At Peterson's Harley-Davidson, our riding crew has traveled from the tip of the panhandle to the stunning beaches of the Keys to discover the best motorcycle routes in Florida. With hundreds of days of sunlight and warm temperatures year-round, the Sunshine State offers miles upon miles of road through quaint beach towns, lively cities and unspoiled natural areas.
Of the many motorcycle routes in Florida, we've narrowed our list down to the seven that give riders a diverse glimpse of everything the state has to offer. Cruise along both coasts, make pitstops in the heart of Old Florida and ride through the home of thousands of gators.
Route 1: Miami to Mile Zero
Start: Peterson's Harley-Davidson of Miami, 19400 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33132
End: Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S., Whitehead St. & South St., Key West, FL 33040
Approximate Distance: 174 Miles
Fuel up and prepare for a sun-soaked ride from Miami Beach, down to the Southernmost Point of the Continental US. You're bound for the Florida Keys on this relaxing ride that truly gets you away from it all. Ride away from Miami towards Homestead, taking US 1. Wave goodbye to the Southern Glades and say hello to Key Largo. From there on, it's smooth sailing down to Mile Zero.
Cruising the Florida Keys will take a few hours, so enjoy the ride and stop off for a visit along the way. Naturally, you should expect amazing seafood at nearly every restaurant off the road, but there's plenty more to explore if your stomach is full. You'll be able to find natural preserves, state parks and quaint seaside towns with unique shops and attractions all along the route.
The ride may be over, but your adventure is just beginning, once you reach Mile Zero. Park your ride at a hotel and head to Duval Street for a drink. There's always something going on at lively Mallory Square. Or you could charter a boat and spend a few hours on the water. Whatever you choose, you're guaranteed to enjoy this wonderful slice of paradise. Before you take off for the keys, let the riding crew at Peterson's Miami Beach Harley-Davidson get you ready for the road.
Route 2: Tamiami Trail
End: Naples Pier, 25 12th Ave. S., Naples, FL 34102
Approximate Distance: 113 Miles
One of the perks of Florida is that you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico in a single afternoon. If you're looking for a ride that takes you from coast to coast, pack your saddlebags for a journey along the Tamiami Trail. US 41 runs the length of the western side of Florida, taking you from the Georgia border all the way to Naples. Just past Naples, the road drops to two-lanes and heads east, where you can cruise into the heart of Miami.
Depending on your preference, you can begin your trip at either the Naples Pier on the Gulf side or at Brickell Key on the Atlantic side. If you're looking for nightlife and entertainment, end in Miami. If you'd like to make a whole day of the ride, watch the sunrise over the Atlantic, then head to Naples for unrivaled sunsets and fine dining. Whichever direction you choose, be sure to stop into Peterson's Harley-Davidson if you need a tune-up or to test-drive our new models.
The Tamiami Trail is a must-ride if you want to see the undisturbed swamps that house the local wildlife. This trail takes you straight through the Everglades, which are home to alligators, flamingos, panthers, bobcats, fox, deer and too many bird species to count. The Tamiami Trail gives you a glimpse into the real Florida and showcases the indigenous wildlife that evolved here, long before the Mouse arrived.
We suggest all riders pack a few bottles of water and a camera, as there are plenty of lookouts, photo-ops and pull-offs for you to stop at along the way. If you're making a day of the trip, consider going on one of the many great airboat tours offered, stop at the Miccosukee Indian Village to learn about the tribe and grab a bite to eat, or take a detour for a scenic drive around the Big Cypress National Preserve Loop Road.
Route 3: Ocala National Forest
Start: Caravelle Ranch WMA, 7986 National Forest Rd 74, Palatka, FL 32177
End: Pittman Visitors Center — 45621 FL-19, Altoona, FL 32702
Approximate Distance: 45 Miles
Every Florida rider knows there's much more to the Sunshine State than the beaches. Ocala National Forest is a gem located in the heart of the state, and it's one awesome ride for those who'd rather trade the sun and sea for the shade of the trees. Our route through the forest will follow FL-19 the whole way. Ocala National Forest is tucked between Interstate 95 and Interstate 75, making it easy to get to from nearly anywhere in the state.
There are many campgrounds, recreation areas and lakes located throughout this route. We suggest riders with family or friends to spend the weekend camping in the forest and exploring the many smaller roads throughout the route. Lake George State Forest and the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area are on either side of where FL-19 meets FL-40, giving you the option to venture into similar protected areas.
We love this ride because we like to stretch our legs every once in a while. The trails throughout the forest provide ample opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the state on foot without venturing too far off the beaten path. The forest also puts you in close proximity to great natural springs and small Floridian towns that make you feel worlds away from the hustle of big-city living.
Route 4: The Panhandle's Hosford Highway
Start: Interstate 10/Highway 65 — Qunicy, FL 32351
End: Highway 65/ US 98 — Eastpoint, FL 32328
Approximate Distance: 70 Miles
With so much going on in cities like Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, it's easy for some riders to forget that the Panhandle is a special section of Florida, unlike any other. If you're making the trip to Pensacola or Panama City Beach for Bike Week, we encourage you to take a detour along Hosford Highway. Use Interstate 10 as your starting point and turn off at the exit to Highway 65/Hosford Highway heading towards Sawdust.
This route offers all the best features of Florida, condensed into a manageable 70-mile jaunt. As you move south, you'll first cross through part of the Robert Brent WMA before hitting a beautiful stretch of the Apalachicola National Forest. You'll continue down through parts of the Tate's Hell State Forest and Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area. Finally, at the end of your route, you'll make it to the waters where the Apalachicola Bay and Saint George Sound meet the Gulf.
This scenic journey has it all — forests, wetlands, coastlines, rivers — everything you need for an adventure in Old Florida territory. If you want to extend your trip, turn off into the Apalachicola National Forest or Tate's Hell State Forest at any point between the towns of Telogia and Sumatra to explore more. You're going to want to take this route at your own pace, stopping along the way to enjoy some solitude.
Route 5: Manatee/Sarasota County Coastline
Start: Manatee Public Beach — 4000 State Road 64 and Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
End: Nokomis Beach — 717-963 S. Casey Key Rd., Nokomis, FL 34275
Approximate Distance: 37 Miles
The best beaches in Florida are along the Gulf Coast. While you can spend every weekend visiting a new beach, we suggest taking a day to check out the sand, shopping and natural beauty within Manatee and Sarasota Counties. This quick jaunt is less than 40 miles, but will show you the many splendid spots across the state.
Using Interstate 75 as a landmark, you can either begin your ride just west of Bradenton at Manatee Public Beach or at Nokomis Beach. If you start at Manatee Public Beach, you'll be nestled right between Anna Maria Island and Holmes Beach, two fantastic communities that offer breathing room from the business of nearby Bradenton. Follow Gulf Drive south and make your way past Bradenton Beach to Longboat Key.
Enjoy the smell of the sea as you ride the long stretch towards the Sarasota Bay. St. Armands Circle is a great place for a pitstop and a bite to eat. Leave via the John Ringling Causeway and take Bayfront Drive to US 41 for a short spell, heading back west off of 41 at Siesta Drive. Siesta Drive leads you to Siesta Key, where you'll continue your oceanside cruise. Hop back onto 41 at Stickney Point Road, then take Blackburn Point Road to hit Casey Key.
You can ride Casey Key Road all the way down to Nokomis Beach. Throughout your ride, you'll find plenty of public beaches and waterfront bars to stop at. We suggest packing a pair of swimming trunks and a pair of flip flops, so you can enjoy a little time with your feet in the sand.
Route 6: Scenic SR-13 / North St. John's River
Start: Chuck Rogers Park — 11950 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32223
End: Deep Creek Conservation Area — Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Approximate Distance: 41 Miles
The St. John's River is the longest river in the state of Florida, flowing north for over 300 miles. While you could steer your way through a dozen counties to view every inch of it, we suggest plotting a route for one of the most scenic areas of the river. You'll begin your 40-mile trek in North Florida, right beside Chuck Rogers Park in Jacksonville. Another easy point of reference is to pick up SR-13, right where it meets Interstate 295.
SR-13 is a busy, large road but eventually dwindles down to a calm two-lane street. We suggest moving from north to south, so the trip gets easier as you drive. However, if you want to work in the opposite direction, start your journey just above the town of Hastings near the Deep Creek Conservation Area. This ride follows the peaceful river through sleepy communities and quiet parks.
We love this route because it's the perfect way to clear your head. The local shops, eateries and parks along the route provide a few minutes of rest if you need it, but we prefer to spend this easy ride with the music cranked and the wind in our hair for the long haul. Sometimes, the best rides are those that are focused on the journey, not the destination.
Route 7: Ozello Trail
Start: Highway 19/W. Ozello Trail, Crystal River, Florida 34429
End: Ozello Community Park, 398 N. Pirate Point, Crystal River, FL 34429
Approximate Distance: 10 Miles
Let's kick our list off with one of the most popular motorcycle routes in Florida, the Ozello Trail. This curvy trail runs just over ten miles one-way and is perfect for an afternoon cruise any day of the year. You'll need to head up to Crystal River, a town on the Gulf Coast, roughly 80 miles north of Tampa and south of Gainesville. We suggest plotting a course for Highway 19/98 and riding until you're just south of the Crystal River Airport.
The Ozello Trail runs west of the highway and winds you through the slow curves of the Crystal River Preserve State Park. After you ride over the Salt River, you'll come to a small part of town midway through your journey. Stop at Backwater Fins for fresh seafood or head into the Island Outpost for supplies. If you'd rather keep riding, continue on your way along the trail, watching kayakers paddle through the waterways.
You'll now follow the road and curve north towards the end of the Ozello Trail. There's a quick pull-off called Nemesis Corner that gets you close to the water's edge. You may be joined by animal-lovers who let their dogs splash in the waters. Keep riding, and you'll quickly reach the Ozello Community Park right where the trail ends. This park is a popular place to launch a kayak or cast a line, but you could also just kick back and surround yourself with Florida's beauty.
If you've worked up an appetite on this short drive, most riders make it a point to stop at Peck's Old Pirate Cove. Their waterfront dining offers a great opportunity for you to stretch your legs and rest up before heading home. Peck's is also a popular spot for motorcycle riders on Sundays, offering the perfect company to give you tips on other great rides in the area.
Fuel Up and Conquer Florida
It's time to stop talking and start riding. The Sunshine State offers countless motorcycle routes that will show you the diverse culture, ecosystem and locals that call this paradise home. Whether you're in the state for Bike Week, vacation or just trying to spend a few hours getting away from the humdrum of daily life, these seven motorcycle routes offer the freedom to ride through Florida without a care in the world.
If you're in the Miami area, swing by Peterson's Harley-Davidson, your go-to source for everything you need on the road. Along with the newest Harley-Davidson models, we've also got a great pre-owned H-D inventory. Stop by either of our two locations in Miami for riding lessons and special events. Contact us today to learn more about our motorcycle rentals and how to book a motorcycle tour through one of our great Florida riding routes.