There are many scenic drives. I know that we have a few that we love to travel. The one scenic drive that we almost always take when we are on the east coast of Florida is A1A. We have even been known to head over to A1A after a visit to central Florida.
If you have not spent much time in Florida you may wonder what the attraction to A1A is. Even if not from Florida you may have already guessed that beaches along the coast of Florida are what pull us to this eastern coast drive.
Now Florida Highway A1A is not perfect by any means. There are many portions where you will need to exit A1A for a bit. You see to reach a good portion of A1A you must take a short drive across a bridge over-looking the Intracoastal Waterway. For most of A1A’s length it runs along Florida’s East Coast Barrier Islands.
You will find A1A as far south as Key West where it is known as South Roosevelt Boulevard. As you leave Key West you will turn off A1A and join US1 as it travels north on its way to Maine. You can leave US1 in Miami and rejoin A1A through the city.
You will travel north on A1A through Palm Beach and Vero Beach as you head north toward the beaches of St. Augustine, Daytona and Jacksonville. A large portion of A1A in the southern portion of the state is lined with mansions and condominiums which block your view of the Atlantic Ocean. Most of these areas are lovely tropical settings and the mansions themselves are a wonder to see. It is still nice when there is a park or a stretch with no buildings on the beach side of the highway.
by Rockerchi379 via wikimedia commons
I suppose my favorite portion of A1A is the stretch between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Here you will find many of Florida’s secluded beaches just over a sand dune on the side of the road. Some of these stops are designated as parks and you will find parking lots and sometimes bathrooms. A favorite park along this stretch is Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area near Flagler Beach. The park itself is small, but it is named for singer/songwriter/ storyteller Gamble Rogers. Gamble Rogers lost his life in October of 1991 while trying to save a drowning man.
When you leave the Jacksonville area you will go through Mayport. Since you are probably going to have a short wait for the ferry to cross the St. Johns River, you may as well plan to eat at Singleton’s Seafood. Singleton’s may well be my favorite place to eat fried shrimp in the whole world!
After crossing the St. Johns River you can continue on A1A to Fernandina Beach. Fernandina Beach is another great stopping point and you might just want to stay the night so you can have your last taste of Florida beach life before you leave the next morning.
From Fernandina Beach you will head west on Florida Highway A1A to Interstate 95. You can cross Interstate 95 and stay on A1A until it ends at US1 where you can continue your trip north on the blue highway that starts/ends in Key West.