The Sunshine State has a lot to offer–including smooth, twisty coastal roads perfectly suited for riding. These rides originating near Jacksonville have it all: spellbinding scenery, motorcycle-friendly stops along the way, and new places to discover as you explore your way down America’s most exotic peninsula. Whether you’ve got a hankering for a long coastal ride or a short hop through the forest, you’ll find it within easy day-tripping distance from Jacksonville.
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1. State Route 13
Distance: 38 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 hours
For a serene ride when you don’t have all weekend, taking a jaunt on SR 13 might be the perfect choice. This low-key two-lane highway isn’t usually busy. It curves through oak glens and shaded forest areas as it follows the St. Johns River south of Jacksonville, offering idyllic views of the river. This ride is all about the views and ambiance and less about the road amenities. The well-paved highway passes through a few small communities and skirts a few small parks. Toward the end, you’ll find a few restaurants and gas stations to refuel. SR 13 is a great ride for a weekend morning or the beginning of a longer cruise out of Jacksonville.
2. The Coastal Run
Distance: 180 miles
Time to Ride: 4-6 hours
When you’re craving the salt air in your hair and the sound of crashing waves as you ride by, the Coastal Run is your answer. This ride begins just north of Jacksonville in Fernandina Beach and follows the coast south. You’ll pass through the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, home to 6,000 acres of unspoiled Atlantic wetlands. Cross the St. John’s River in Mayport on A1A, then follow A1A as it jogs through town and rejoins the coast by Neptune Beach. Once you pass Mickler’s Landing, you’ll be riding on a stretch of road with the Guana river on your right and the open ocean on your left. On the mainland, the protected Guana River Wildlife Management Area runs the length of the coast, ensuring a peaceful (and picturesque) stretch of highway that’s always a favorite among bikers. Saint Augustine is a great place to stop for lunch before continuing your cruise toward Daytona Beach. Once you arrive in Daytona Beach, you can opt to call it a day–or head inland to the Ocala National Forest. Either way, you’ll find a few different flavors of great overnight stays to finish off your day’s ride.
3. St. John’s River Ride, from Fruit Cove to Spuds
Distance: 45.4 miles
Time to Ride: 1.5-2 hours
It’s just a short hop down to Fruit Cove to start this ride along the coast of the St. Johns River. Hop on CR 13 in Fruit Cove and stay on it for the 45-mile cruise down to Spuds. The road hugs the river’s edge for the vast majority of this route, making it one of nicest St. John’s rides you’ll find in the state. The road is well-paved, with no extreme twists or turns. You’ll see a lot of other bikes along the way and a steady but not crowded traffic flow on most days. You’ll find plenty of stops to eat or relax in both Fruit Cove and Spuds. Once you reach Spuds if you’re not ready to pack it in for the day, head east toward the coast and take a jaunt on route A1A on your way back to the city.
4. Rt. 16 from Fruit Cove to St. Augustine
Distance: 25 miles
Time to Ride: 30-60 minutes
Hop on FL 16 for a quick rural cruise on well-maintained roads that let you pick up some speed, enjoy the serene Florida countryside, and skip the expressways. FL 16 crosses Interstate 95 at the southern tip of the Twelve Mile Swamp Conservation Area, then drops you at the junction with Hwy 1 at the heart of St. Augustine. If you feel like exploring, stop by Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, then grab a mouthwatering bite to eat at the Mardi Gras Sports Grill before heading home.
5. Ocala National Forest Cruise
Distance: 63 miles
Time to Ride: 2-4 hours
Though most of Florida’s most breathtaking routes hug the state’s waterways, this jaunt through the Ocala National Forest offers a taste of a different kind of natural beauty–and it’s a great day trip from Jacksonville. Start in Interlachen and take FL 310 down to the junction with 19. Turn right on 19 and follow it through the Ocala National Forest. You’ll touch the southwestern edge of Lake George about halfway through your route, and a bit further down, Alexander Springs is a breathtaking stop if you have time to swim–the water is always perfectly clear and a steady 72 degrees, perfect during the muggiest summer days. Overall, the roads are well maintained and free of twisties. Expect mostly undeveloped areas, wetlands, forests, and a few lakeside views. There is one spot to stop for gas in Salt Springs if you need to top off.
6. St. Augustine to Flagler via A1A
Distance: 35 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 hours
This short segment of A1A showcases some of Florida’s coastal best in a ride that’s easy enough to make from Jacksonville for a day trip. Start in the heart of St. Augustine at the intersection of A1A and San Marco Avenue. You’ll find the St. Augustine visitor’s center at St. Marco Ave and Riberia Street. As you travel south on A1A, you’ll see tempting access ramps to some of NE Florida’s most unspoiled beaches. You’ll also pass plenty of small spots to stop to eat, white sandy beaches, and everything that comes to mind when you think of Florida at its finest. The Bar-Non-Saloon is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. If you feel like exploring, St. Augustine’s alligator farm, the St. Anastasia State Park, and the Anastasia Outdoor Theater all offer something new to see and do.
7. Hampton to Fort White via CR 18
Distance: 40 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 hours
Turn your sights toward the west on this enjoyable ride featuring farms, live oak stands, sweeping curves, and a relaxing rural atmosphere. Hop on CR 18 where it intersects with 100 just north of Keystone Heights and follow it west to the little town of Fort White. You won’t find a ton in the way of amenities along this route, but you will get a chance to soak up the peace and quiet on a well-maintained, easy ride. This jaunt isn’t long, but it’s likely to make you feel like you’re in a different world than Jacksonville proper. And that’s saying something.
8. Jacksonville Beach to Amelia Island
Distance: 31 miles
Time to Ride: 1.5-3 hours
This coastal ride takes you through from the picturesque Jacksonville Beach up through the city up to Amelia Island, a resort area complete with exceptional seafood, well-paved motorcycle-friendly roads, and beautiful scenic parks and vistas. Head north on A1A from Jacksonville Beach. When you reach Mayport, take the ferry across the St. Johns River to continue toward Little and Big Talbot Islands. Here you’ll find a few worthy pull-offs, winding roads, and wetlands full of wildlife. You’ll then cross the George Crady Bridge toward Amelia Island State Park. In Franklintown, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and places to top off your tank–or head to one of the many beaches to sink your toes into the sand before heading back.