Top 10 Scenic Drives in Florida

There’s a reason why visitors from throughout the United States and beyond flock to Florida for vacations and the residents rarely leave. It is home to countless natural wonders, a rich cultural history, and warm weather year-round. Barring the presence of tropical storms or hurricanes, every scenic drive here stays open regardless of season, so don’t hesitate to forge an intimate connection with this state through one of these striking routes:

No. 10 – Tamiami Trail

Tamiami Trail Florida
Flickr user: Zach Diehn

Starting Location: Tampa, FL
Ending Location: Miami, FL
Length: 287 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Florida residents are well-acquainted with the Tamiami Trail, and it’s not unusual to spend a day traveling it to see the sun rise on one side of the state and set on the other. This isn’t the only thing to recommend this drive, however. With plenty of ocean views and wildlife reserves to provide visual appeal, it’s hard to tire of the surrounding scenes. In the unlikely event of waning energy, though, consider stopping to brush up on circus history in Sarasota at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

No. 9 – Cracker Trail

Cracker Trail Florida
Flickr user: Houser

Starting Location: Fort Pierce, FL
Ending Location: Bradenton, FL
Length: 149 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Part of the Millennium Trails network launched to protect local wildlife and culture, the Cracker Trail takes travelers virtually back in time through history. It was once used for driving cattle, but the only time horses traverse it today is for the Annual Cross-State Ride that remembers this time through action. One of the most scenic stops, however, is the Highland Hammock State Park where oak trees bend and cypresses stretch into the sky.

No. 8 – A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway

A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway Florida
Flickr user: C J

Starting Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Ending Location: Daytona Beach, FL
Length: 85 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This highway connecting the barrier islands on the Atlantic coast provides spectacular views of both the land and sea. Although the distance can be traveled in a matter of hours, the cities it passes through are so rich in culture and activities, it’s really worth making into a weekend or longer trip. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, for instance, is a 73000-acre reserve full of natural wonder, and lighthouse enthusiasts won’t want to miss climbing the 219 steps of St. Augustine Lighthouse.

No. 7 – Ridge Scenic Highway

Ridge Scenic Highway Florida
Flickr user: VISIT FLORIDA

Starting Location: Sebring, FL
Ending Location: Haines City, FL
Length: 50 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

The Ridge Scenic Highway was developed to preserve the local culture in Central Florida and highlight the region’s more unique attractions. Much of it twists and turns with the Lake Wales Ridge, but there are plenty of spots to stop and gain a closer look at the fresh water. The highway also passes through vast citrus groves.

No. 6 – Old Florida Heritage Highway

Old Florida Heritage Highway Florida
Flickr user: Wesley Hetrick

Starting Location: Gainesville, FL
Ending Location: Island Grove, FL
Length: 23 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

At the mere mention of Florida, most visitors immediately think of the beaches or marshy wetlands, but there’s another earthier side to the state. This route spanning from Gainesville to Island Grove passes through more rural areas with kitschy shops and farmland. Designated hiking areas are peppered along the route with plenty of eccentric spots to refuel, including Garage Café in Micanopy.

No. 5 – Panhandle

Panhandle Florida
Flickr user: David Reber

Starting Location: Pensacola, FL
Ending Location: Panama City, FL
Length: 103 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

There’s a different feel to the beach towns along the Gulf than there is on the Atlantic side of the state, which is more laid-back than the hustle and bustle of the more tourist-filled Daytona Beach or Ft. Lauderdale. This tour of the Gulf coastline allows travelers to observe the quartz sand and sparkling water from a distance, or pull over to more fully experience the most enticing spots along the way. Stop at Bay Bluff Park with the highest natural elevation to view the surroundings, or explore the quirky culture for a seaside lunch in Destin.

No. 4 – Ormond Scenic Loop

Ormond Scenic Loop Florida
Flickr user: Rain0975

Starting Location: Flagler Beach, FL
Ending Location: Flagler Beach, FL
Length: 32 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

The Ormond Scenic Loop isn’t just about taking in the Florida coastline and breathing in the salt air; there are scores of opportunities to see the local wildlife in action at spots like Avalon State Park and St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. There are man-made wonders to delight the senses as well, including the historic Ormond Yacht Club and the Dummet Plantation Ruins at Bulow Creek State Park.

No. 3 – Indian River Lagoon

Indian River Lagoon Florida
Flickr user: GunnerVV

Starting Location: Titusville, FL
Ending Location: Titusville, FL
Length: 186 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This trip along Florida’s Space Coast inspires travelers to not just look at the world at eye level but also above with natural beauty all around and tributes to those who have explored the beauty outside our planet. Stop to feel underfoot where so many excitedly watched shuttles launch at Space View Park and United States Space Walk of Fame Museum, or hone birdwatching skills at one of the numerous wildlife refuges along the drive. To forge a different breed of close encounter, stop in Melbourne to tour the Brevard Zoo toward the end of this scenic drive.

No. 2 – Loop Road

Loop Road Florida
Flickr user: Franklin Heijnen

Starting Location: Ochopee, FL
Ending Location: Shark Valley, FL
Length: 36 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Running parallel to the Tamiami Trail, Loop Road offers a grittier and perhaps more authentic look at the Everglades. In the 1920s, the area it covers was booming with bootleggers and brothels, and remnants of that era can still be seen in the roadside businesses and structures today. Gators crossing the road is a common sight, and travelers have a host of options for down-home Florida fare, including iconic Joanie’s Blue Crab Café.

No. 1 – Florida Keys

Florida Keys Florida
Flickr user: Joe Parks

Starting Location: Florida City, FL
Ending Location: Key West, FL
Length: 126 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Traveling the Overseas Highway between Florida City and Key West is one of those breathtaking experiences travelers won’t soon forget. It is like cruising a thin thread dividing the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and the colors of the sunrise and sunset are even more spectacular when set against an overwhelming expanse of sea all around. Although the drive can be completed in just over a couple of hours, stopping to explore places like John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park or the artsy village of The Rain Barrel is highly suggested.

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