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7 Must-Do: Incredible Scenic Drives in Florida

Florida’s scenic routes are at the top of our US Roadtrips. The breathtaking views throughout Florida, making the Sunshine State a must-visit for nature lovers and road trip enthusiasts. While most people visit Florida in search of a relaxing beach escape, there’s so much more to see! There’s no better way to get to know Florida than by driving across it – try by taking the scenic route!

Florida coast at sandy beach with palm trees in the background

Regardless of your travel style, you’re bound to find a route to please. Florida’s natural beauty is so enthralling, with quirky towns splashed in colors and beaches so beautiful you’ll wonder if you’re in a tropical paradise. These are the most scenic drives in Florida for some serious fun in the sun adventures.

The Most Scenic Drives in Florida

Florida actually has a pretty extensive scenic highway program and six federally recognized scenic byways. And the cool thing about them is that they’re all different. Some take you along the coast, others further inland. You’ll see nature preserves and historic sites. And whether you have a few hours or a few days, you have options! 

1) A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

One of Florida’s most quintessential drives, the A1A brims with stunning views and fun stops to make along the way. It runs from Key West to Miami, spanning almost the entire length of the state along the Atlantic Coast. Throughout the drive, you’ll get to see colorful beach houses, historical Spanish forts, and indulge in outdoor activities. 

Highway A1A in Florida with palm trees
Highway A1A

Although it can be completed in a day, it is more enjoyable treating it as a road trip and stopping at some of the towns, landmarks, and beaches scattered along the way.  You could easily spend a week or more exploring the coast.

One can’t-miss experience is admiring the old-world charm of St. Augustine (one of our favorite small towns in Florida!) You can also fall in love with the funky character of Flagler town, and trying some outdoor sports at Ponte Vedra Beach.

red and white buildings with a fountain and pool in St. Augustine Florida
St. Augustine

2) Ocean Islands Trail

Technically, Ocean Islands Trail is part of A1A but it’s so stunning, it deserves it’s own spot on the list. 

This nearly 40-mile stretch of the road begins at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. It continues down through the Talbot Islands and Fort George Island to the Mayport Ferry. This will take you to Jacksonville via the St. Johns River.

beach at Amelia Island Florida
Amelia Island

This is the perfect scenic drive in Florida for a casual half-day or even as an activity out of Jacksonville. However, we think it’s worth spending a day or two in Amelia Island if you can!

3) Scenic Drive through Gainesville Springs

Crystal blue springs are a Florida staple, and this road trip through Gainesville Springs is an absolute favorite for those in search of these lush oases. Starting from Orlando, this fabulous road trip will take you through verdant state parks, hiking trails so lush you’ll feel as though you’re in the Amazon rainforest and crystal clear springs that come in shades of aqua blues and emerald greens.

Your first stop is Blue Springs State Park, where you’ll find one of Florida’s most quintessential natural springs that will let you kayak your way through the water in search of manatees!

moss and swamp at Blue Springs State Park Florida
Blue Springs State Park

Next, head to Devil’s Millhopper State Park, an amazing site with an extraordinary 120-feet sinkhole that contains a miniature rainforest that will make you feel as though you’re walking straight into a Jurassic Park Scene. If you’re into hiking, make sure to stop by at the nearby Paynes Prairie State Park, where you’ll find trails boasting fabulous views of wild-roaming bison and horses.

Devil's Millhopper State Park Florida
Devil’s Millhopper State Park

The following few days will be spent ticking off as many springs as possible. Base yourself in the town of Alachua and use it as a starting point to drive to some of the most idyllic springs in northern Florida, including Ginnie Springs, Rum Island Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, and O’Leno State Park.

4) Florida Keys (Miami to Key West)

Miami to Key West is more than just a scenic drive – it’s a right of passage! This 113-mile road will bring you from the glitz of Miami down to the natural wonders that are the Florida Keys, passing through unobstructed views of breathtaking beaches. 

As far as Florida scenic drives, the Overseas Highway going south takes the cake and the reason for that is the 40 bridges that allow you to actually drive from the mainland to the islands, making this a truly unforgettable experience!

Blue water surrounding Florida Keys
Florida Keys

This is a three-and-a-half-hour drive if you go at it all in one sprint, but we recommend taking it easy, camera in hand, and making a few stops to truly enjoy the ride. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Bahia Honda State Park, two of the parks in the Florida Keys,  are good places to stop, and you will find plenty of restaurants and bars along the way! Once you make it to Key West, there are a myriad of options. With such a big area to cover, we recommend taking a hop-on-hop-off old town trolley tour of the city. This will let you see all the sites in a short period and will give you the added bonus of enjoying live narration to give you awesome local insights!

pastel colored homes in Key West Florida
Key West

5) Into the Florida Everglades Tamiami Trail and Loop Drive

Although there are faster ways to get to the Everglades, we recommend the Tamiami Trail, as you can see all its natural wonders. As one of the best national parks in Florida, the natural beauty is what makes Everglades so special!

This Florida scenic drive boasts several worthy stops on the way. Some of these include the world’s smallest post office, Clyde Butcher’s gallery, and several picnic areas and boardwalks. One of the most enjoyable activities while going through Everglades National Park is taking a guided airboat tour. This Everglades Airboat tour with a wildlife show will let you see all that the park has to offer as just a short detour from your drive.

Florida Everglades National Park with airboat
Everglades National Park

In addition, you can also drive Loop Road, a 24-mile long road that is part of the Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge. This road is full of wildlife all year long, including alligators (of course!), otters, deer and even the rare Florida panther.

Although Loop Road is not fully paved, it is worth worth it to see interesting sites, like Pinecrest, a seemingly ghostly town that still houses a few inhabitants.

6) Ormond Scenic Loop

For those in Florida’s Daytona region, the Ormond Scenic Loop is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. This scenic road includes spectacular ocean vistas as well as live oaks and Spanish moss forming a cathedral-like ceiling!

Ormond Scenic Loop Florida with trees and plams surrounding the road
Ormond Scenic Loop

The area has state parks aplenty, as well as interesting historic sites and stunning landscapes every mile of the way. A must-see park is the North Peninsula State Park. Here, you can spend the day swimming, fishing, birdwatching and even spotting migrating whales if you visit during the winter. We recommend this Guided Kayaking or Standup Paddleboarding tour from Daytona Beach, where you can dolphins playing, paddle along the Halifax River, and spot leatherback sea turtles!

Another stop you can’t miss out on this scenic drive is Burlow Creek State Park, which contains one of the largest oak forests on Florida’s East coast, You can also enjo hiking trails with white-tailed deer, barred owls, and more!

Ocala National Forest

If you want to get lost in the forest, the Ocala National Forest is the place to do it! There are many different logging roads that will take you deep into the forest, beyond there most visitors go. You’ll be surrounded by incredible greenery and, if you’re lucky, might even come across a bear.

Just keep in mind that these roads aren’t paved and can get a bit muddy, so a 4×4 is advised.

7) Big Bend Scenic Byway

A federally designated scenic byway, the Big Bend Scenic Byway runs along the Gulf Coast below Tallahassee. The 220-mile route is best split over 2 days, so you have time to see the attractions along the way. You’ll pass state parks, a wildlife refuge, lighthouses, and so many stunning beaches. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making more stops than anticipated!

Some of the most notable stops along the Big Bend Byway include Apalachicola National Forest, Ochlockonee River State Park, Tate’s Hell State Forest, St George Island State Park, St George Gorge, Carrabelle Beach, the Alligator Harbor Aquatic Preserve, and the Leon Sinks Geologic Area. 

two alligators at Alligator Harbor Aquatic Preserve
Alligator Harbor Aquatic Preserve

And that’s just to name a few!

Have you ever driven any of these beautiful scenic drives in Florida? Let us know all about your experience!