Whether you’re longing to drive the Emerald Coast, the Treasure Coast, the Space Coast, or something in between, Florida’s the place for you. Gorgeous scenic drives abound, doused in golden sunshine.
If you’ve ever wondered about road trip ideas in the “Orange State,” we’ve got the guide you need to make the most of Florida scenic drives. Whether you prefer to call it the “Everglade state,” “the Flower state,” or the “Alligator state,” we guarantee you’ll never run out of exhilarating experiences on the peninsula.
But where to start when it comes to finding your ideal route? From Florida day trips to extended road trips, here’s what you need to know to plan a successful getaway.
Florida’s Emerald Coast encompasses 200 miles of pristine white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. The Caribbean has nothing on this gorgeous stretch of real estate, and the Southern hospitality and sweet tea prove free-flowing.
The area features some of the world’s best fishing, particularly from Okaloosa Island to Miracle Strip Parkway. Smackdab in the middle, you’ll find the picturesque oceanside town of Destin, known as the “luckiest fishing village in the world.”
If you’re inclined towards fishing, bring a rod and gear. Or, consider shelling out for a day on a charter boat.
To do the drive justice, start in Pensacola, tracing your way along the scenic route. You’ll savor one of the best road trips in Florida, jampacked with stunning seaside views.
Set aside time in Panama City Beach for the main attraction, Shell Island, located in St. Andrews State Park. At St. Andrews Bay, book a cruise to see the largest population of bottle-nose dolphins in the world. And don’t forget about the Destin History and Fishing Museum, rich in regional history.
From the hardwood hammocks to the pine savannas and miles of untamed natural beaches, you’ll fall in love with the Panhandle. Because the Emerald Coast can get very busy during the summer, use the beach parking app to make sure you always find a spot to plant your wheels.
For adventurers who wish to see the “Alligator state” at its most rugged, give the drive between Orlando and Gainesville a try. You’ll drive through the state’s most secluded parks.
Depart from Orlando, exploring some of Florida’s best-kept secrets, including pristine springs, along the way. Dedicate seven to ten days to driving the full length (500 to 550 miles). Pass through Blue Springs State Park, Gainesville, Alachua or High Springs, and more along the way.
Explore Gainesville, known for its diverse restaurants and an active nightlife. Then, make your base Alachua, the perfect launching off point to visit:
● Ginnie Springs
● Ichetucknee Springs
● Gilchrist Blue Springs
● Rum Island Springs
● O’Leno State Park
Savor excellent Downhome eats and local breweries as you wind your way through verdant forests. Don’t forget to make time to take in a show at the famous Hippodrome Theater.
For optimal year-round travel, give the stretch along the Treasure Coast, from Vero Beach to Sebring, a try. You’ll pass through areas of abundant wildlife and lush scenery.
Sebring comes steeped in NASCAR history as the home of the Sebring International Raceway. The city sits nestled among cow pastures, idyllic landscapes, and vibrant citrus groves.
Despite the pastoral setting, you’ll find many tasty dining options, from gourmet burger joints to French bistros. What’s more, the city’s proximity to more than 100 freshwater lakes and waterways makes it a popular spot for nature lovers and anglers alike.
If you’re looking for an easy drive that yields plenty of dividends, then you’ll love the 56-mile route from Cedar Key to Crystal River and Homosassa Springs. In Cedar Springs, you’ll find a wholesome slice of Old Florida that’s fast disappearing.
There’s no better place to discover off-the-beaten-path historic sites and eclectic boutiques and antique shops. It’s also a fantastic spot to catch an unforgettable sunset.
Besides the quaint atmosphere, you’ll find some of the best seafood and clams in the state. It doesn’t get any fresher!
If you drive from the Florida-Georgia line south, you’ll enjoy scenic views of Jacksonville to St. Augustine. Along the way, savor stops in Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island. Amelia Island is a barrier island located off the coastline of Florida.
Delicious restaurants abound along the way, so make sure you bring a hearty appetite to this adventure. Take A1A down Amelia Island, following Northern Florida’s spectacular coastline. Beaches you’ll see include Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville, and Ponte Verde.
You’ll also have the chance to explore the oldest city in America, St. Augustine. A must-see attraction is the Old City District, you’ll find iconic buildings like the Castillo de San Marcos and St. Augustine Lighthouse.
If you’re looking for a genuinely unique road trip in the “Sunshine State,” consider driving the Space Coast. Visit iconic places like Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Merritt Island. One of the highlights of the trip is the Canaveral National Seashore, a pristine stretch of coastline.
There’s also the six-mile-long Apollo Beach, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities for surfing, swimming, and fishing. If you’re in the area in June or July, keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles.
At Merritt Island, stop at the US Astronaut Hall of Fame and the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Head to the Indian River to watch manatees. Or take a hike in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, enjoying glimpses of its unique ecosystems.
Explore the incredible Florida Everglades on a trip down the Paradise Coast from Naples to Marco Island and beyond. Marco Island is the largest island in the Ten Thousand Islands and provides the perfect admixture of natural beauty and a luxurious resort.
As you continue to head south, you’ll marvel at the beauty of the Everglades. A recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the only subtropical wilderness in the United States. Activities abound, from bird watching to hiking, kayaking to pole boat tours.
There’s no end to adventure on a Florida road trip. Whether you explore the gorgeous beaches of the Emerald Coast or choose a NASA-themed Space Coast adventure, it’s time to decide where Florida road trips will take you this year.
Are you interested in more travel hacks to make your next road trip fantastic? Browse our blog now for helpful vehicle tips and tricks.