#NEVERIDLE JOURNAL   //   Roadtrip Travel

8 Coastal Drives To Take This Summer


There’s something about the summer that feels like freedom. Maybe it’s residual memories of school letting out or maybe it’s the seasonal feel of longer days and dusk putting us to bed. For a Floridian like me, summer as a kid meant warm nights and popsicles melting down my arm before I could finish them. Summer was when my family vacationed, driving down to the coast for cooler temps—or at least a light breeze. My sisters and I would pile in the van, crack the windows and doze off to the smell of sea salt and the sounds of seagulls.

There’s nothing better than a summer drive and some good tunes to make memories that last. Get a sniff of our nation’s sea breeze with these scenic coastal drives. Set aside plenty of time to wind your way down these historic byways rich in history, culture, sights and smells.

1. Florida Keys Scenic Highway, Florida

You can’t get more coastal than endless water on both sides of the road. With the Atlantic on your left and the Gulf of Mexico on your right, US 1 is unlike any other in the world. The longer you drive down the road, the more relaxed you become as you pass palms, beach bars, and island homes. Each Florida key holds its own personality, history, recreation, and island culture so take your time meandering from Key Largo to Key West. 

 

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2. Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway, Michigan

Although technically not on an ocean coast, this drive along Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay has an endless water horizon and quiet, sandy beaches. The peaceful drive will have you feeling like you should be hearing seagulls. 

 

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3. Pacific Coast Highway-Route 1, California & Oregon

When we think of coastal drives, the epic Highway 1 along California’s long coastline comes to mind. The jagged cliffs of California’s coastline are met with crashing waves and illuminated by breathtaking sunsets. The scenes seemingly never end on this highway stretching nearly 800 miles from Southern California up into Oregon. 

 

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4. Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, Massachusetts

The East coast holds its own appeal and charm. The quaint colonial villages along this coastal drive will take you back to American yesteryear. Charming harbors and unbelievable seafood await on this 84-mile drive. If you’re itching to get out of the car, try exploring this byway by bike, boat, train, or by foot. 

 

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5. Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail, Florida Panhandle

Beneath the Apalachicola National Forest and along the limestone coast of Florida’s panhandle is a scenic coastal drive with a rich history. This trail is full of stories of cowboys, Indians, and dangerous trade routes. Be sure to stop at the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring. 

 

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6. A1A, Florida East Coast

With a coast on all sides, Florida offers a variety of scenic, oceanfront drives. On Florida’s East coast, head down A1A through old Florida beach towns. Expansive beaches and shell hunting await—or charter a boat for some of the best fishing in the country.

 

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7. Old King’s Highway, Massachusetts

This Cape Cod drive is full of history. Once a trade route, this Massachusetts peninsula was once a trade route. Now, it’s a road that passes through seven cape towns—making it a picturesque bike ride and an even better drive. 

 

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8. Outer Banks Scenic Byway, North Carolina

North Carolina’s barrier islands offer a 130-mile scenic drive through historic towns along beautiful beachfront. The coast here is characterized by the lighthouses that saved many a maritime vessel, offering intriguing stories of war, weather, and coast guard heroes.

 

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