Start the engine. Pull back the sunroof. Throw on the shades. Because if you like Palm Beach County’s scenic drives, you will love Florida’s backroads. And you should experience at least one before the summer ends.
Remember: Road-tripping is less about the destination and more about the journey. This is why Visit Florida’s list of backroads is on point. No shortcuts, no highways.
Some quick tips before getting into the list:
- Follow an actual map. Like a paper one. I know, it sounds crazy, but better safe (with a map bought at a gas station) than lost (with a smartphone that can’t communicate because no cell towers).
- Snacks are major key. Get them. Lots of them. Here’s a quick list of 9 of my favorite healthy snacks. Because let’s be honest: A road trip with only sugary snacks means the sugar lows hit ya hard. You don’t want to miss all the good stuff.
- Learn the words to your playlist. Do it before you think you can sing your little heart out. Or risk being exposed on social media like this guy below:
Now you’re ready. Roll down the windows, feel the sun on your cheeks and place your bare feet on the dashboard. We’re going on for a ride.
PALM BEACH TO WELLINGTON TO LAKE OKEECHOBEE
Let’s start off from Palm Beach. Drive south along the Atlantic on Ocean Boulevard until you get to the Clock Tower. This is an Instagram-worthy stop that’s close to several others.
Continue south until you get to Southern Boulevard. Swing a right — that is, drive west. You’ll love all the open spaces as you near Wellington. Watch for horses and horse-loving people because they’re everywhere.
Stay on Southern. It eventually turns into US 441 South. Cruise all the way to Belle Glade Road. You’re headed toward Lake Okeechobee at this point, so stay on Belle Glade Road until you get there. Now, drive around that bad boy. You’ll come across railroad tracks, a few spots to stop, reflect or laugh and play. Naturally, you’ll take pictures of the water, and you might even find some gators. See the road trip these guys did around the lake:
PENSACOLA TO PANAMA CITY BEACH
South of historic downtown Pensacola, take the furthest road out to the ocean from the city, State Road 399. This is a 15-mile journey through the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It’s basically a white sand dessert with gorgeous beaches and a road. You’ll feel as free as a bird. Get on Highway 98 through Fort Walton Beach and Destin.
Want to camp? Everyone raves about Fort Pickens Campground.
Spin down to Highway 30A to find sanctuary at Grayton Beach State Park. Are you getting antsy? Just a few more minutes until you get to relax and sink in your toes at Panama City Beach.
ST. AUGUSTINE TO DAYTONA BEACH
While this road trip isn’t that long — at only about 50 miles — it’s an easy drive with plenty to see. Take A1A Southbound along the ocean and pullover at historic sites like Fort Matanzas and Marineland Dolphin Adventure.
Stop at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park and witness one of the largest outcroppings of coquina rock in the Atlantic Ocean. The boulder-strewn beach is photo-shoot heaven. One last stop: Flagler Beach Pier before rolling on to Ormond Beach. Voila!
TALLAHASSEE TO DEFUNIAK SPRINGS
Sure, you could take I-10 East and get there in less than 2 hours, but this isn’t an efficient list of trips. It’s a scenic one. Parallel to the Interstate, on the north side is rural Highway 90. Feel the South’s charm while driving through farms, forests and open land. The curving road takes you through small southern towns, each with ‘mom and pop’ shops and restaurants.
ARCADIA TO OKEECHOBEE TO SANIBEL-CAPTIVA
You better have unlimited data because your Spotify playlist will go on for hours. Don’t believe me? This backroad road tip is more than 200 miles. Discover historic Florida towns such as Pahokee, Belle Glade and Clewiston. Expect lonely roads, old architecture and quietness. Listen to music, clear your mind and keep driving. Head to the west side of the lake to catch the sunset from the isles of Sanibel and Captiva.
DAYTONA BEACH TO MOUNT DORA
Start at the Atlantic Ocean by Daytona Beach and head west to clear waters. Yup, in the heart of Central Florida you’ll find the most stunning Natural Springs. Get on Highway 40 and explore the towns of Barberville and Astor. See the St. Johns River and lookout for manatees.
Veer off on CR 445 past natural Florida pines until you reach Alexander Springs.
Don’t be afraid to explore the many springs at Ocala National Forest before you head to charming, hidden town of Mount Dora. Oh, and if you get hungry after leaving the woods, keep your eyes peeled for Mason Jar, a restaurant known for its sizeable portions of good ol’, down-home cookin’.
MIAMI TO KEY WEST
Take this interesting back road through the mangroves from Miami Beach to the Florida Keys. You’ve probably never heard of County Road 905. That’s because it veers away from the highway and onto its own path. You’ll start inland, and the go over the ocean and onto Key Largo Hammock State Botanical Site.
After you’ve explore it, drive south until Key Largo reconnects with U.S. 1. You can’t be around this much water and not have a desire to dive right in. Snorkeling, anyone? John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the place for you. Feeling like going to the southernmost point in the continental USA? Drive all the way south to Key West and find the sign— it’s only 90 miles from Cuba.