Route: 100-miles activates and sightseeing
Time: If you just want to say your drove it, ok one day. If you’re going to take in all the activities, at least two or three days.
Roads: Easy-peasy pavement
Google Maps Full Route Guide
With Florida’s great weather, deep history, beautiful roads and abundance of activities. A ride through this impressive state is never a bad idea. Check out the castles and conquistadors route for a full journey through history and a look into the abundant animal reserves along the way.
Image: @boldbeancoffee A happy barista alchemises beans into brew at Bold Bean Coffee
Jacksonville to Mickler’s Landing 28- miles
To kick-start your pre-ride caffeine fix in Jacksonville, pull up to Bold Bean Coffee Roasters on Stockton Street. They have several locations, but this one has ample parking and rave reviews. If your bike is equipped with a cup holder get one to go, or ease into the day on their open patio. If you’re happy to try something new, check out one of Bold Beans seasonal brews. Or, if it’s a different time of day and you’re looking for a different kind of brew. Check out one of many breweries in the city. Budweiser, Intuition Ale Works, or Engine 15 all call Jacksonville home. Not to many brewery stops though, or this trip will never leave town!
On the way down to Daytona Beach, you’ll have the chance to spot a few animals, but nothing will compare, to the big kitties at the Catty Shack Ranch. If you thought your bike had a bit of a nice purr, wait till you hear the purrs here.
Catty Shack is a wildlife sanctuary that looks into the protection and awareness of big cats. Onsite they usually have tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, bobcats, foxes, and coatimundis. If you’ve ever wanted to get face to face with these incredible animals, there could not be a better place. Contact them ahead of time to ensure they are open when you want to stop by. The entrance fee goes towards looking after the cats as they are a non-profit organization.
After the cat and coffee stops you can make your way out of Jacksonville, then out towards the coastline and Mickler’s Landing. Passing by Ponte Vedra Beach, you may get the sudden urge for shooting a quick 9. The PGA golf tour makes its way through here as well as the Player’s Championship Tennis. Did you leave room in your saddlebags for the clubs and a racket?
Image: source. A vibrant shot of Castle Otttis lite up in blue. It’s just as magnificent under blue sky’s too.
Mickler’s Landing to Castle Otttis 15-miles
An excellent place to stop for a stroll on the beach is at Mickler’s Landing on the ocean. There is free parking right there and bathroom to use at the roadside stop. Mickler’s makes for a great place to search for shark teeth on the beach. Great for a unique and free souvenir from the area.
From here you’ll venture south on the small strip of land that holds up the A1A roadway. To one side is endless views into the Atlantic Ocean. To the other side is the Guana River Wildlife Management Area. There are a couple of access points into the Guana just as you leave Mickler’s Landing or further south at Guan Tolomato Reserve.
The Guana Area is a birders paradise if you are looking to do a couple of short hikes to seek out some of your feathered friends. With over 220 species including Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Eastern Kingbird, and Red-eyed Vireo. There are viewing towers at Capo Creek and Lake Ponte Vedra to give you a better look. The area is also home to the American alligator, river otters, sea turtles, and a variety of aquatic animals. Aside from the 9-miles of trails to hike here, you can also enjoy some kayaking, canoeing, or horseback riding.
After passing by the reserve, you’ll make your way into Vilano Beach and its royal setting. Ok, there is nothing royal about the area aside from a hidden gem on the edge of town known as Castle Otttis. Yes, there is, in fact, a castle built here. Castle Otttis began construction in 1984 and was completed by just two men named Rusty and Ottis. They do have a faith-based approach to life but said the castle was built for no other reason than as an expression of art.
You won’t see this castle attraction on too many motorcycle tours. You best stop by and have a look through some of the 88-glassless windows in the castle. As it wasn’t designed as a tourist attraction, you’ll need to contact them before heading there to be sure that someone will be there to greet you. Entry is free with donations excepted. Your motorcycle deserves a castle background photoshoot like this.
Image: @meghanxbowers A look at the cannon that you can see in action at The Fountain Of Youth
Castle Otttis to St Augustine 4.6-miles
From the Castle make your way south and into the historical settlement of St Augustine. Founded in 1565 – the oldest continuous settlement in America – St. Augustine makes for an interesting stop with great activities and fun photos.
For those of you feeling the wear and tear of the road, a stop at the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain Of Youth should rejuvenate your motorbiking aches and pains. Try some of their youthful spring water and see if the taste is worth the potential results. Then, watch their flintlock musket and cannon shooting displays. Or, maybe take in lunch at the Southern Smoked BBQ eatery. The whole place is full of interactive activities, and if you were looking for a selfie with a peacock, this is your stop.
Elsewhere in town you can stop and see a whole host of exciting activities before continuing on. The bounty at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is an entertaining way to relive some of the peg-leg and parrot histories of the area. Or stop into the Old Jail for a look at the ball and chain lifestyle of prison life before prisoners rights and state-funded hotels, I mean prisons! There is even the St. Augustine Distillery if you found that the Fountain Of Youth drink didn’t solve your aches and pains problems ☺
St Augustine is defiantly on the tourist trail of Florida, so finding options to stay here won’t be an issue. Make a whole day stop and enjoy some of the listed sights. If you end up spending the night and want to pamper your biker-self nicely, check out The Beach Club. Naturally, the location is right at the beach, and they have excellent dining options nearby. Hop in the pool or stroll down to the ocean for a nice refreshing dip.
Image: nps.gov Looking on as the ferry makes its way to historic Fort Matanzas. Fun and free, what more could you ask for
St. Augustine to Fort Matanzas National Monument 17-miles
After a day of fun in the sun at historic St Augustine, hop back in the saddle and continue south on the A1A. You’ll pass by the Matanzas State Park, a total of 16,000-acres of preservation that deer, turkey, hogs, gopher tortoises and a number of other animal species call home. You can camp and take some hikes here if you’d like a night amongst nature, opposed to the previous option of a night near the beach.
A bit further south is a roadside attraction with the perfect price tag. The Fort Matanzas National Monument was once home to the Spanish conquistadors of the 18th century. A strategic point, the Matanzas Inlet was often the spot of some strategic attacks.
From just outside the National Park Service here, you can catch the free ferry ride out to the monument. Once you arrive, there is a short tour to take as well as walk down the boardwalk before making your way back to the parking lot where you came from. The price is right, and the ferry ride is an excellent way to break up the motorcycle ride.
Image: boothillsaloon.com With the tag line “You’re better off here than across the street”, you might feel like you’ve got one foot in either place. Check it out for yourself.
Fort Matanzas National Monument to Daytona Beach 41-miles
With the ferries and forts behind you, jump on your ride and continue south down towards Daytona Beach. Keeping to the A1A is defiantly a nice way to enjoy the journey along with the impressive sight of the ocean.
Of course, if you’re a motor-head, then Daytona Beach will have a special place in your greasy heart. Home to the Daytona International Speedway, you can usually time your road trip through here with any number of motorcycle, go-kart, or stock car races. If you have the patience for a full day of left-hand turns, the wildly popular Daytona 500 is a must. The mecca for bikers, however, is Daytona Bike Week. Shine up your steel pony and slide on some sexy leathers to join in with close to a half-million people for races, shows, concerts, and debauchery. Taking place in the first part of March, you’ll want to book a room well in advance.
Outside of the carbon burning activities, the area around Daytona can keep you occupied with a host of other activities. There is the Daytona Boardwalk, a sort of ongoing mini carnival with shows and games. Or for souvenirs, fair-style food, people watching or to just have your fortune told. Ride down to the Daytona Flea and Farmers Market. It’s a must do experience if you’ve never been to Daytona.
Then, as a last point of biker must do’s in the area. Boot Hill Saloon takes location, location, location, to another next level. They are positioned right across from the graveyard and embody every characteristic of the term “biker bar.” Not to worry, they have staff on hand to make sure things don’t get out of hand ☺
Whether you are looking to avoid the crowds or be right in the center of them. Plan your time of year around either low-tourist season or around maximum-motor-action. For a relatively short strip of roadway, there is an incredibly wide variety of things to see and do along the way. Get you Gators gear on to be prepared for blending in with the locals, then get out and enjoy fabulous Florida.