Florida is considered the paradise of the south, but it’s not all Disney and retirement communities. There’s a reason why people travel there on vacation, and to literally spend the rest of their lives: the climate is warm, the beaches are sparkling, and the people are hospitable. But have you yet considered tackling one of the many amazing motorcycle roads in Florida?
We’ll start by saying this: You should be an experienced rider to take your motorcycle to Florida. It’s not that Floridians are aggressive drivers and there are biker-hunger crocodiles, but the state itself is not known for being the safest for bikers. This is not to egg you on (although you’re probably enjoying the challenge,) but rather to say, to really enjoy the Sunshine State you should be a skilled rider, willing to share the road, and ready to have the ride of your life.
Ozello Trail Ride
This is ranked the #1 motorcycle route for bikers in Florida, and for good reason. You’re going to start in a town called Cutlers, north of Homosassa Springs and off of US Highway 19. Here you’ll find the beginning of W. Ozello Trail, otherwise known as State Route 494.
The route is famous for its scenic waterways, twisting roads, and so much more. It’s a hidden little route that stretches about 60 miles north of Tampa and provides some of the best Gulf Coast riding imaginable. Be sure to stop for lunch at Pecks Port Cove and dine al fresco on the water. Oysters and hush puppies. Um, yes.
Your route will begin at Nokomis, off of US41. You want to locate Albee Road West, or you can start at Blackburn Point. Begin your journey toward the Gulf, and from Blackburn Point head south (from Albee Road head north.) This isn’t a long ride, but it takes you along the beach with amazing views of charming houses and the immaculate scenery of Florida’s west coast.
We’ll note again here that Florida’s beach roads aren’t known for being perfect, but they’re on par and offer unsurpassed views. You’ll enjoy beach horizons on both sides of the road.
Citrus County 476
Start at US 19 north of Weeki Wachee, just south of Homasassa. Go east on 476 to Lake Lindsey Road (which is still 476) and cross US 41 to Bushnell. Continue past Bushnell and enjoy the gentle, curving, tree-encased road which unfolds to farmland and vistas. Riders will benefit from light traffic on this road, and it’s well marked and in great condition. Cross the Withlacoochee River and dine at Ratz Ass, a biker-friendly establishment. Note that there are few stopping places along this route, a number of good restaurants at the Withlacoochee River, and a county park just past US 41. Travel conveniently between Tampa and Crystal River, and gaze at some of the most diverse scenery that Florida has to offer.
North Tampa Circuit
You’re going to begin at Land O Lakes, Florida (and you thought it was just butter.) Start at SR-54 and Collier Parkway. This winds through north Tampa county and up to Brooksville, just east to Trilby, south to Dade City and Zephyrhills, then back west to Land O Lakes. See some of Florida’s most unique views, such as horse and cattle ranches and expansive orange groves. In the spring, take pictures of the orange blossoms and breathe in the sweet aroma in the air. Florida isn’t the hilliest of states, but there are a few places along this route that will surprise you. The roads are in good condition, but there are a couple spots along here that are narrow and a little bumpy, so proceed with caution (pebbles, too.) You’re riding through the countryside so there aren’t a whole lot of amenities, but be sure to visit Stef’s Southern Soul Restaurant in Dade City. In a word: fried chicken. Well, two words.
Don’t consider this a destination ride from point A to point B. This is a fine combination ride with twisties and sweepers in some places. You’ll also benefit from nice, relaxing, straight cruising roads. You can make the whole circuit on a full tank of gas without needing to refill, but if you take some detours then you might need to top off before the end. The early morning is the best time to take this route as there won’t be as much traffic.
Just south of Jacksonville, SR-13 is known as a great place for motorcycles. If you’re coming from the north, take I-295 to the SR-13 exit in Jacksonville. It begins as a busy 6-lane highway, but once you cross the Duval-St. Johns County line it begins to narrow to 4 lanes, eventually becoming a 2-lane country road. It starts as a rather plain ride, but it opens up as you go along. If you come from the south, the route starts just a few miles northeast of Hastings, Florida, off SR-207.
There are several small communities along the way, as well as parks, live oaks, and other shady trees which make this route a delight. This isn’t a twisty road for the most part, as it lazily follows the peaceful river. It’s nicely paved, so you’re not going to have to deal with rough spots or pot holes. Stop at a restaurant or local store along the way, or even better, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy one of the many serene parks.
Florida has a lot to offer motorcycle riders, but always keep your eyes on the road. Beaches, countryside, orange groves, golf courses, and even swamps beckon. There’s so much to see and do, and it’s a lot more exciting when you do it on your motorcycle. Why not pop into Disney World (yes, they allow motorcyclists in,) or head to Cape Canaveral and watch someone blast off to the moon. When you take your motorcycle through Florida, the world is your oyster.