Florida isn’t short of stunning scenery, but there are a few areas in the state that stand high above the crowds. Even though beachside goodness may be the first image that comes to mind when you think of the Sunshine State, you’d be surprised how much more it has to offer!
The best way to get close and personal with Florida? By driving all over the state, of course!
Regardless of the type of adventures you’re after, the state’s expansive network of roads is guaranteed to have something to please. From ocean views to forests and swamps, historical communities, and even a mountain or two, here are some of the most scenic drives in Florida you’ve got to place on your family travel bucket list.
A Note on When to Go Road Tripping in Florida!
Unlike most of the United States, Florida experiences a humid subtropical climate. This means that the weather is at its best over spring with ideal dry and sunny conditions – but also means it is at its busiest!
If you are seeking fewer crowds and mostly dry, sunny days then a winter vacation may be your top pick, from December to February (bearing in mind things are much busier over Christmas to New Year).
Despite the humidity, summer remains popular in Florida as families head to the beach and the natural springs for some relief from the heat. However, do be mindful of hurricane season from June to November. Tropical storms are most likely in August and September.
Whatever time of year you time your trip to Florida for, you’re in for a real treat!
1. Scenic Drives in Florida: A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway
- Distance: 72 miles
- Time needed: 2 hours to 2 days
As Florida’s most iconic drive, the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway is a non-negotiable in your Florida itinerary. Throughout the drive, you’ll get to pass through colorful beach towns, some of the best shores on the entire state, old Spanish forts dating back to the colonial era, as well as plenty of opportunities to enjoy recreational activities.
Even though this drive can easily be completed within a few hours, we actually recommend treating it as a road trip in order to fully get to know all the interesting places along the route.
Luckily, there are plenty of cities and towns dotting the road where you can overnight in, including Flager Town for quirky vibes, Ponte Vedra Beach for beach fun, and St. Augustine for some serious history lessons.
2. Scenic Drives in Florida: Gainesville Springs – Old Florida Heritage Highway
- Distance: 48 miles
- Time needed: A few hours to several days
Natural springs are one of Florida’s staples, and driving Gainesville Springs will give you the chance to see some of the best the entire state has to offer. This drive begins in Orlando and takes you through lush state parks where you’ll find hiking trails so green you’ll feel as though you’re walking inside the Amazonas!
A can’t miss stop is the Blue Springs State Park, which, as its name suggests, is home to some of Florida’s most striking springs. A highlight here is getting to kayak through the water amid manatees.
Devil’s Millhopper State Park is another must in your itinerary. Here, you’ll find an almost other-worldly looking 120-feet sinkhole that contains a mini rainforest at the bottom guaranteed to make you feel as though you’re inside the setting of a Jurassic Park film.
For a completely different landscape, head to Paynes Prairie State Park, where bison and wild horses roam around in. If you’re still up for more adventures, other spots worth visiting for springs galore include Ginnie Springs, Rum Island Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, and O’Leno State Park.
3. Scenic Drives in Florida: Miami to Key West – Florida Keys
- Distance: 166 miles
- Time needed: 3.5 hours (one way) but we’d allow for several stops along the different areas of the keys, 3 days to a week to fully appreciate everything on offer!
The Miami to Key West drive is more than just a highway – it’s almost like a right of passage! This extremely scenic drive will take you all the way from the city lights of Miami into the beautiful nature of the Florida Keys, all while bringing you closer to some of the best beaches in the entire state.
Even though the Keys are separated from the mainland, the best way to reach them is by taking the Overseas Highway south, which crosses a total of 40 bridges that connect the islands! It is undeniably one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
The road trip itself can take just under four hours if you don’t make any stops, but we recommend taking a few days to complete it in order to fully enjoy the scenery all over.
4. Scenic Drives in Florida: Into the Everglades Tamiami Trail and Loop Road
- Distance: 275 miles
- Time needed: 6 hours
Reaching Everglades from Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale via Alligator Alley (I-75) is a piece of cake and the way most visitors to this alluring national park usually take, but here’s a little secret: The Tamiami Trail (US-41) may be a tad longer, but it is guaranteed to give you a much more personal experience!
As you drive, you’ll get to see the world’s smallest post office, several boardwalks and picnic areas perfect for lunch, the Clyde Butcher’s Gallery for a photographic journey through Florida, and so much more.
Moreover, you can also add the nearby Loop Road into your itinerary, which is a 24-mile long unpaved road inside the Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge that provides wonderful opportunities to spot wildlife, including alligators, otters, deer, and even the rare Florida panther if you get extremely lucky.
The entire Tamami drive takes you all the way through to Tampa for a longer scenic drive through southern Florida. Do note, ongoing road works can affect this journey as extensive reconstruction work takes place as major sections of the freeway are being replaced with bridges. .
5. Scenic Drives in Florida: Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail
- Distance: 30 miles
- Time needed: 2 hours
If a mix of beach goodness and adventures in the forest is what you’re after, the Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail boasts the best of both worlds!
Even though the loop is just 30 miles long, you could easily spend several days on this drive, as there are endless stops worth making along the way both to relax by the sea as well as explore some of Florida’s inland gems.
Along the drive, you’ll be treated to views of the Atlantic, oak trees, marshes, rivers, barrier island dunes, and historical dwellings galore, not to mention you’ll also get the chance to explore some of the biggest gems in the Florida state parks system.
A must-do stop along this drive is the Gamble Rogers State Park, which stretches from the Atlantic to the Intracoastal with lots of outdoor recreational opportunities around, including hiking trails, canoeing, and kayaking.
Bulow Creek State Park is another gem where you’ll get the chance to explore the largest remaining southern live oak forest on the eastern coast of Florida (try finding Fairchild Oak, one of the oldest and largest oak trees in the south!)
Pro Tip: Sections of this road can be closed subject to flooring in the rainy season. Check conditions before setting out
6. Scenic Drives in Florida: Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway
- Distance: 128 miles
- Time needed: A few hours to drive but allow at least 2 days
Traversing some of the most pristine ecosystems in Florida, the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway is an excellent choice for those looking to explore the Sunshine State’s wilder side.
This gorgeous byway will have you driving through networks of smaller scenic roads between Silver Springs and Ordmond Beach, including SR 40 which cuts right through Ocala National Forest.
Although Ocala is considered the star of this byway, there’s a whole lot more to see on this drive’s menu, including several waterways perfect for kayaking, sand pine forests, and crystal-clear springs. The byway route includes two spurs and a loop, so expect a little bit of criss-crossing.
Moreover, you’ll also get the chance to stop and stretch your legs at a few of the best state parks in the state, including Lake George State Forest, Heart Island Conservation Area, Silver River State Park, and Tiger Bay State Forest.
If you are a nature-lover, this is one of the most highly recommended scenic drives in Florida.
7. Scenic Drives in Florida: Green Mountain Scenic Highway
- Distance: 45 miles
- Time needed: 2 hours to half a day
Mountains in Florida?! Even though the Sunshine State is known for being the nation’s flattest state, and although it isn’t a mountain per se, this region of the state is as hilly as it gets.
As you drive along this 45-mile drive in central Florida, you’ll get to stumble across some of the biggest historical landmarks in the state, quaint “mountain” towns, pastoral scenery, and scenic rolling hills galore, which makes this drive a treat for those who want a little bit of everything.
For gorgeous views of Lake Apopka, short hiking trails, and great birdwatching ops, make sure to stop at the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook. Moreover, two of Florida’s most charming historical towns mark this drive, Winter Garden and Mt. Dora, both of which provide tons of stories of the state’s past.
For all things nature and opportunities to stretch out your legs, Ferndale Preserve is guaranteed to please, with lots of hiking trails available as well as unparalleled views of the surrounding hills.
This central Florida scenic drive is also a dream come true for birdwatchers, with more than 360 species of birds roaming the area and nesting on the canopies that line the road.
8. Scenic Drives in Florida: Indian River Lagoon Scenic Byway
- Distance: 233 miles
- Time needed: Allow a full day with stops
Linking the Space Coast and the Treasure Coast, the Indian River Lagoon Scenic Byway provides a mix of nature, history, and a glimpse into the future through space exploration.
This byway passes through some of the most important natural areas in Florida, including the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Archie Carr Natural Wildlife Refuge, and the Canaveral National Seashore.
In contrast, the road’s proximity to important space-related sites such as the Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame provide drivers with the amazing opportunity to swim in search of manatees one second and see space rockets the next one!
Moreover, the communities that dot this drive are serious eye candy, especially for those looking for a blend of eclectic and historical goodness. A few stops worth stopping at include the towns of Melbourne, Cocoa, Fellsmere, and Sebastian.
We hope this list of the most scenic drives in Florida inspired you to grab your car keys and hit the road! Even though there are plenty more beautiful highways spread all over the state, these ones take the cake when it comes to unparalleled scenery and unbeatable opportunities to get close and personal with the Sunshine State.
More Tips for Driving in Florida
- State Parks fees vary by park for vehicle entry, overnight camping costs more and should be reserved in advance.
- If you will be road tripping Florida for an extended period, a Florida State Parks Annual Pass is a good option.
- Always check for road closures and traffic conditions before you set out, particularly in the wet season.
- Whilst Florida can make a great destination to visit year-round, do bear in mind Hurricane season which might impact on your travel plans, particularly late August to October.
- Extending your journey to the Deep South? Check out this guide for more scenic drives and road trip itinerary ideas in southern USA.
- Closer to Miami, make sure you check out our favorite Miami sunflower fields.
- For a (much!) longer drive, check out our New York to Florida itinerary – plenty of fun and interesting stops all the way from the Big Apple to Orlando.
- Never forget an important road trip item again! Download our essential family road trip checklist here.
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