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A perfect road trip route running along the eastern border of the state, Florida’s State Road A1A is famous for its range of scenic and captivating attractions along the way. Stretching some 600 miles and running next to some of Florida’s most popular beaches, road-trippers can soak in postcard-perfect views of the Sunshine State and make as many pit stops as they want to the various attractions dotted throughout the journey. Combined with Florida’s endless sunshine, travelers will find that a drive along this road is perfect for any time of year.
You can start down in the Florida Keys or begin the adventure in Amelia Island, then work your way towards South Florida, but these are the best highlights of a road trip along Florida’s State Road A1A.
Travelers who start their road trip at the northernmost point of A1A at Amelia Island will discover 13 miles of pristine sand and clear waters. This crown jewel has a lot to offer with outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, and surfing. It’s also one of the few places that allow horseback riding on the beach, a memorable experience, especially at sunset. Shop for antique treasures at the quaint historic downtown area, dine in delightful shops, explore a pre-Civil War fortress at Fort Clinch State Park or visit nearby Fernandina Beach, as the lush landscape of this untouched area is one of Florida’s small-town charms.
Next, head to Little Talbot Island State Park, a barrier island just off the Atlantic Coast. One of Florida’s most scenic state parks and underdeveloped barrier islands in the Northeast, it is nestled amongst the lush landscaping of a maritime hammock forest. The area boasts a beautiful trail for soaking in the scenery and spotting diverse wildlife, where miles of pristine beach and undisturbed salt marshes provide the perfect recharge for a day of adventure. Absorb your picturesque surroundings as you stroll past twisted, bleached skeletons of salt-washed live oaks, ancient dunes, cedar trees, and exotic birds.
A quiet beach area with gentle waters, Jacksonville Beach offers the perfect respite from hours on the road. A great place to sunbathe, water enthusiasts of all ages can try their hand at surfing at Jacksonville Beach, as the beach here provides calm enough waters for first-timers to ride a wave. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, as “The Poles” beach area is a popular spot to catch a glimpse of these beloved aquatic mammals. A nearby Hannah Park is another beloved beach spot, where visitors will find a 450-acre space with a water park, campsite, and freshwater lake where dogs are also welcome.
Less than an hour away, St. Augustine is a family-friendly city that appeals to history enthusiasts of all ages. Built in 1874, head to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to find interactive exhibits and artifacts from shipwrecks, or climb the 219 steps up the historic lighthouse for a stunning panoramic view of the city. If you still have time, don’t miss a chance to walk the walls of the colonial-era Castillo de San Marcos, watch a historical re-enactment at the Colonial Quarter and purchase souvenirs at quaint shops along the 450-year-old cobblestone streets.
If you time your road trip right, you can swing through Daytona during their famous Daytona 500, Bike Week, or any of the city’s other main events. Just as exciting, visitors can also come any time of year to explore this attraction to see where “The Great American Race” takes place. A captivating attraction for NASCAR enthusiasts, all types of thrill-seekers will enjoy a tour of where the stock drivers rev their engines and whip around the corners of this massive race track. With a buzz of action, color, and legends past, visitors can browse the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and even climb atop the podium for a memorable 1st place photo.
Made famous by eleven-time World Champion surfer Kelly Slater, Cocoa Beach is a popular Florida beach with locals from the Central Florida area. A low-key destination, visitors can head to the pier for some freshly caught cuisine, browse through the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop or try their hand at the local sport. With consistently calm waves, beginners and experienced alike enjoy catching waves here, while those who prefer to watch can get a bird’s eye view of the area at the pier, where beachgoers flock to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean views and its array of bars and restaurants.
Located in Melbourne, Sebastian Inlet State Park is the premier saltwater fishing spot on Florida’s east coast. A beautiful stretch of barrier island, nature enthusiasts will find this pit stop is perfect for recharging the batteries. Connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian River Lagoon, it is one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in the world. Spanning 1,000 acres, the area is ideal for a day of surfing, swimming, snorkeling, diving, and fishing. Canoeing and kayaking are popular on the river lagoon, in addition to a scenic mile-long trail that offers a peek at the local wildlife, while history buffs might appreciate the two nearby museums that highlight the area’s history dating back to 1715.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, McKee Botanical Garden is a short drive from Sebastian Inlet State Park in Vero Beach. A beautiful sub-tropical hammock spanning over 18 acres, you are spoiled for choice in breathtaking landscapes at this top Florida garden. An idyllic oasis for travelers who appreciate nature, this lush garden is home to over 10,000 native and tropical plants, where picturesque waterlilies, waterfalls and trees dot its perimeter. Browse through its world-class art exhibits, or simply soak in the pleasant aroma of the garden’s natural landscape and the sights and sounds of its tranquil streams.
Perfect for visitors looking for a dose of culture, Whitehall is the home of the Flagler Museum, a beautiful oasis that is worthy of a day trip. Built for his third wife as a wedding present, the famous oil tycoon Henry Flagler constructed this over-the-top 55-room Beaux Arts style complex in 1902. A National Historic Landmark, visitors can stroll through the grounds of this Palm Beach attraction to take in a variety of historic European styles and are welcome to browse the interior and see the building’s many original furnishings in addition to engaging exhibits, beautiful artwork, and antique furniture.
A top attraction for families in Florida, Lion Country Safari is located just 30 minutes away in Loxahatchee. Looking for something unique? Visitors won’t mind hopping off A1A for an excursion like this. Lion Country Safari is Florida’s only drive-through safari and walk-through amusement park. Truly an adventure like no other, animal lovers will be delighted to spend a day with over 900 animals. Here visitors will not only find animal displays but can participate in once-in-a-lifetime feeding experiences and unique animal encounters. The kids will love the attraction for its rides, water sprayground, while adults can join a personalized program with a guided walking tour and photo opportunities.
Famous for its array of fun, sun, and adventure, South Beach is a lively pit stop on any road trip itinerary. Stretch your legs and soak in the picturesque beach area, where people-watching is practically a hobby. Sunbathe on the pristine palm-lined beaches, dine with famous celebrities in sidewalk cafes, or shop til you drop at one of the numerous shopping destinations. Soak in the vibrant displays of Art Deco buildings mixed with buzzing neon lights, and make sure to explore Little Havana to fuel up and get a taste of authentic Cuban cuisine. If you want to indulge in the buzzing nightlife scene, stay at one of the glitzy hotels in South Beach.
More about the journey than the destination itself, driving over the Seven Mile Bridge is a bucket list item for many. Linking Marathon to the Lower Keys, the Seven Mile Bridge is possibly one of the most photographed spots in the Keys, if not the whole of Florida. Once the longest continuous concrete bridge in the world, the former bridge running parallel to the current one was once an engineering and architectural marvel. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a thrilling drive across with spectacular views of the water on either side.
End your trip with a photo finish at one of Florida’s most iconic landmarks, the Southernmost Point Buoy. Practically a requirement if you come to Key West, a selfie with this famous concrete marker is a keepsake of your road trip journey. Erected in 1983 by the city, it is where the colorful “90 miles to Cuba” saying is scrawled, reminding visitors that they are closer to Cuba than mainland Florida.