Driving Florida Highway A1A
Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.
– Charles Kuralt
Typically, the most scenic drives aren’t the fastest drives. And the fastest drives aren’t very scenic. Such is the case with Florida’s east coast. If you tell Google Maps (or your favorite map application) that you want to go from Daytona Beach, FL to Miami, FL, you’ll find yourself tearing down I-95 at 80mph missing much of what there is to see in Florida.
You can do a little better by clicking the “Avoid Highways” option, which will get you routed down US-1 most of the way, skirting the coast, but rarely actually on the coast. But going that way still dodges one of the most scenic drives in the nation down Florida Highway A1A (“A1A Beachfront Avenue!”…that was for all you Vanilla Ice fans).
We typically prefer to drive for an extra hour or two to really see the sights (and to give Edie a hundred opportunities to say “Wait, Scott, pull over! I want a picture of THAT!”). So over the course of two days of driving (not consecutive days), we traversed A1A from Ormond Beach all the way to Key West. In some places where bridges weren’t built over inlets, it’s the same road as US-1. But most of the time, it runs just east of US-1 right through the heart of all of Florida’s beach towns.
Along the way, we got a distant view of the Kennedy Space Center (you can actually see the shuttle launch pad on the left side of the 4th picture), goofed off in the waves on Palm Beach, drove for nearly 7 miles surrounded by nothing but water (the Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys), and took an 8-mile side trip on the Jungle Trail, a historic dirt road used by orange growers.
We were also able to really see the differences in the different beach towns down the coast, from Daytona’s more laid-back atmosphere to the enormous walled houses of Palm Beach to the beach bungalows of the Florida Keys. Here are a few pictures we took a long the way, but pictures can’t really do the scenery justice…add this drive to your bucket list.