There are many places you can drive in the sunshine state to get beautiful views that aren’t just on the beach. Below is East Coast Defender’s guide to some of the best places for a drive in your Land Rover Defender, or any other car or truck you love just as much!
- Big Bend Scenic Byway. On the Gulf side, you need to head to the Panhandle for the big views. The gem is the Big Bend Scenic Byway, 220 miles of scenery near Tallahassee.
- The Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys. This drive is unique in that it combines both ocean and gulf views. As you cross the many bridges on the highway, you can gaze out and be dazzled in all directions.
- Stuart Indian River Lagoon to Fort Pierce. The long, wide lagoon leaves a sliver of land for hundreds of miles along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Naturally, we are drawn to the beach and scenic A1A. But the other side of the Indian River Lagoon is worth exploring too.
- Florida on the Cracker Trail. This is Florida cow country, stretching from Fort Pierce to Bradenton. There are moss-draped oak trees, a “ghost town” (just a historic marker and a boarded-up mansion on the Kissimmee River), a funky Southern-style vineyard and the beautiful Highland Hammock State Park.
- Everglades Tamiami Trail. You can drive to the Gulf Coast on Alligator Alley and get there faster, but the Tamiami Trail gets you closer to the Everglades and there are several worthwhile stops along the way. From Broward or Palm Beach, you can even do this as a day trip with a return via Alligator Alley.
- Everglades Loop Road. This can be done in conjunction with the Tamiami Trail, but because of the rustic nature of the road, it takes several hours. Loop Road is a 24-mile-long two-lane road that parallels Tamiami Trail through the Everglades. The eastern seven miles are paved and after that, it’s gravel or dirt. In the summer, parts of the road can be under water. All year, the place teems with wildlife – alligators, birds, otters, deer, even the rarely seen Florida panther. It’s part of the Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge.
- Ormond Scenic Loop. One of the most beautiful stretches of road anywhere in Florida is north of Daytona Beach in an area rich with parks, historic sites and natural beauty. The Ormond Scenic Loop includes spectacular ocean views as well as sections where the live oaks and Spanish moss form a cathedral ceiling. A little further north, 45 miles of interconnected roads wind through countryside just south of Gainesville, past great stops like Micanopy, Paynes Prairie State Park and Cross Creek. It’s called the Old Florida Heritage Highway.
- Daytona Beach to Kennedy Space Center. While we focused on giving you examples of places to go other than beaches for a drive in this list, who can pass up a Saturday by being able to drive down beautiful Daytona Beach then getting out of the car to visit NASA just over an hour away? Tickets are normally $50 for a day, but be sure to plan your trip in advance and visit their social media page for occasional discount days!