Route: 346 miles of some of the most beautiful coastline and dramatic wildlife areas that America has to offer.
Time: If you like miles, one day. If you like camping, two days. If you like exploring, three days.
Roads: Pavement is possible the entire way. If you want to get off the main road, there are limited options to get too crazy.
Google Maps Full Route Guide
Image: Roger W on Flickr. A view from the Gulf of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Buddy Brew Coffee to Sunshine Skyway Bridge 41-miles
Buddy Brew Coffee is like stopping by for coffee at your friend’s place before heading out for a ride. Buddy Brew started out as the gift of a coffee brewer from founder Dave to his then-girlfriend Susan. The idea was born out of love for coffee and accidentally grew into a garage roasting business named after their dog, Buddy. The coffee company now boasts several stand-alone shops and a host of coffee services.
Buddy Brew has exploded in popularity for a reason, and you should make a stop here for one of their smoothies for freshly roasted coffees before heading out on the road to Miami. Stop by for a chocolate croissant, try a cold brew “Bolt” or get your lips on a coffee shooter. Your road trip concentration will be happy you did.
If you’re only in Tampa for a short time, there is plenty to see and do. For something special to help you take a small piece of Tampa’s beauty, take a stroll on the Tampa Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile walk along the Hillsborough River that passes along the waterway, restaurants and some tourist services. When you’re looking for something special to do while passing through the city, you should make this free attraction one of your activities. There is plenty of people watching and food choices to choose from along the way.
As you exit Tampa, take the 275 out of the city and follow it south. This will take you to, and across, the incredible Sunshine Skyway Bridge. To experience this bridge on a motorcycle is truly amazing and you’ll get incredible panoramic views of the whole Tampa Bay area. The four-lane cable-stayed bridge spans 4.14-miles at the height of 430-feet. Wow!
On the way across the bridge, there is an excellent stopping point at the Skyway Fishing Pier. Here you can stop to stretch your legs and grab something to eat from one of the many vendors. There is also the option to fish with some sellers offering fishing bait and advice. You’ll need to pay a small fee to get in, and if you are coming from the Tampa side, first you need to pass the Pier then make a U-turn at the bridge bend.
Image: Source. Dinner at the Sandbar as the sunsets
Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens 50-miles
For a unique driving experience and to truly feel the ocean breezes across you and the bike, exit onto the 19 as the Skyway comes down across the Terra Ceia Reserve. Then follow that to Bradenton and make a sharp turn west onto the 64. This road will lead out to the 789 that connects many islands and keys to cruise across.
Before venturing down across the keys, you might fancy yourself a slice of local seafood. Located at nearly the northern tip of Anna Maria Island is the incredibly well-reviewed Sandbar Restaurant. Sandbars tidal past swells back to 1911 and makes its rocky way through fires, various owners and a number miss-matched concepts. Today it serves up some of the areas best seafood. Try the swordfish sandwich and get your hands on the focaccia bread with pesto and olive oil dip to get things started.
The views on this strip are spectacular as you get the bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. On the drive, you’ll come across the Longboat Pass and Fishing Beach. As you pass along this bridge, you can look out over Beer Can Island. Pine Key or Beer Can as it’s more affectionately known is a favorite place for local boaters to stop and enjoy a couple of cold ones. Nice to see, but unless your bike can swim, you aren’t likely to be joining the boaters.
The Lido Key is the final of the keys connected by this strip of the 789, and it will pop you out at Sarasota. Before jumping right into the busyness of Sarasota, you’ll want to park up and stroll through the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This small 15-acre gardens have a mini-desert and is packed full of orchids and palms. There is even a gift shop, café and food truck onsite if you want to sit and take it all in for a while.
Image: @clydebutcher. The interactive Canopy Walkway the takes you over the gators and into the forest
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to Fred C. Babcock/ Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area – 44 miles
From Sarasota, you can keep riding the coasts island and key hopping, though we might suggest taking the 72 into the wild landscapes of the Myakka River State Park. Here in Myakka Park you’ll be welcome to a whole host of activities and sites to see along with an array of wildlife.
Inside the park, you can go horseback riding, take in one of the many hikes including the Canopy Walkway that takes you up over the forest. You can also drive a number of the roads along the way and enjoy getting deep into the forest. Camping is available at six different sites, and you can fall asleep in the park’s forest and scrub setting, all to the sounds of the parks Roseate Spoonbill or maybe a splashing gator.
As you continue to ride on, driving in straight lines are possible, but road trips are more fun if you zig-zag from one great attraction to another. In this case, you should exit Myakka Park and make your way towards Arcadia, but before getting there make your first turn going south on state road 769 down towards the Fred C. Babcock/ Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area.
The Webb Wildlife Area is another lush existence of the areas greatest showcases of nature. This Wildlife Management Area is over 80,000-acres of wetlands, forest, and recreation area. You can get in on the bass fishing at the 395-acre Webb lake. Or, go looking for feral hog, mourning dove, whitetail deer, and gator. It’s also a birders paradise if you’ve got a lens for shooting the Red-cockaded woodpecker and sparrow that live here. If you’re into a different kind of shooting there is a gun range on site, and that activity gets taken into the bush during hunting season. Beware of the time of year.
Image: @darleenstamps. A great shot at the vibrant looking Spoonbills inside Myakka River State Park
F.C.B & C.M Webb Wildlife Management Area to Everglades National Park – 132 Miles
After the F.C.B & C.M. Webb Wildlife Management Area make your way south towards the 41. On this road, we will cut our way into some of the most southerly points of the United States, and into one of its most treasured ecosystems.
The 41 will eventually make its way deep into Florida’s amazing, Everglades National Park. The Everglades Park is the third largest in American and sits on 1.5-million acres of natural preserve that was rescued from development in the 1930s. With rare species like the Florida Panther, West Indian Manatee and American Crocodile calling the preserve home. To add to this, nearly 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, close to 350 species of bird, 40 species of mammal and around 50 reptile species are here. The area is alive with incredible nature.
In and around the park there are many activities you can put down the kickstand for and enjoy. Make sure to brush up on your Everglades knowledge with a stop in at the Ernest Coe Visitors Center. The place is full of information, displays, and videos you can watch all about the Everglades.
In the park, you can take tours, rent a canoe and wind down the waterways, or hike some of the vibrant trails like the Mahogany Hammock Trail. The hike includes a short boardwalk that takes you past the oldest living Mahogany tree in America. Or, if you can’t get enough of the sound of an engine, check out an airboat tour or ride your bike on one of the parks side roads. For those of you are looking to park up and spend the night there are some camping options at various points within the park.
Image: @floridasportfishing. A relaxing day at the Everglades for some sandy camping
Everglades National Park to Miami Beach – 44 miles
After all this wildlife you’ll be able to switch gears and check out the oceanside wild-life on Miami beach. If you’ve come this far treat yourself to a congratulations lap up and down the Miami beach strip. You’re likely fully aware of what to expect here and might as well peel off the biker jacket and kick back to enjoy the people watching over an ice-cold cocktail or refreshing glass of your favorite malt-based beverage. Check out The Broken Shaker, Pizza Rustica, or Wet Willie’s to get your eyes in on the action.
South Florida has bottomless biker options and roads you could drive on with anything from your BMW R1200GS to some off-roading on your Honda CRF450L. Get out and explore them and be sure to make the wetlands and Everglades in south Florida one of your top spots to see on two wheels.