Fort Pierce to Miami
A Ribbon of Sand and Wildlife
|Mileage||139 miles (224 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||5 hours|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||All Seasons|
|Roadways||Florida Highway A1A, US Highways 1 and 1, Bal Bay Drive, Bayshore Drive, Beach Road, Bridge Road, Broadway, County Road, Doubloon Drive, Mariner Drive, Miami Road, Monterey Road, Ocean Drive, River Road, Royal Poinciana Way, Seabreeze Boulevard, and Seaway Drive|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.||Fort Pierce, FL▼, Jupiter, FL▼, Boca Raton, FL▼, Pompano Beach, FL▼, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL▼, Fort Lauderdale, FL▼, Davie, FL▼, and Miami Beach, FL▼|
4.3 average from 4 votes
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If you like warm weather, ocean breezes, soft sand in your toes — welcome to the Florida coast! A mix of glitz, endless beaches and nature, Florida contains more species of plants and animals than every state, other than Hawaii. The area also reflects the history of Native American Indians, Spanish explorers, pirates, shipwrecks, and the civil war.
This scenic drive along Highway A1A hugs the Atlantic Coast traveling from Fort Pierce to Miami. There is so much to do and see on this 5-hour drive, that we highly recommend taking a few days to explore. Each of the cities that dot the route offer the full range of accommodations to fit every budget, and services to create your perfect holiday — all you need is sunscreen, a sunhat and drinking water.
The drive begins in Fort Pierce. It’s easy to spend the day at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park (H2). The jetty is an excellent vantage point for fishing, or to watch the surfers who are drawn here for the big waves, especially in fall and winter. Get a surf board, or try scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming. Prefer to stay on land? Don’t miss the Coastal Hammock Trail which explores one of the few oak hammocks that remain on a South Florida barrier island, and then climb the observation tower for panoramic views. Learn more about local history and nature on a weekend ranger-guided tour. Fort Pierce Inlet State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, as its location is an important stop for migrating birds. You’ll also find a paved bike path, playground, picnic area and grills. All Florida State Parks charge an entrance fee.
Fort Pierce is considered the birthplace of the Navy Seals. Visit the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum (M5) to explore an extensive collection of artifacts ranging from weaponry, Humvees, helicopters, submarines, drones, photographs, and documents. Board the Maersk Alabama, the lifeboat in which Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage for five days by Somali Pirates in 2009 before being rescued by Navy Seals.
At Flagler Beach Fishing Pier (W6), you’ll find great fishing, bait shop, and a beautiful viewpoint for a jaw-dropping sunrise or sunset. A modest fee is charged. Then head down to 7-miles of pristine beach for swimming and beachcombing.
One of many protected habitats along this drive, Savannas Preserve State Park (H3) is home to the largest and most intact savanna on the east coast of Florida. Here, wildlife abounds with egrets, spoonbills, sandhill cranes, owl and osprey, as well as gopher tortoises and American alligators which can be observed on 15 miles of trails for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. Launch your own kayak or canoe, or explore this unique habitat on a 2-hour kayak or canoe ranger-led tour every Fri. and Sat. at 8:30 — reservations required.
Take yourself out to the ballgame at the Roger Dean Stadium (A4). Two major league baseball teams, the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, play their spring training games here, as well as four minor league teams, the Palm Beach Cardinals, Jupiter Hammerheads and rookie teams, the Gulf Coast Marlins and Gulf Coast Cardinals.
Seabranch Preserve State Park (H4) was once slated to become a golf course. This extraordinary habitat of sand pine scrub, scrubby flatwoods, a baygall community (a freshwater wetland), tidal swamp, estuarine seagrass beds, and a mangrove swamp, is home to an equally diverse group of wildlife from white ibis, wood stork, manatees, gopher tortoises and American alligator. Walk along 8-miles of trail through a rich array of plant life.
Comprising a mix of sand pine-scrub oak forest, coastal dune, and mangrove swamp, the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge (A1) protects 40 rare species including the scrub jay and gopher tortoise. Walk the short .4-mile Sand Pine-Scrub Oak Trail or the 2.5-mile trail to Peck Lake. Observation platforms are the perfect vantage point for photography. The Jupiter Island tract is one of the most productive sea turtle nesting areas in the United States. Register for nature programs such as guided turtle education walks in June and July, and scrub tours. Relax on beautiful white sand beaches, swimming, fishing, and boating. There is a fee to enter covered by an America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
Blowing Rocks Preserve (A2) on Jupiter Island is named for the dramatic display of water crashing onto, and through, blow holes in the Anastasia limestone that have been sculpted by wind, water, and time. Visit on windy winter days, or extreme high tides, for water plumes that shoot more than 50-feet high. Also enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and scuba-diving at the protected beach. Walk the hiking trails to observe osprey, hummingbirds, rare loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtles, and endangered plants. The education center features exhibits and naturalist programs such as an 40-minute guided walk every Sunday at 11 AM. There is a nominal entrance fee, under 12 free.
Cutting through Jonathan Dickinson State Park (H5) is Florida’s first federally-designated Wild and Scenic River, the Loxahatchee River. The winding river is one of Florida’s best for canoeing and kayaking, where you can observe alligators, manatees, otters, and over 150 species of birds — or take a narrated boat tour. With 11,500-acres, the park offers a blend of nature, recreation, and history. Only accessible by water, visit the Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site. Nelson came to this area in the 1930’s to live off the land trapping and selling furs. The restored homestead takes you back in time as you amble by cabins, a Seminole Indian “Chickee” shelter, and planted tropical gardens. Note, the Trapper site is closed Tue. and Weds. The Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center features interpretive displays, ranger-led walks and programs. Recreation abounds, with swimming, fishing, equestrian, and hiking trails, and the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of wildlife, wildflowers and trees from the 27-foot-tall observation tower. Offering a challenge for every level, cyclists will love the paved trails and the 9-mile Camp Murphy Off-Road Bicycle Trail. Equipment rentals and guided tours for every activity are available on-site. Make it an overnight with camping or cabin rentals.
Heading further south you come to Coral Cove Park (H6). Rocky outcrops near the water’s edge create interesting shapes, arches and tunnels. The rocky shore is attractive for sea turtles, eels, fish, and sharks, which in turn, is a draw for snorkelers. Enjoy swimming, fishing, picnic area, and playground. The park is free.
From here, about 15 minutes east of US-Highway 1, are a few interesting stops. The Jupiter Inlet has had a rich history since being discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513. Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park (H7) is the site of the last two major battles of the Second Seminole War in 1838, the longest and most expensive Indian war in American history. Learn more on a battlefield tour offered Saturdays at 10am and don’t miss the elaborate battle reenactment held in fall. Surrounding trails are wonderful with the chance to spot deer, peacocks, alligators, and birds. Once here, you can also visit Riverbend Park.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary (A3) is a non-profit sanctuary for a diverse range of native wildlife such as alligators, crocodiles, bobcats, panthers, Florida black bears, owls, otters, and more. When possible, animals are rehabilitated and returned to the wild. Others, become ambassadors, as each close-up encounter reminds us of the importance of protecting our natural world. The Sanctuary features easy walking paths and natural landscaping, similar to a zoo, and makes a great afternoon for kids of all ages. The sanctuary is free, donations appreciated.
The drive continues back on A1A. Split by US-Highway 1, the Juno Dunes Natural Area (H8) offers two areas to explore — comprising 12 native ecosystems: beach dune, coastal strand, maritime hammock, hydric hammock, scrub, scrubby flatwoods, xeric hammock, mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, basin marsh, depression marsh, and mangrove swamp. Technically, that means an astoundingly varied group of plants and animals to observe. The Oceanfront Tract can be accessed from Loggerhead Park and features a several nature trails, some accessible, and a covered observation deck. Keep a look out for otter, green anole, gopher tortoise, nine-banded armadillo, and eastern cottontail. At the West Tract, climb the observation tower for astounding views of the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. A dizzying array of texture and color awaits with the flowering beauty of the endangered four-petal pawpaw, air plants, pink coral bean, which are aflutter with butterflies and birds. Drinking water and restrooms are only available at nearby Loggerhead Park (H9).
There are many golf courses in Florida, but at the PGA National Resort and Spa (A5), you can play in the footsteps of golf legends. Home of the Honda Classic, discover five courses, accommodations, restaurants, and spa.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park (H10) is a mix of coastal and tropical hammock and mangrove forest, and a haven for 7 rare or endangered native tropical and coastal plant species and 22 species of animals designated as endangered or threatened. Visit the MacArthur Beach Nature Center to learn more through videos presentations, interpretive exhibits, and educational programs. Then walk the Dune Hammock Trail, and delight in a forest of gumbo limbo, strangler fig, and other tropical and subtropical trees, or the Satinleaf Trail to observe how plant communities change amid subtle elevation changes. Pick up a self-guiding brochure at the trailhead. The park is also a stop along the Great Florida Birding Trail. There is a 1,600-foot boardwalk to the beach where you can enjoy swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing, or you can board the free tram service. Launch your canoe and kayak, or rent one on-site to explore the calm estuary, Lake Worth Lagoon, and Munyon Island. Note, tide must be high to kayak. There are many accessible amenities, including a ramp to beach and beach wheelchairs.
To visit Peanut Island Park (H11), you will need your own boat, or take the ferry from Sailfish Marina Resort, or Riviera Beach Marina, or board the Peanut Island Water Taxi. Once on this 80-acre tropical park, enjoy swimming beaches along the Intracoastal, shaded picnic areas, camping, and walking path that circumnavigates the island. Beautiful, clear water is perfect for viewing colorful fish, stingray, barracuda, manatees, and a shipwreck while snorkeling. Note there are no concessions or food on the island, be sure you have all your gear, food and water with you. On the island is the Kennedy Bunker, built in 1961 for President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The bunker is operated by the Palm Beach Maritime Museum and is open for tours which also include the historic Coast Guard Station. There is an admission fee.
In West Palm Beach, the Gilded Age is alive and well at the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum (M1). The 100,000-square-foot Whitehall mansion was built in 1902 as a wedding gift for Flagler’s wife, and is now a National Historic Landmark. Boasting a marble entrance with grand double staircase, tour 75 lavishly-decorated rooms in the styles of Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, the Italian Renaissance, and Francis I. Explore art, sculptures, furnishings, jeweled chandeliers, a 1,249-pipe J.H. and C.S. Odell Co. organ, and so much more. Peruse the rotating exhibits and gardens with natural landscaping and sculptures. Or tour on your own with a complimentary audio tour or app. There is an admission fee. Closed Mondays.
The fragile strip of land sandwiched between the Intracoastal and the ocean from Palm Beach to Delray Beach is one of the nicest stretches of the A1A.
Intracoastal Park (H12) is best known for its dive location. The wreckage of Lofthus, a 223-foot Norwegian ship lies beneath 15-feet of water and has been designated an Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The remains have also become a sanctuary for a wide range of marine life. The small park itself has a picnic tables, a playground, and non -motorized boat launch. Swimming is not permitted here.
Looking for a secluded beach? A shaded boardwalk trail leads to Ocean Ridge Hammock Park (H13), where you’ll find peace and quiet, no lifeguards or facilities. Parking is free.
Looking for a popular family beach destination? Top-rated Oceanfront Park Beach (H15) features a life-guarded beach, playground, volleyball court, concession stands, and picnic area with grills. Pack up the sand toys and a picnic for an incredible day on the beach. There is a parking fee.
Mangrove Park (H14) is an easy, quick stop to relax amid nature. Connected by tidal inlets, the free park is a great location for wildlife watching. Stroll along the boardwalk and read the interpretive panels to learn about the natives — turtles, crabs, fish, banana spiders and manatees.
In Boynton Beach you’ll find beaches, natural areas, golf courses, a lively downtown for shopping, and dining options, from seaside shacks to upscale restaurants. Don’t miss Art in Public Places, a series of outdoor sculptures and installations which can be seen along East Ocean Avenue.
If you’re interested in flora and fauna, we highly recommend a detour from the coast to these natural areas. Visit the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (H26). The Refuge protects the northern Everglades habitat and is home to a plethora of birds, including egrets, hawks, herons, ducks, and the endangered snail kite and wood stork. Also found here are turtles, alligators, and snakes such as the Florida cottonmouth and dusky pygmy rattlesnake. Explore the cypress swamp, butterfly garden, rent a canoe or kayak and paddle through waterlilies and grasses, and enjoy miles of hiking and biking trails. The visitor center features exhibits and knowledgeable docents. Join seasonal guided programs such as wildflower walks, tram tours, and full moon guided canoe trips. There is a small entrance fee or free with your America the Beautiful Pass. In Delray Beach, visit the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (M6). In 1904, this land was home to a planned community of pioneering Japanese farmers. The agricultural experiment did not work, but in 1977, the 200-acre park was transformed into a tranquil, yet exhilarating Japanese Garden. Today, meander the pathways through six distinct gardens and delight in a fascinating collection of shrubs, trees, and flowers. Discover raked rock zen-gardens, lanterns, a bonsai collection, and waterfall. Lizards scamper through the plants, turtles bask on rocks, birds flutter, koi eagerly wait to be fed at the pond, and if you look carefully, you may even spot an iguana. The museum, Yamato-kan, features permanent exhibitions exploring George Morikami's arrival to Florida, and contemporary Japanese culture. The main entrance features a gallery with rotating exhibits, tea-tasting, a café and gift shop. There is a free guided tour available for smartphones (see website for info) or rent an audio tour for $3. There is a fee to enter, free for kids under 5. Closed Mondays. Nearby, the Wakodahatchee Wetlands (H17) is a birdwatchers’ paradise, home to over 140 species including green heron, red-winged blackbirds, barn swallows, and palm warblers. Lush plant life offers food and shelter to a myriad of other wildlife such as alligators, iguanas, turtles, and marsh rabbits. Gazebos at the end of the boardwalks offer respite from the sun and the occasional rain, and a chance to simply sit and observe the natural beauty. Tours are offered on the second Tuesday of each month at 9:00 am. Sign up early. The Wakodahatchee Wetlands are free. Just a little further northeast, is Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center (A6). Explore 100 acres of constructed wetland on 1.5-miles of elevated boardwalks offering the chance to observe turtles, alligators, and birds such as least sandpiper, roseate spoonbills, hawks and osprey. The beautifully-designed Nature Center has knowledgeable docents, exhibits, education programs, and gift shop. The Nature Center closed on Sunday, but the park is open daily. The Green Cay Wetlands are free.
The drive continues back on A1A, the route lined with palm trees. In Boca Raton, are three inviting beaches. All of them offer beautiful life-guarded swimming beaches and picnic areas. Red Reef Park (H19) has a rocky outcropping fairly close to shore which is great for beginner snorkeling, and the chance to spot scorpionfish, crab, and stingray. Spanish River Park (H18) is the largest of the three, and features a bike path and nature trails. South Beach (W1) boasts lush natural areas that attract a wide variety of birds. Entrance fees for these beaches are a little higher than others along the route. If you’re a city resident, consider an annual permit that is valid for all three beaches.
The Boca Raton Museum of Art (M2) is a cultural gem. An interesting permanent collection displays a range of periods and styles, from European painting and sculpture 1775-1945, a collection of Modern Masters that include works by de Chirico, Picasso, Klee, and Modigliani, to Pre-Columbian and Asian Art, as well as a series of rotating exhibits such as silkscreen prints by Andy Warhol. The museum is adjacent Mizner Park, where you can indulge in shopping galore, restaurants, and entertainment.
In Deerfield Beach, walk along the 976-foot Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier (W2) for stunning water views, people-watching and fishing. Fishing equipment can be rented on-site, and you can also register for fishing lessons. Sunsets are sensational. There is a nominal for sightseeing and fishing on the pier. Then head down to the beach, or enjoy seaside restaurants.
A triangle of green surrounded by the Gulf Stream, Deerfield Island Park (H20) is accessible by boat only. Take a ferry, or the free boat shuttle from the dock at Sullivan Park between 10 AM to 3 AM on weekends only. This off-the-beaten-path park is home to iguanas, manatees, a turtle nesting area, birds and more.
In Hillsboro Beach, visit the Barefoot Mailman Statue (A7), one of three Barefoot Mailman statues in South Florida. The monument was erected in 1973 as a tribute the 11 barefoot mailmen who walked the sandy shoreline between Palm Beach and Miami in the late 1880’s, a journey took 6 days. It’s hard now to imagine a time in Florida without roads.
At Hillsboro Inlet Park (H21) you’ll find a small playground, picnic tables, fishing spots and lovely harbor views. In the distance is Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse built in 1906. Take your photos from here, as getting to the lighthouse is a challenge. It is open only a few times per year and requires booking a tour by boat. Once there, you have the opportunity to climb the 175 steps to the top (closed footwear required). Located here is another Barefoot Mailman statue, this one by sculptor Frank Varga.
The 1000-foot Pompano Beach Fishing Pier (W3) was built in 1963. The pier is open 24 hours a day and is lighted for night fishing. Bonus — this pier is free for both sightseeing and fishing.
In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, stroll the 900-foot Anglins Fishing Pier (A8). It was also built in 1963 and is well set up for fishing with a bait shop and gear rentals. Try your luck fishing for snapper, grouper, snook, king mackerel, tarpon, and sailfish. There is nominal a fee for sightseeing and to fish. Scuba divers and snorkelers flock to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, known as the beach diving capital of the Continental U.S.
In Fort Lauderdale, partake in water sports of every type. Boogie boarding, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, scuba diving, surfing, water-skiing, wake-boarding, deep-sea fishing, and sport fishing. All along the coast you’ll find a range of outfitters, cruises, lessons, and tours.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (H22), preserves four distinct habitats. Hike the trails or get a different perspective by renting a canoe or kayaks and meander the freshwater lagoon. Rich in wildlife, the park is listed on the Great Florida Birding Trail and the beach is a nesting site for loggerhead turtles. Ranger guided walks which are held every Friday at 10:30 AM or head out on your own with guided audio tour. There is a small fee to enter. You can also get here by Water Taxi. This park is just one of 15 stops along the water taxi route. With unlimited hop on, hop off, all day, it’s an easy way to get your views from the water. Plus, you can check out the stunning mansions and yachts on Millionaire’s Row.
The 35-acre beachfront property where the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens (M3) now stands, was given by Hugh Taylor Birch to his daughter and her husband, artist Frederic Clay Bartlett as a wedding gift. In 1920, construction began on this plantation-style home replete with mahogany ceilings and painted murals created by Mr. Bartlett. The interior furnishings are all original. The site is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens feature a magnificent orchid collection, palms, waterlilies, and wildlife including swans, iguanas and birds. There is an admission fee.
At Dania Beach Ocean Park (H24) swim at the life-guarded beach, and picnic while watching windsurfers, boats, and pelicans. The small fishing pier has a fee.
In Hollywood, John U. Lloyd Beach State Park (H23) is a superb spot to get your water recreation on. Along with swimming, boating, paddle-boarding, underwater geocaching in Whiskey Creek, surf-fishing, and kayaking, the park has one of the best beach diving sites just 100 yards from the shore. Concessionaires offer guided tours and equipment rentals. There are many accessible amenities as well.
The Anne Kolb Nature Center (A9) is a 1500- acre coastal mangrove wetland. Wander the trails and boardwalks to observe five species of turtles, loggerhead, green, leatherback, hawksbill, and kemp’s ridley, as well as spiders, lizards, crabs and raccoons. Then take the elevator, or stairs, up the 68-foot high observation tower for a bird's-eye view. The nature center features hands on exhibits, touch tank, video presentations, and 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium, and programs such as guided boat tours. The marina at nearby West Lake Park, rents kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle-boards. Free admission — small charge for nature center and boat tours.
The 2.5-mile Hollywood Beach Boardwalk is iconic, drawing thousands of people every day and night to a blend of 1920s Old Florida and modern styling. Hang out and take in the views, walk the entire stretch, and then, take the trolley back. The trolley has a small fee, but well worth it as an option to visit beaches, shops, activities, and restaurants without worrying about parking. There is no street or cars between the action and the beach. In the evening, the boardwalk is well-lit and has a vibrant, family-friendly atmosphere. Enjoy live music, a myriad of restaurants and bars, and shopping. Hollywood’s seven miles of beaches have been designated Blue Wave Beaches, certified as clean, healthy and environmentally well-managed. Bring your beach gear and relax — or try a para-sail flight, wave-runner ride, snorkeling, or stand up paddle boarding. You’ll find tours and rentals for every activity.
The A1A continues to Miami. Miami glistens day and night, and there is no shortage of things to do. Strut your stuff, jog, bike, or rollerblade along the Miami Beach Boardwalk (W5) which begins at Indian Beach Park and travels 4-miles to 5th Street. Revel in people watching, artists, music, and a dazzling array of clubs, bars, and shopping. A mix of Latin flavor and other cultures have made Miami a foodie destination and you’ll find superb cuisine from casual to upscale. And then there’s the beach. Bring a chair, or rent one, and simply enjoy the gorgeous turquoise water. I mean, that’s why you’re here isn’t it.
Discover a bit of Europe at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (M4). The impressive winter home of James Deering was designed to reflect an 18th-century Italian villa. Overlooking Biscayne Bay, the Main House boasts 34 lavishly-appointed rooms with a stunning collection of art and furnishings. Ten acres of elaborate, formal gardens highlight diverse horticultural collections, from hedges in geometric patterns to preserved native forest, as well as, and sculptures, gazebos, and fountains. Don’t miss a visit to the Orchidarium, which houses over 2,000 specimens of orchids. Vizcaya is a National Historic Landmark. There is an admission fee.
The drive officially ends here, but you might want to consider one last adventure to Key Biscayne, a developed barrier island. Bill Baggs Cape State Park (H25) offers a magnificent swimming beach, fishing, kayaking, hiking trails, concessionaire, restaurant, and camping. Just relax to crashing waves, cool ocean spray, and dreamy sunsets. The Cape Florida Lighthouse was built in 1825, and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. Climb 109 steps to the top for breathtaking 360-degree views on a free tour at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm Thursday to Monday. Birdwatchers rejoice — the park is home to the Cape Florida Banding Station which monitors the migratory birds that stop here along the Atlantic Flyway. Of historic note, Cape Florida was designated a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site.
From here, head to the Florida Keys.