20 scenic drives in Florida that absolutely demand a road trip

There's many ways to drive around the state, but don't punish yourself by sticking to the Turnpike or I-4. Scenic highways exist for a reason: Get to where you need to go but take in the best parts of Florida while doing so.

Captions by Kim Slichter

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A1A
If Roger Daltrey ever drove along this endless stretch of iconic Florida highway, he surely would sing about being able to see for miles and miles. This road pushes you along the state’s eastern coast for an almost continuous view of the beachline in the distance. When sand and waves don’t take up your view, however, you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of cities like St. Augustine.
Photo via A1A website
A1A
If Roger Daltrey ever drove along this endless stretch of iconic Florida highway, he surely would sing about being able to see for miles and miles. This road pushes you along the state’s eastern coast for an almost continuous view of the beachline in the distance. When sand and waves don’t take up your view, however, you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of cities like St. Augustine.
Photo via A1A website
Big Bend
Your experience here is entirely dependant on what season of the year you wish to navigate in, but no matter which one you choose, you’re bound to be in an awe of the nature you encounter. Spring will present to you blooming wildflowers and the tunes of songbirds. Summer serves for swimming. Butterflies and bird migrations take place in the fall. Even winter has its nature perks, for you’ll catch eagles nesting and alligators soaking up the Florida sun.
Photo via Big Bend website
Big Bend
Your experience here is entirely dependant on what season of the year you wish to navigate in, but no matter which one you choose, you’re bound to be in an awe of the nature you encounter. Spring will present to you blooming wildflowers and the tunes of songbirds. Summer serves for swimming. Butterflies and bird migrations take place in the fall. Even winter has its nature perks, for you’ll catch eagles nesting and alligators soaking up the Florida sun.
Photo via Big Bend website
Scenic Highway 30A
We know, we know, the name isn’t all that impressive, but the views certainly are. Avoid heading out to all the typical beaches people talk about on the regular, and instead drive through and definitely stop at the assorted ones this Gulf of Mexico-hugging highway takes you through.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Scenic Highway 30A
We know, we know, the name isn’t all that impressive, but the views certainly are. Avoid heading out to all the typical beaches people talk about on the regular, and instead drive through and definitely stop at the assorted ones this Gulf of Mexico-hugging highway takes you through.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Bradenton Beach
Car’s not necessary for this one, folks. This bike and pedestrian-friendly path takes you parallel to the Gulf where, if you’re lucky, you might see a manatee or two pop their adorable plumpy heads above water. Between them and the rich bird-watching opportunities, it might be better to step out of your car altogether to take it all in.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Bradenton Beach
Car’s not necessary for this one, folks. This bike and pedestrian-friendly path takes you parallel to the Gulf where, if you’re lucky, you might see a manatee or two pop their adorable plumpy heads above water. Between them and the rich bird-watching opportunities, it might be better to step out of your car altogether to take it all in.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Courtney Campbell
In over 80 years of existence, this ride has become many people’s go-to route to get from Tampa to Clearwater, especially for those who are looking to get a glimpse at Old Tampa. At just under 10 miles, Courtney Campbell will let you gaze at the crashing waves as palm tree after palm tree blows in the wind.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Courtney Campbell
In over 80 years of existence, this ride has become many people’s go-to route to get from Tampa to Clearwater, especially for those who are looking to get a glimpse at Old Tampa. At just under 10 miles, Courtney Campbell will let you gaze at the crashing waves as palm tree after palm tree blows in the wind.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Florida Black Bear
Most scenic highways in the state take you along the ocean, but this one will bring you right by the Ocala National Forest, the Big Scrub and a host of vibrant springs instead. In case the name didn’t clue you in, there’s a damn good chance you’ll see a Florida black bear along the way, so have your camera ready.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Florida Black Bear
Most scenic highways in the state take you along the ocean, but this one will bring you right by the Ocala National Forest, the Big Scrub and a host of vibrant springs instead. In case the name didn’t clue you in, there’s a damn good chance you’ll see a Florida black bear along the way, so have your camera ready.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Green Mountain
It’s easy to forget that Florida actually has hills to its name, so going through the Green Mountain might be a bit of a shocker. In just 12 miles, you’ll be able to drive over many of the largest hills in Lake Wales Ridge such as Sugarloaf Mountain, known as the tallest point in Florida, standing at 312 feet.
Photo via gm_pizza/Instagram
Green Mountain
It’s easy to forget that Florida actually has hills to its name, so going through the Green Mountain might be a bit of a shocker. In just 12 miles, you’ll be able to drive over many of the largest hills in Lake Wales Ridge such as Sugarloaf Mountain, known as the tallest point in Florida, standing at 312 feet.
Photo via gm_pizza/Instagram
Indian River Lagoon
This scenic highway is divided into three sections - the north, center, and south loop - so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to split up your exploration of this route. There’s three national wildlife refuges as well as an insane amount of state and local parks, throughout which you’ll see thousands of plant and animal species, more than in any other North American estuary. Surfers should bring their boards along, as you’ll be passing right through Cocoa Beach.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
Indian River Lagoon
This scenic highway is divided into three sections - the north, center, and south loop - so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to split up your exploration of this route. There’s three national wildlife refuges as well as an insane amount of state and local parks, throughout which you’ll see thousands of plant and animal species, more than in any other North American estuary. Surfers should bring their boards along, as you’ll be passing right through Cocoa Beach.
Photo via Florida Scenic Highway website
J. C. Penney Memorial
In the constant whirring of big city life, it’s pleasant to remember that small towns can still flourish, such as with Penney Farms, the town this scenic highway will take you through. Park your car and take the trolley around in this quaint pedestrian-friendly location, where you can check out historical buildings from the ‘20s, museums or simply enjoy the shade the oaks and magnolias provide for you.
Photo via J. C. Penney Memorial/Facebook
J. C. Penney Memorial
In the constant whirring of big city life, it’s pleasant to remember that small towns can still flourish, such as with Penney Farms, the town this scenic highway will take you through. Park your car and take the trolley around in this quaint pedestrian-friendly location, where you can check out historical buildings from the ‘20s, museums or simply enjoy the shade the oaks and magnolias provide for you.
Photo via J. C. Penney Memorial/Facebook
Florida Keys
Take in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, with there being nothing but you, your car, a bridge, and more water surrounding you than anyone can even begin to imagine. There’s stops along the way too to fuel your state park and museum needs in case you need to take a break.
Photo via antwahn_matas/Instagram
Florida Keys
Take in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, with there being nothing but you, your car, a bridge, and more water surrounding you than anyone can even begin to imagine. There’s stops along the way too to fuel your state park and museum needs in case you need to take a break.
Photo via antwahn_matas/Instagram