Map Quest suggests taking I-4 to Lakeland, then Hwys 98 and 17 south to Punta Gorda. Google recommends continuing on I-4 to I-75 and south. The Google trip is 30 miles longer, but appears to take the same amount of travel time.
I am leaning toward the MapQuest route as we generally prefer to avoid the Interstates as much as possible and go with the slower more scenic routes. However, since we have never been to Florida, I have no clue as to what sort of roads and landscapes we would encounter on this route.
Your thoughts and suggestions on this would really be appreciated.