Six Great Back Road Drives

December 2020

By Gary McKechnie

I’ve just completed a 3,000-mile-plus road trip in Florida. While drifting along on the open road, I often had the feeling that is similar to what a runner feels when they’re not really aware they’re running: a “flow experience,” they say.

A good road trip in Florida is one of the most wonderful things you can do because it satisfies so many needs. Every moment you are out of the routine, you are discovering something new. Whether it’s an old home on the side of the road, a diner you never knew existed, an orange grove that is perfumed by blossoms, a natural attraction, or a well-timed sunset, when you’re on the road you are really alive.

I’m sure you have some favorites of your own. On my Q&A page — which is usually seen by new visitors but not locals, which is why I’m sharing it here — I point out a few of my favorites:

  • Try out Route 399 southeast of downtown Pensacola, which is a 15-mile seaside drive along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
  • I love Highway 98 that hugs the Gulf Coast past Fort Walton Beach and Destin before Highway 30A. It follows the water all the way to Panama City Beach.
  • Interstate 10 is a big road, and it took the traffic from lovely Highway 90, leaving it free and clear as you discover the quiet towns and hills of Western Florida.
  • Few places on earth rival the beauty of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, and few roads are as dependable as A1A between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. It’s low and level and with lovely views of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • North of Eustis, Highway 19 kicks off a run through the Ocala National Forest to take you to its natural springs and hiking trails.
  • South of Haines City, Road 27 is a great road to take when you’re heading south. It slips past wonderful small towns like Lake Placid and by Sebring and Lake Wales — true Old Florida towns.

Even when gas is expensive, you should spend the time and money to make the best road trip in Florida that you can. It’s an investment that will more than repay you.