The 10 Most Scenic Coastal Drives in Florida
In my experience, these are the 10 most scenic coastal drives in Florida. If you like water and nature, these 10 drives are for you.
COASTAL DRIVES DEFINED
I define “coastal drives” as long stretches of road where you can see lots of open ocean, estuaries or bays. Coastal drives tend to include an unspoiled, natural components, and they often also include lots of tropical foliage. Finally, they don’t have to be long roads, although most are. Some roads can be traveled in minutes and others in hours or days.
#1 OVERSEAS HIGHWAY, THE FLORIDA KEYS
There’s no better scenic coast drive in Florida than the Overseas Highway (U.S. 1 from Key Largo to Key West). This 113-mile stretch of highway is both a natural and engineering marvel. From the time you cross Jewfish Creek the excitement builds. The majority of this road provides unobstructed views of bright blue, tropical water and it’s the only road in Florida where you can view both the Atlantic Ocean and The Gulf of Mexico from the same spot.
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#2 BIG BEND SCENIC BYWAY COASTAL TRAIL
This section of the Big Bend Scenic Byway is approximately 100 miles long and traverses beautiful, unspoiled habitat. Along this route, you’ll visit St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, the historic St. Marks Lighthouse as well as St. George Island and Apalachicola. There are tons of things to do and I would recommend setting aside a couple of days if you want to travel this amazing stretch of road.
#3 ORMOND BEACH SCENIC LOOP TRAIL
This amazing coastal drive traverses incredible, “Old Florida” scenery consisting of coastal rivers, creeks and marshes, ocean views and beautiful oak tree canopies. In addition, you’ll travel through three state parks, numerous local parks, and have the opportunity to visit some historical sites. The Ormond Beach Scenic Loop Trail is definitely worthy of a visit.
#4 30A, WALTON COUNTY
This scenic coastal drive is one of the most enjoyable in Florida. In fact, it’s also an oasis for awesome coastal communities and architecture. This 29-mile stretch of road stretches from Rosemary Beach to Topsail Hill State Park and encompasses amazing beach towns like Seaside, Seagrove and Alys Beach. With an endless number of beautiful beaches and things to do, 30A is one 29-mile stretch of road that you’ll want days to explore.
#5 A1A NORTH OF JACKSONVILLE, (A1A Ocean Islands Trail)
Also called the “Ocean Islands Trail“, this is one of the most scenic coastal drives in Florida exists from Jacksonville to Fernandina Beach. Heading north, you can begin this drive from Heckscher Drive, north of the St. John’s River or access it via the Mayport Ferry using A1A. This road winds through coastal preserves and low country that’s reminiscent of South Carolina, intersects beautiful, Amelia Island and finishes in Fernandina Beach. My favorite section is from Little Talbot Island to Amelia Island.
#6 OCEAN DRIVE/A1A, PALM BEACH COUNTY
One of my favorite drives since I was a teenager is the drive through Palm Beach on S. Ocean Drive/A1A. The palm tree lined road is loaded with tropical eye-candy. The western side consists of huge mansions and glimpses of Lake Worth and its’ mega yachts. The eastern side is all about the turquoise, Atlantic Ocean for as far as you can see. It’s truly an amazing drive and takes you from Palm Beach to Deerfield Beach.
#7 OZELLO TRAIL, CRYSTAL RIVER
This amazing stretch of coastal road was a complete surprise to me when I visited it during one of my family trips to Crystal River. The nine-mile road meanders through some of the most unspoiled, “Old Florida”, scenery that I’ve seen and is very similar to many parts of the original Tamiami Trail through The Everglades. The reward for traveling the Ozello Trail is a great lunch or dinner at Peck’s Old Port Cove restaurant (which is one of the main reasons people travel it to begin with). If you’re in the Crystal River area, experiencing this scenic coastal road should be high on your list.
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#8 PONTE VEDRA TO FLAGLER BEACH, NORTHEAST FLORIDA
Another beautiful and scenic coastal drive is the drive from Ponte Vedra Beach to Flagler Beach on A1A. Also called the “A1A Coastal & Historic Byway“, this fantastic stretch of road has spectacular ocean views, inlet views and estuary views. You’ll even drive through historic St. Augustine and catch a glimpse of historic Fort Matanzas along the way.
#9 INDIAN RIVER DR., FT. PIERCE TO STUART
I stumbled upon this drive when I drove from Ft. Pierce to Stuart. If you have the time, I suggest taking this beautiful road that parallels the western shoreline of the Indian River. The road is surprisingly high above the water and offers beautiful, expansive views of the Indian River the entire way.
#10 CASEY KEY, SARASOTA COUNTY
This eight-mile stretch of coastal road is one of the most beautiful on the west coast of Florida. Casey Key is a private island located in southern Sarasota County and offers an amazing, tropical view of both the bay and Gulf of Mexico in sections. The road is winding and narrow so take it slow, roll the windows down and take it all in.
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Despite only listing 10 coastal drives, Florida has so many more! Other’s that are great but didn’t make the top ten are The Sunshine Skyway in St. Pete, The Boca Grande Causeway/Gasparilla Road, Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat Key, A1A in Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale Beach, and the drive through Sanibel and Captiva.
I hope you found this list helpful and make sure to visit these places if you’re in search of the most scenic coastal drives in Florida.
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