There are hundreds of miles of Floridian fun to be had on a road trip to Key West from Amelia Island on the Georgia/Florida border. There really is an endless amount of stuff to do along this route, and what attractions you hit up will depend upon what your road trip goal is. Are you on a family road trip? A girls-only getaway? A bro-cation? Or are you traveling solo across the East Coast of Florida? From beautiful beaches to historic lighthouses and even a secret presidential bunker, you can see it all on a trip down the A1A. These are some must-see stops from Georgia to Key West!
Fernandina Beach, Florida, United States
First Stop: The beach of course! Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is located at the very north-eastern tip of Florida. The beach features 13 miles of clear water, wildlife, and relaxation. Amelia Island itself is worth a visit as well; it's incredibly charming, home to loads of bed and breakfasts, historic places, and spas and shops. Also, every year there's the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival!
1368 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL, US
After Ameila Island head south to Jacksonville Beach. Jacksonville is a super long beach that has fishing piers, volleyball, and lots of boating, and you can even see dolphins here. On the weekends Jacksonville Beach can get pretty packed. Parking's usually easy to find, though, if you get there early. There are lots of restaurants and places to get a cocktail right on the beach, which is always awesome, as well.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, United States
Drive down the coast a little ways and you'll hit Ponte Vedra Beach. If you're a golfer, this is your paradise. The beach is also absolutely stunning, with 40-foot tall sand dunes, some of the highest dunes in Florida.
4 Saint George St, Unit 101, St. Augustine, FL, US
When you're ready to tuck in, the St. Augustine's St. George Inn is perfect. It's right in Old Town, and the street is pedestrian-only, so be prepared for that. There's free wifi, and you can upgrade to a suite with a private bathroom (some are shared). There's also a free continental breakfast included.
100 Red Cox Dr, St. Augustine, FL, US
While in town, visit the picturesque St. Augustine Lighthouse. It showcases incredible views of the Atlantic, and with its classic black-and-white paint scheme, it's perfect for honing your photography skills.
105G Oceanshore Boulevard, Flagler Beach, FL, US
Make your next stop Flagler Beach. If you've got a sweet tooth, you'll love Sally’s Ice Cream. They've been serving delicious cold refreshment to locals and visitors since 1985. There's over 40 flavors of ice cream, including soft serve ice cream and tons of toppings. They also makes milkshakes, banana splits, flurries, malts, root beer floats, smoothies, frozen key lime pie on a stick, and even some fast food like hot dogs.
1801 W International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL, US
When you get to Daytona Beach, you should check out the Daytona International Speedway. The 480-acre complex, known to many as the "World Center of Racing", hosts tons and tons of other events. From the Rolex Sports Car Series to the American Motorcyclist Association to the World Karting Association, there's plenty of high-octane awesomeness to watch. Or, even better, if the track isn't being used for testing race vehicles, you can get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Speedway that takes you on the track. The tours give you the chance to check out spots on the track that even some drivers don't get to see, like the start and finish line, the victory lane, the backstretch suites, the garages and inspection station, pit road, the infield, and the Daytona 500 Championship car.
3140 S Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL, US
The Daytona Beach Drive-In Church is also a pretty interesting and quirky place to check out. They offer drive in church services!
SR 405, FL, US
After Daytona, head out to the Space Coast and experience the amazement that is Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. There’s so much to do here, including visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Definitely try to get on the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour and learn all about America’s incredible spacefaring heritage. Also, the Kennedy Space Center Moon Tree is a fascinating piece of space history: the tree's seeds were taken into space, then brought back to Earth and planted.
401 Meade Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL, US
The next stop is Cocoa Beach. The Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is a landmark dating back to 1962. The pier is home to multiple restaurants and bars, several with great views of the beach and water. Here you can rent your beach supplies, grab a quick shower, or hit the beach volleyball courts.
3244 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach, FL, US
After that you're on to Vero Beach. The Costa D'Este Beach Resort is an oceanfront, art deco-style beach resort hotel that is owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, and it's just a short walk to the shops, restaurants, bars of Vero Beach. There's free wifi, an onsite Cuban restaurant that's super authentic, and a poolside bar.
301 SE MacArthur Blvd, Stuart, FL, US
When you're ready to step back in time, visit Stuart FL's historic House of Refuge Museum. It's located at Gilbert's Bar and it's Martin County's oldest building. In centuries past, houses of refuge were built to accommodate shipwrecked sailors and seafarers, and this is the only remaining house of refuge of the 10 that were built along the Eastern Seaboard.
500 Captain Armour's Way, Jupiter, FL, US
At Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum you can take a climbing tour of this beautiful historic 1860s lighthouse. In addition, there's the waterfront History Museum that was built out of a WWII Naval housing building.
Peanut Island Rd, Palm Beach, FL, US
After Jupiter your next stop is West Palm Beach's secret Presidential nuclear fallout bunker. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the SeaBees secretly built this shelter for President Kennedy in case of attack while at his house in Palm Beach. It was constructed adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station, about 100 yards away, concealed in the woods, and is located underground, but above the water table. After many years of disrepair, the Palm Beach Maritime Museum restored the bunker to its original glory and opened it to visitors.
2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, FL, US
Florida has a lot of amusement parks, zoos, and wildlife, but it only has one drive-through safari: Lion Country Safari, about 20 miles west of West Palm Beach. The safari boasts over 900 animals, feeding experiences, 6 rides, on-site dining, and more. Choose between the walking tour or the drive-through tour (or do both!)
1 Whitehall Way, Palm Beach, FL, US
After Lion Country, visit Palm Beach's Flagler Museum. Built in 1902, the Gilded Age mansion that is now a museum was once heralded as rivaling European palaces. It was considered one of the most beautiful and opulent private homes in America. Today it's a National Historic Landmark that offers guided tours of its luxurious interior and grounds.
1801 N Ocean Blvd, Boca Raton, FL, US
After your visit to American opulence at the Flagler Museum, visit Boca Raton's Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. It's a beautiful nature center to visit on your Florida road trip. Here, you'll find two large aquariums and two smaller ones, and the staff and volunteers are very friendly and eager to help answer any questions you might have about the creatures swimming around inside.
440 Hwy 4 South, Fort Lauderdale, FL, US
Then it's back to the beach! John U. Lloyd Beach State Park is a great way to spend an afternoon. There's an admission fee of $6 per car. If you boat, jet ski, or kayak, you can pull your boat right up to Whiskey Creek. There are some small reefs that you can snorkel to, as well, if you brought snorkeling gear. Overall, it's a great park for families, and it even has some very conveniently-located bathrooms.
Harding Ave, North Miami Beach, FL, US
A trip down A1A puts the beach at your side for miles and miles. You’ll cruise by famous beaches like Daytona and South Beach, but if you’re feeling really adventurous try Haulover Beach: it's clothing-optional!
945 Euclid Ave, Miami Beach, FL, US
But since, you're in the area, make sure to stop by South Beach because it's iconic. Definitely plan on visiting Muscle Beach, and check out the guys pumping iron, and watch people roller blading down the streets. Then if you have time, walk around the Art Deco district. It's like stepping back in time to the roaring twenties!
28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL, US
One of the weirdest stops along your Florida coast road trip is Coral Castle. Legend says Edward Leedskalnin had his heart broken by his fiancee in Latvia, just a day before their wedding, and then he contracted tuberculosis on his trip to America shortly thereafter. Edward was miraculously healed of his TB and he said it was thanks to the healing power of magnets. He then spent almost 30 years building Coral Castle by himself. Some say he used reverse magnetism or another supernatural force to move all the heavy stones into place. The end result is a bizarre tourist attraction of over 1,000 tons of oddly placed, coral-studded rock in the shape of a castle.
9700 SW 328th St, Homestead, FL, US
No road trip is complete without a stop at a National Park, and Biscayne National Park is one of the most fascinating parks in the whole country... even despite the fact that almost the entire park is located in Florida's Biscayne Bay. The park's location in the tropical Florida Keys means you'll get to see some really awesome wildlife.
Underwater, you'll find hundreds of species of coral, and around 200 different kinds of fish. There are also sponges, manatees, crocodiles, alligators, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, sharks, urchins, even the occasional whale and shipwreck. Some of those shipwrecks are best seen while scuba diving. They're pretty easy to reach, as far as dives go; just be careful not to bump into any of the coral growing on them, since even touching some of the corals can kill them.
There are some other reefs further out that require a little more expertise to reach, if you're looking for a challenge, but even those who just want to snorkel can explore some of the wrecks and reefs. Otherwise, take your time and explore the ocean, barriers, and rivers from underwater: that's where the real fun at the park happens!
Marathon, FL, US
One of the best parts of visiting the Florida Keys is driving across Seven Mile Bridge. The views of the blue water make for a mesmerizing, seemingly never-ending drive that will instantly get you in vacation mode. I suggest blasting "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys as you cruise along: it really enhances the experience.
428 Greene St, Key West, FL, US
Your last town is Key West! Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Shel Silverstein, Tennessee Williams and the Mayor of Margaritaville himself, Jimmy Buffett, have all enjoyed a drink (or 10) at Captain Tonys Saloon in Key West, Florida. It's become a Key West staple, but what the tourist guide books often fail to note is the fact that the dive bar used to be a morgue. In fact, there are still bodies buried underneath the bar stools.
201 Duval Street, Key West, FL, US
Close friends with proprietor Joe Russell, Ernest Hemingway helped to name the iconic Key West bar, Sloppy Joe's, and referred to himself as a silent partner. Hemingway modeled the character of Freddy in "To Have and Have Not" on Russell. You can still see some of Hemingway's personal effects on display at Sloppy's and they also have a Hemingway Look-Alike contest every year.
1320 Simonton St, Key West, FL, US
If you need a place to stay, the Blue Marlin Motel is just a block away from the Duval Street shops, and just a few minutes to the water. It's a great and affordable place to spend the night in Key West.
Once you've reached the Southernmost Point Buoy, congratulations! You've made it! Be prepared to wait to get your picture during high season because there are usually lines.
Florida's A1A is a favorite drive for snowbirds, or people who live up north but travel down south for the winter. However, the high season is June through August; this is when kids are out of school and families are vacationing, so expect to pay higher hotel rates during the high season. Also, hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th, and once you reach the Keys driving can be very, very slow and precarious during rainy weather (which also creeps up in January).