We decided to go for a more scenic route than I-4 to Tampa, then the I-75 Naples. Leaving Crescent Lakes we headed for Haines City on US 17/92, then followed the US 17 through Winter Haven, Bowling Green and Arcadia joining the I-75 at junction 164. Whilst on this part of the journey you see some of the real Florida and its people going about their business and miles of orange groves. I must say that the road signs were very poor and we were often unsure of our exact location, but by using the cars digital compass and keeping the car going in roughly a SE direction we made it. Also if you’re from the UK you would be used to lay-bys. These were almost none existent on this route. We stopped for our packed lunch at a Picnic Site south of Arcadia (marked on most maps). It consisted of a bit of gravel off the main road and a few picnic benches on some grass, no toilets, shops or cafe (good job we took a packed lunch).
After joining the I-75 at junction 164 we immediately pulled off at the first services at junction 161 for toilets and Mc Donalds ice cream. Those of you not familiar with US junction numbers you should note the number relates to the distance from the end, therefore the adjacent junctions 164 and 161 are 3 miles apart. The final part of the journey on the Interstate was easy, the interstates are much more like the British motorways, but just about every junction on an Interstate has some sort of services.
I am glad we went cross country for the first part of the journey but if we do it again I will be tempted to do I-4 to Tampa if I had the same passengers. Two children and a grandma with no proper services or road signs for over 100 miles could be a reciepe for disaster.
We had previously booked our accommodation at the Park Shore Resort (600 Neapolitan Way). We pulled off I-75 at junction 111 and headed West on Pine Ridge Road, until we reached US 41. Turning South on US 41 Neapolitan Way was on the right next to the Neapolitan Way Shopping Complex after about 2 – 3 miles.
Arriving at 5pm we were some what limited for time, so we asked about a local beach and drove about 1 mile to Clam Pass on Seagate Drive, the Resort would refund the $6 parking fee but as it was late we were never charged anyway. I would recommend waiting for one of the golf buggies that run from the car park to the beach along the boardwalks through the mangroves. We started to walk to discover it was about 1 mile to the actual beach, luckily we got picked up half way by a buggy. The beach is beautiful as you can see above.