Interstate Rest Areas in Florida
Become familiar with some of the best roadside stops that you can use for your comfort and convenience when using Florida highways. It will save you time and headaches on the road.
Florida is seeing massive population growth, ranking No. 2 in the country for most residents gained between July 2020 and July 2021, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Florida’s population in 2022 is estimated to be 22 million and it is the third most populous state in US. Its no surprise that driving to get ANYWHERE, not just to visit a beach, is becoming a struggle for Florida travelers.
Best Rest Stops In Florida
The Florida Highway Patrol is working to reduce the time motorists spend in traffic jams. They are adding rest stops to some of the most congested areas in Florida. There are 65 total Rest Areas, this number includes 8 Turnpike Service Plazas and 4 Welcome Centers. You can get a physical map at the Welcome Centers. This can be a big help on any Florida road trip. We've all been steered in the wrong direction by our GPS from time to time.
The best resource to find a rest area is FDOT. You can choose to look at the online map or a list. The stops are available for drivers to use as a place to rest, eat, and even refuel. Although the state of Florida has made provisions for these rest stops so that drivers can stop at them any time, some are better than others. Not all of them have gas stations. It is important for you to find the best rest areas for your Florida trip before you go. Nothing is worse than needing to stop and the rest area is closed for maintenance!
Florida Service Plazas vs. Welcome Centers
Service Plazas are found only along Florida’s Turnpike System. Service Plazas have fuel stations, convenience stores, and restrooms. Welcome Centers have tourist information. They are operated by Visit Florida, Inc. Welcome Centers are located at entrances to the State on I-10, US 231, I-75 and I-95. Most of the rest areas provide ADA compliant family restrooms for travelers who may need companion assistance to make use of the facilities. The facilities in Welcome Centers and Interstate Rest Areas are maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please note: there are no state rest stops in the Florida Keys. Your choices will be gas stations, restaurants and convenience stores. Luckily, in Florida, these are everywhere.
Safety at Florida Rest Centers
There is overnight security at the state rest centers, however, sleeping at these rest centers may leave you vulnerable to theft. There is a 3 hour limit allowed by law for sleeping in your car (for non-commercial drivers). If you are too drowsy to drive and need more than three hours, tell the security guard you are tired and need a little more time. Camping is prohibited.
Rest Area Rules to Follow
Florida Traffic and Tolls
While traveling through the State of Florida you can always call or use the 511 mobile app for the most up-to-date traffic information. It also will tell you about construction, road closures, and weather. It will even tell you if a drawbridge is up or down! Being aware of where rest stops are located on your road trip will help you leave any highway congestion should it occur. Toll roads can be pricey but are often worth it in busy traffic areas. Check out more Florida toll information at the Sunpass website.
Favorite Florida Rest Stops
Polk County, I-4 Eastbound Rest Area near Lakeland
This clean rest stop with lots of parking, offers some interesting wild life. Visitors have reported seeing Sand Hill Cranes. The landscape is lovely and relaxing while you snack at the picnic tables. This is the last rest stop on I-4 East before you reach Disney World. There is a pet area. If you need fuel, there is a Shell just before the rest stop on FL-559, Polk City or a Marathon at the interchange right after the rest stop (state road 557).
Hillsborough County, I-75 Southbound in Ruskin
This Tampa area rest stop is brand new, with some construction ongoing at time of publishing (parking areas). It is clean and well lit. All the picnic and public areas are accessible. There are also enough handicap parking spaces if needed. A fenced dog area is available: so great for our pups! There is a RaceTrac at the interchange just before the rest area if you need fuel. Keep going to get to Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key Beach.
Brevard County, I-95 South Rest Area in Grant-Valkaria
This large rest stop has plenty of clean bathrooms and tons of parking. It is one of the cleanest on I-95. It is just south of Melbourne, FL. Take our advice, stop here and not at Mims if you are on your way to Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach or Ormond Beach.
Some of the most interesting Rest Areas are located on Alligator Alley in South Florida on I-75 between Naples and Ft. Lauderdale. Two in Collier County in Ochopee, FL, are halfway through Alligator Alley. When we visited it was clean and with lots of lighting. The one in Broward County has a lot of interesting information on the Everglades. It is quite busy since it is the last rest stop in Broward.
Santa Rosa County, I-10 Eastbound and Westbound Rest Stops near Pensacola, FL
We had to include both of these because they are so highly rated. Clean and well-lit, the vending is top notch and includes ice cream. With trails to walk your pets, the experience is complete if you are in the Florida Panhandle area. Security is also good here. There's a Blue Angels airplane statue at this rest stop. Perfect, because there is always something interesting to find on a Florida road trip.
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