Ft. Myers traffic was surprisingly bad. I spend the weekend before in Miami, and the Ft. Myers traffic surprisingly didn't move anywhere near as well. I got there at the evening rush hour though, so that probably contributed! On the east coast here, we have a good number of snowbirds and traffic is noticeably heavier in the winter, but I was shocked to see just how many there were out by you. There were honestly more IN, MI, OH, and ON plates than FL plates, and not just at the beach where you'd expect it. What amazed me was seeing the Wal-Mart parking lot on a Saturday morning. Every singly space was full, people were parking on the grass and along the road, and the line to get into the lot was backed about a 1/4 mile on to the highway.

It was also funny how differently the midwestern snowbirds drive compared to the northeastern snowbirds. The NY/NJ folks near me are all completely oblivious, but also aggressive. They'll turn out of a parking lot without looking into heavy traffic, almost getting hit, assuming everyone else will slow down and make room for them. Out by you, the midwesterners were still oblivious, but they were also timid. They'd not pull out of a parking lot if there was another car in sight even miles down the road.

It was a cool trip though. I'd never been out to SW Florida, and I'd like to explore better. It looked like there were lots of awesome places to go hiking, camping, and kayaking.


Yeah, the Fort Myers area often gets quite a bit more of the midwestern snowbirds than any of the northeastern ones, but you are absolutely correct about the aggressiveness vs. the timidness. And yes, I do remember seeing the full parking lots at the Wal-Mart's (and at almost every other retail store too!!).

There are several places to do things such as hiking, camping, and kayaking such as Koreshan State Park and Lovers Key State Park. Maybe if you make another journey over there you can check those places out!

Did you get to do any roading while you were over there? I would assume you would have seen the flyovers at Gladiolous and Summerlin and the SPUI at Summerlin and San Carlos Boulevard.


Quote from: flaroadgeek on February 13, 2010, 11:25:08 AM
Did you get to do any roading while you were over there? I would assume you would have seen the flyovers at Gladiolous and Summerlin and the SPUI at Summerlin and San Carlos Boulevard.

Yep, I saw the SPUI and flyovers along Summerlin, and saw the new overpass being built where it intersects Daniels Pkwy. I was impressed with the fact that Lee County seemed good about signing their county highways. They're terrible about that here in Brevard. I wanted to drive across a few of the bridges to Cape Coral, as well as drive out to Sanibel, but I didn't have time this trip. Next time!

I've had my eye on Cayo Costa State Park out that way. It's remote, but I like that. And there's no geocaches in the park yet, so it gives me the opportunity to leave one myself.

My wife and I have a Florida State Parks Passport book, and we're working (slowly) on collecting stamps from all of the parks. We hit Lovers Key and the Estero Bay Preserve while we were in town. Estero Bay was very flooded, surprising for this time of year, and Lovers Key would have been nicer if it weren't so windy!


Oh, I forgot to mention that I drove through downtown along SR-80 as well! It was cool with the red bricks, and I've never seen a white-painted stop light before (which I couldn't manage to find on Google Streetview).


Hmmmmm, a white painted traffic light?? Interesting...

They just redid a lot of downtown so that is probably the reason for not seeing it on Google Streetview...

Did you happen to notice how Florida 80 was signed through downtown? The GIS shapefiles have Florida 80 broken up through downtown now, so the state maintained portions are now discontinuous. Since I do not know when I will make it down there next anything you may have to share here would be most helpful!!


I was going westbound on 80, and it put me on 1st Street downtown. Once I got downtown, signage essentially stopped. I followed 1st until driving under the US-41 bridge, then had to find my way over on a small road to connect with McGregor. The road surface was red bricks for most of the downtown area (Past the BUS-41 bridges I think), and the stop lights were interesting: one horizontal signal over the road, with one vertical one on the decorative pole. The poles and light casings were painted white, and matched the lamp posts.

1st had 2-way traffic all the way through downtown if I remember correctly, which looks new compared to Google Maps. To tell you the truth, I thought I may have lost SR-80 for a while because signage was so bad. Even at the US-41 bridge (which 1st St. goes under), there weren't signs indicating how to get onto 41, where 80 was, or how to connect to anything else. The fact that it was all new construction probably explains the lack of signage, I'll bet they're not done with the work yet.

I had no clue any of this was new or changed, otherwise I would have paid more attention and maybe grabbed a few pictures!


Florida 80 is suppose to turn at Monroe Street, head south to Main Street, then turn west to meet U.S. 41. That is probably part of the reason you lost your way along Florida 80. From what I remember signage has always been poor on that stretch of First Street. Business U.S. 41 followed the same alignment for many years (not sure if it still does though-have not looked at the GIS data). And First Street turns into West First Street underneath the U.S. 41 overpass and eventually turns south to hit McGregor Boulevard (Florida 867) right before the Thomas Edison/Henry Ford Winter Estates. And from what I remember there were not many (if any) trailblazers along West First Street for U.S. 41, but there were at least two trailblazers for Florida 867, but are long since gone.

Luckily for you, the downtown area is not very large and you were able to navigate your way through :) Man I am going to have to make it down there to visit downtown soon to see these changes! Thanks for sharing some of your finds on here, otherwise I would have never known!


FYI, there are also white painted traffic lights in El Cajon along Business Loop Interstate 8:


Sure makes those green street signs stand out, as well as that amber on the one visible light  O.O

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