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7 Must-See Stops Along Route A1A, One of the Most Scenic Drives in Florida

Great spots to sightsee, relax, and immerse yourself in nature and history along this picturesque road

spinner image Town Square in St. Augustine Florida
St. Augustine is one stop along Florida’s A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway.
Getty Images

State Route A1A in Florida is a north-south highway nearly 340 miles long that runs along the east coast, spanning almost the entire length of the state from just below the Georgia border to Key West. Among the best road trips in the country, it offers something for everyone because it cuts through serene beaches as well as some of the state’s busiest and most popular cities.

A particularly charming section of A1A is a 72-mile stretch known as the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway. This part of A1A has a slower pace – it’s mostly a two-lane road – but that makes it a great place for a leisurely drive. The byway offers relaxing beaches, state parks, historical sites, and some of the least congested and unspoiled areas on A1A.

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Here are some of the highlights you don’t want to miss if you’re coasting along the Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway.

spinner image A dog being walked on a canine friendly beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida
Dogs are welcome at Mickler’s Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Courtesy Visit Florida

Ponte Vedra Beach

Located near the byway’s northern tip, Ponte Vedra Beach is among the road’s most upscale sections. Known for its premiere golf courses, luxurious estates and fine dining, the area also boasts stunning ocean landscapes dotted by sand dunes, along with great kayaking spots. Explore the fascinating ecosystems and exotic wildlife contained within the more than 70,000 acres of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Your canine family members will enjoy a visit to dog-friendly Mickler's Landing, which is known for its pink sand and abundance of sea turtles.

spinner image The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine is the oldest surviving masonry fort in the continental U.S.
Daron Dean/VISIT FLORIDA

St. Augustine

Sometimes referred to as “America’s oldest city,” St. Augustine is more accurately described by history buffs as the site of America’s first continuous European and African American settlement. One thing’s for certain: This is a city with a rich history. Wander along brick-paved streets lined with buildings that have stood for hundreds of years – including those found within the Oldest House Museum Complex (adults: $12.95; 55-plus: $9.95) – or tour Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (adults: $15), the oldest surviving masonry fort in the continental United States. A few blocks off A1A is Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park (adults: $19.95; 60-plus: $17.95), which has become a popular attraction (and photo opportunity) for tourists visiting the area. Need a break after all that walking? Catch some shade under the branches of “Old Senator,” a sprawling oak tree near downtown St. Augustine that’s believed to be more than 600 years old.

spinner image Fort Matanzas National Monument in Florida
Fort Matanzas National Monument along Matanzas Inlet features a watchtower dating back to the 1700s.
Scott Barnett/VISIT FLORIDA

Matanzas Inlet

Located in the central section of the byway between St. Augustine and Flagler Beach, Matanzas Inlet – which spans 300 acres – is the perfect spot to relax and recharge, as its beach offers mesmerizing ocean views. You’ll want to spend plenty of time exploring this part of A1A if you love nature or history. While you’re here, visit the Fort Matanzas National Monument, which features a watchtower dating back to the 1700s, and (if your timing is right) seize the opportunity to observe active sea turtle nesting areas at and around the monument.

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spinner image A woman at Marineland in Florida getting a kiss from a dolphin
Dolphins appear to be the star at Marineland Dolphin Adventure in Marineland.
Courtesy Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches

Marineland Dolphin Adventure

Located in the town of Marineland, this one-of-a-kind “oceanarium” was originally created as an underwater film studio more than 80 years ago. Today, it’s also an irresistible destination for anyone who loves dolphins or ocean creatures of any kind. Peek out the porthole windows to watch marine life go about their normal routine – it’s like getting a rare view of another world. Throughout the park, you can see a wide range of ocean-dwelling animals, from sea turtles to sand tiger sharks, but the dolphins seem to be the undisputed stars. You have the chance to participate in a variety of exciting dolphin experiences, including the “Trainer for a Day” program ($349.99, plus tax, which includes cost of admission; participants must be 12 or older; bring swimwear and contact the facility in advance if participants need accommodations due to physical or behavioral conditions).

spinner image An old tree in Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Florida
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park combines lush greenery, beautiful landscapes and wildlife habitats.
Courtesy Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park 

Located just off Route A1A in Palm Coast (north of Flagler Beach), Washington Oaks Gardens State Park ($5 per vehicle containing two to eight people; $4 for single-occupant vehicle; and $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists or extra passengers) is unique thanks to its special combination of beautiful landscapes, wildlife habitats, lush greenery and centuries-old natural features. A great spot for a picnic, fishing, birdwatching or a peaceful hike – and it’s even a popular wedding locale. 

spinner image A sign at the entrance of Bing's Landing in Florida
Bing’s Landing has a fishing pier, playground and plenty of wildlife and natural beauty.
Courtesy Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches

Bing’s Landing

This 8-acre park has a fishing pier, playground, canoe/kayak launch and plenty of wildlife and natural beauty. A must-see spot here is the Mala Compra Plantation Archaeological Site, where you can get a valuable glimpse into an important part of Florida (and U.S.) history. The archeological site – accidentally discovered in the late 20th century when Flagler County was excavating property in the area – contains the remnants of Mala Compra Plantation, which was once owned by Joseph Hernández, the first Hispanic American to serve in the U.S. Congress.

spinner image A woman reading a book by the ocean in Flagler Beach, Florida
Enjoy the laid-back vibe of the free Flagler Beach.
Courtesy Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches

Flagler Beach

If your idea of the perfect getaway is chilling out in a laid-back atmosphere where you can listen to the waves from a bench on the pier while Jimmy Buffett tunes are likely playing in the background, this low-key beach town might seem like paradise. The locals are known to be friendly and welcoming, the town has a retro feel, the beach is gorgeous (with free access), and you’re not likely to find the noisy, rowdy crowds you sometimes encounter at other Florida beaches. Be sure to grab a bite at High Tides at Snack Jack, an iconic waterfront eatery that opened in 1947 and offers a retro, old-Florida vibe with amazing ocean views.

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