Florida has 26 officially designated Florida Scenic Highways, which though are scenic, also highlight Florida’s history, culture, archeology, natural resources and archeology.
From coast-to-coast, below are some can’t miss "roadside" attractions throughout the Sunshine State.
CRYSTAL RIVER: Citrus County’s scenic roads and miles of wide-open spaces are perfect for a fun Florida road trip. Motorcyclists and drivers alike will love the uncrowded roads through gorgeous parklands and coastal preserves. Spot wildlife, stop for some fresh seafood or visit diverse communities.
One of the most popular roads, the Ozello Trail, is also listed on maps as Route 494. The Ozello Trail winds through Crystal River Preserve State Park and ends at Ozello Community Park, right on the Gulf Coast. If you’re headed out on the trail, stop for a bite to eat at Peck’s Old Port Cove, which is known for fresh seafood and 360-degree views of the beautiful marshes. Backwater Fins is also conveniently located right on the trail and offers waterfront outdoor seating and Cajun-style cooking and fresh seafood. After hitting the trail, continue south U.S. Route 98 toward Homosassa Springs. When you reach Homosassa Springs, hop off and enjoy the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
For a longer ride, try extending your loop by continuing to Floral City and Inverness. Start with the shorter loop directions above, then when you exit Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, you can take Oak Park Boulevard (County Road 480) east until it turns into the Stagecoach Trail. This route circles 50,000 untouched acres, known as the Citrus Wildlife Management Area, and part of the larger Withlacoochee State Forest. Stop off in the park for some hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing, then continue on County Road 480 until it hits US-41 just south of Floral City.
AMELIA ISLAND: When you’re packing for a road trip to Amelia Island, don’t forget binoculars, a kayak, paddle board, bike and notecards. Upon arrival, you’ll quickly learn there’s a rare ecosystem – and history – to uncover along this northeast Florida island’s 13 miles of coastline.
Visitors can enjoy daily tours at Fort Clinch State Park, with period reenactors depicting garrison life bring the fort to life for visitors. Sunbathing, swimming and beachcombing are popular activities at the beach. Anglers can take advantage of excellent surf fishing. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy a six-mile trail through the park. Self-guided nature trails provide opportunities to learn about and observe native plants and wildlife. A full-facility campground and a youth camping area provide overnight accommodations,located north of the city of Fernandina Beach off State Road A1A. The park is home to two RV campgrounds – Amelia River Campground and Atlantic Beach Campground – both with great views, amenities and access.
Hop on board the popular Cumberland Island tour with Amelia River Cruises. This daily tour offers an extensive and rich history of Amelia Island and neighboring Cumberland Island with views of wildlife along the way. During the tour, you’ll cruise by Fernandina’s shrimp boats, pass historic Old Town and Fort Clinch, to the wild horses of Cumberland Island. Along the way, local captains/historians share some of the colorful stories that define the character of this unique part of the world.
COLUMBIA COUNTY: Known as the “Springs Capital of the United States,'' Columbia County is centrally located for visitors driving to or from larger cities such as Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa. Located on the southern border of Georgia and bisected by Interstate 75 and Interstate 10, the Columbia County’s enchantingly diverse ecosystem makes it a natural theme park for outdoor adventure and spring hopping, with over 350 miles of rivers, 1,500 miles of trails, aquatic caves, nine state parks, waterfalls and 300 documented natural springs. The crown jewel of Columbia County is Ichetucknee Springs State Park, where eight major crystal-clear springs join to create the six-mile Ichetucknee River, a wholesome playground for swimming, tubing, paddling, scuba diving, birdwatching, picnicking or relaxing on the river. The county is a must-stop and unforgettable destination for any road trip!
ADVENTURE COAST: No trip to Florida’s Adventure Coast would be complete without a trip to one of the most iconic attractions in Florida. Home to the world-famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has something for all ages. Weeki Wachee is an enchanted spring where you can see live mermaids, take a trip on a river boat cruise, learn about Florida wildlife and swim in the pristine waters at Buccaneer Bay.
Florida’s Adventure Coast’s newest attraction is Lead Foot City. A short drive north of Tampa, Lead Foot City is the destination for all-things automotive. Thrilling car enthusiasts with monthly super swaps and car shows, a burn-out pad, drift carts and more, Lead Foot City is is the site for outdoor special events featuring vendors, demonstrations, classic cars and top-rated entertainment, all with an automotive theme.
NJoy Spirits Distillery is a family-operated Florida craft spirits distiller in the heart of Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee. Located deep within the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Preserve on an 80-acre farm, they grow their own Sugar Cane for their award-winning Mermaid Rum and Rye Grain for the award-winning Wild Buck Whiskey. In addition to crafting their spirits, Njoy Spirits offers an event venue for those looking to marry or celebrate in one of the most beautiful spots on Florida’s Adventure Coast.
JACKSONVILLE: Whether you’re heading north or south through the great peninsula of Florida, make sure that Jacksonville is on your must-see list for its abundance of roadside stops and attractions. With many of these attractions being right off of Jacksonville’s major highways, it is easy to plan these unique stops for your next road trip. Memorial Park is a six acre area of open space, perfect for a stop to stretch your legs. Memorial Park is known as “one of Jacksonville’s best-loved treasures,” and is enjoyed by members of the community. With an ideal location less than 10 minutes from the highway I-95 and multiple restaurants within walking distance, there’s no place in Florida quite like Memorial Park.
Some of nature's top predators are in Jacksonville’s Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, located on the northside and 10 minutes from highway I-95. At the sanctuary, visitors can view and learn about endangered big-cat species such as tigers, lions, pumas and leopards. This non-profit prides itself on providing animals with a safe and loving environment after rescuing them from serious and potentially dangerous situations.
TALLAHASSEE: The Bradfordville Blues Club is Florida's first-listed site on the Mississippi Blues Trail. The experience is like no other, as it combines a truly unique location and atmosphere with the best the Blues has to offer. The club is a historic, one-room cinder block "juke joint" showcasing an impressive list of nationally renowned Blues acts. The BBC, as locals call it, features a different artist every Friday and Saturday evening, while Miss Ernestine fries up catfish for music-goers around the bonfire.
Bradley’s Country Store is a family-owned store not to be missed. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the store has operated at the same location since 1927, and is famous for its homemade sausage and country milled grits, both of which are still made on-site.
Lofty Pursuits opened in 1993 and is another favourite. Initially opened as a small skill toy store, it’s grown into an eclectic mix of toy and game store, meets soda fountain and homemade ice cream and candy shop. Browse the collection of oddities on the shelves, have brunch and watch the fascinating action of Victorian candy making.
DAYTONA BEACH: Daytona International Speedway, one of America’s most prestigious racetracks, hosts iconic events throughout the year, such as the DAYTONA 500, the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the DAYTONA Supercross or the summer’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. The facility also offers daily track tours as well as a two and a half hour VIP tour. Both tours take guests behind the scenes where they can discover what makes Daytona International Speedway the “World Center of Racing. “Following the tour, guests can view the winning DAYTONA 500 car and tour the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, which showcases spectacular displays honoring all forms of motorsports: stock cars, sports cars, open-wheel, motorcycles, drag racing, land speed records, powerboating and aviation.
If visitors are looking for a high-speed experience of Daytona International Speedway, they can try their hand at the NASCAR Racing Experience on select dates of the year. Guests will strap into a stock car for a drive or ride experience around the track. The Speedway has a cool new neighbor: ONE DAYTONA. With a short walk across the pedestrian bridge or a drive across the boulevard, guests can step into a million square feet of world-class shops, restaurants and hotel accommodations.
SEBRING: You may know Sebring for its half day race every year in March, but throughout the summer months, the area may be just the perfect pit stop. Just 60 miles south of Orlando, the cities of Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid are home to a variety of activities, whether you have a need for speed or would rather take it slow.
The city’s most popular park, Highlands Hammock State Park, attracts visitors with its beautiful old-growth hammock and thousand-year-old oaks. It’s also one of the oldest parks and one of the highest-ranking parks for endemic, or native, biodiversity in Florida. Ride around the park to see birds, alligators, turtles and deer close up. You might even get lucky and spot a Florida black panther or black bear treading softly through the forest during your ride.
The town coins itself as the “Caladium Capital of the World,” with 98 percent of the world’s caladium bulbs coming from the area. The fields in Lake Placid harvest and ship the plants all over the U.S. and outside the country to South Africa, Turkey, Pakistan and Europe. From June until the end of October, you can catch the caladiums in full bloom and enjoy them in their full splendor. You can even attend the Caladium Festival held every July and tour several family farms with 1,500 acres of fields, which have been compared to the tulip fields in Holland.
OCALA/MARION COUNTY: Road trips are all about iconic experiences and what better choice is there than Florida’s very first tourist attraction: Silver Springs State Park? Silver Springs State Park is home to many Hollywood movies and offers kayak and canoe rentals. Whilethere, travellers can also embark on their world-famous Glass-Bottom Boats, where you can gaze into the clear waters to see fish, turtles, manatees and more. There are easy hiking trails and lots of fun photo spots throughout the park to remember your day.
Another perfect addition to your Florida road trip is cruising through horse country, since Ocala/Marion County is famous as the “Horse Capital of the World®.” While in destination or passing through, it’s highly recommended to take a tour of one of the many local horse farms. Take the long way to gaze over acres of rolling green hills and enjoy the regal beauty of the horses.
Florida Black Bear National Scenic Byway State Road 40 turns into the Florida Black Bear National Scenic Byway once you enter the Ocala National Forest. The drive alone is worth the trip. Right off State Road 40, travellers can walk breathtaking trails or kayak the famous Juniper Run at Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Drive a little further down State Road 40 and turn north onto State Road 19 (still part of the National Scenic Byway) to splash around in Silver Glen Springs or continue north to Salt Springs. Enjoy hiking, swimming, boating, trail riding and more in any of the three springs’ recreation areas in the Ocala National Forest.
KISSIMMEE: Anyone embarking on a road trip and looking for quirky road-side attractions should include Kissimmee, specifically the Monument of States. One of Kissimmee's most recognizable landmarks, it was championed by Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis, a retired doctor and president of the Kissimmee All-States Tourist Club, in 1941. In the wake of the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Bressler-Pettis began requesting items from around the U.S. to create a symbol of solidarity.
Donations came in, and many governors, a prime minister and even a U.S. President were among the contributors. Volunteers helped build and paint the monument and their efforts resulted in a 50-foot, 100,000 pound structure made of rocks, fossils and plaques. Alaska and Hawaii were eventually added to the monument, plus one last addition years later: some of the remains of Bressler-Pettis inside the monument. Additionally, carve out some time to explore Historic Downtown Kissimmee for shopping, dining, admiring the local art scene and taking in some Florida nature.
The Sunshine State offers visitors an assortment of unparalleled culinary options. To learn more and plan your next trip, visit www.VISITFLORIDA.com.
About VISIT FLORIDA
VISIT FLORIDA is the Sunshine State’s official tourism marketing corporation and travel planning resource for visitors across the globe. As Florida’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming over 137.4 million visitors in 2022, the highest number of visitors in the state’s history. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations, and visitor services programs, and works with travel industry partners throughout the state. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, follow @FloridaTourism on Facebook and Twitter, or go to visitflorida.org For inspiration in the Sunshine State, follow @VISITFLORIDA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.visitflorida.com. For media resources, visit www.visitfloridamedia.com.
About Vox International
VoX International is a Canadian-owned destination marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada with offices in Vancouver and Montreal, providing Canadian representation nationally. VoX is a full-service sale, marketing, event planning and public relations agency led by a team of high profile, knowledgeable travel industry executives. Recognized as a marketplace leader, VoX offers a wide range of support within the North American meeting, incentive, events, and hospitality and leisure tourism sectors. VoX’s passion for providing personal, innovative and results driven solutions are key factors for driving the company’s reputation for success.
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