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So you’re planning a Florida road trip? With two-dozen official scenic state highways and gorgeous vistas around every corner, the Sunshine State’s road trip possibilities are as unique and plentiful as shells on a beach. With your personality in mind, here’s primer to finding the perfect fit.

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The Bucket Lister: Overseas Highway

You’re the kind of traveler who has to check every iconic adventure off their list so naturally you’ll gravitate to Florida’s—make that the South’s—ultimate road trip. Fuel up in Miami with some strong Cuban coffee at La Carretta in Little Havana, before hitting the road. Your first stop should be a morning snorkel adventure at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo followed by lunch over conch fritters at roadside icon Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen. Next, continue the adventure into Islamorada with a stop at Theater of the Sea, a mom-and-pop marine park where you can cross off a few more bucket list items, like swimming with dolphins and feeding alligators. As the sun sets, cross the famous 7-mile bridge and make your way to Key West. It’s been a long day, so dig into Caribbean shrimp pasta at Mangoes while people-watching on Duval Street and strategize how to squeeze in the Southernmost Point, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and Mallory Square tomorrow. Because #YOLO.

Fort Matanzas National Monument |Photo: Rain 0975/Flickr

The Family Guy: A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

You’re the parent who wants to keep the kids entertained without blowing money—and sanity—at a pricey theme park, and this 72-mile stretch of Atlantic coastline is just the ticket. Start in Ponte Vedra Beach with breakfast at Nineteen, an open-to-the-public eatery serving up waffles and golf course views. Next, head to historic St. Augustine to sneak in some education at Fort Matanzas National Monument, trek up 219 stairs to take a selfie atop the St. Augustine Lighthouse, grab an Old-Florida lunch at Columbia Restaurant and wash it all down with a slug of water from Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth. Hop back in the car for the last stretch of your journey down to Flagler Beach pier to watch fishermen, surfers and dolphins. Keep dinner family-friendly at the seafood-and-pizza spot Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill, then get ice cream cones on the pier for a sweet finish to the day.

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Ocala pasture. Photo credit: Christopher Stadler/Flickr.

The Country Girl: Horse Country

You’re doin’ 15 in a 30, and your other car is a John Deere. Saddle up for a ride through the Central Florida county of Marion, 40 square miles of prairieland whose farms have been turning out prize-winning thoroughbreds for nearly a century. Check out a jumper show at Florida Horse Park or schedule a carriage tour with Horse Country Carriage Company, where you’ll explore a farm, interact with horses and add on a wine and cheese picnic for lunch. From here, it’s only 25 miles to Ocala National Forest, so head east to where things get even more idyllic. Enjoy the eye candy of scrub pines, listen up for woodpeckers, and when you’re ready to stretch your legs, hike a slice of the Florida trail or take a dip in chilly Juniper Springs. Next, dry off and head to dinner at Blackwater Inn for dinner, a casual spot on the St. Johns River that ushers you back into civilization with a surf-’n-turf menu and live entertainment on weekends.

Gilbert Park in Mount Dora. Photo credit: Jared/Flickr.

The Romantic: Green Mountain Scenic Byway

You’re an old soul who longs for the days when folks spent lazy afternoons on the porch drinking sun tea from mason jars and Snap Stories weren’t yet a thing. The closest you might come is this 19-mile drive just west of Orlando. Begin in the picturesque town of Mount Dora, known for its antique shops, art festivals and independent eateries. Get an early start with biscuits and gravy at the Highland Street Cafe, then spend a few hours browsing vintage finds at Renninger’s Twin Markets. Next, stroll along the Lake Apopka Boardwalk at Oakland Nature Preserve, where butterflies, birds and tortoises add to the ambience. Because there’s nothing romantic about eating at a chain restaurant, for dinner head to Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market, a food hall with everything from coal-fired pizza to small-batch beer and artisan ice pops.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. Credit Phillip Pessar/Flickr.

The Tacky Tourist: Broward A1A Scenic Highway

You’re That Person—the one with the selfie stick and the Zagat guide and the orthopedic sandals. But you’re on vacation and you’ll probably never see these people again, so go ahead and do you along this 25-mile stretch of South Florida’s Atlantic coast. First, grab a pastry in Pompano Beach at the Dandee Donut Factory—you’re on vacation; carbs don’t count. Continue south to the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Beach Pavilion, where you can lounge in a neon Adirondack chair and challenge your mortified travel companions to a giant game of Connect Four. From here, head farther south to Fort Lauderdale. Do lunch on trendy Las Olas Boulevard, photograph every inch of the historic Bonnet House and Gardens and board a water taxi (the city is home to 165 miles of navigable waterway) with no particular place to go. Lastly, make your way to the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, where you simply must rent a bicycle before you order the Cheeseburger in Paradise at Margaritaville.



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Pour your favorite pumpkin-flavored beverage into a travel mug. It’s time to hit the road and check out some jaw-droppingly gorgeous fall foliage.

The Berkshires

We could fill this entire list with places in New England, but this western Massachusetts region gets top billing for having an entire festival celebrating autumn colors—the aptly named Fall Foliage Festival. This year’s event is Sept. 23 to Oct. 2, kicking off peak leaf-peeping time, which happens during the first few weeks of October. Start your visit by attending the oh-so-quaint Fall Foliage Parade, then drive the 55-mile-long Mohawk Trail, teeming with rolling hills, gurgling streams and Native American history.

The Berkshires: This is about as "fall" as it gets. The pumpkins are not the focus of this image - just look at those rolling mountains covered in gorgeous fall foliage. Credit Ogden Gigli via Massachusetts Office of Tourism/Flickr.

The Berkshires: This is about as “fall” as it gets. Credit Ogden Gigli via Massachusetts Office of Tourism/Flickr.

Gold Coast, Michigan

Start in Traverse City, and drive for more than 250 miles of beauty along the Lake Michigan shore, through Northport and Frankfort. Stop for apple cider at Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove Farm and in St. Joseph to ride the Silver Beach Carousel. Late September to mid-October is the best time to see these fall hues.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Begin in Roanoke, Virginia, and drive south toward Asheville, North Carolina, for a show-stopping landscape of bright yellow hickories, orange sassafras trees and brilliantly red swamp dogwoods. There’s no shortage of things to do along this 469-stretch of the national park system, from exploring the bustling Harrisonburg Farmers Market in Virginia to climbing Chimney Rock near Asheville. Mid-to late October is a good time to catch plenty of color; leaves change hues at the highest elevation first.

Maybe they should rename it the Red Ridge Parkway, thanks to all those vibrant red trees. Credit: Sarah Zucca/Flickr.

Maybe they should rename it the Red Ridge Parkway. Credit: Sarah Zucca/Flickr.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

You could spend a week exploring the Ozark Mountain Range, which stretches through Arkansas and Missouri. But to focus your trip, head to Arkansas’ Slymore Scenic Byway, which fully lives up to its name. The 26.5-mile stretch is packed with colorful mountain views. While you’re in the area, explore Blanchard Springs Caverns and watch as pioneer life is reenacted at Ozark Folk Center State Park; the park’s live bluegrass performances make a perfect soundtrack for your trip.

The Ozarks: Don't even think about putting a filter on this gorgeousness, which features rolling, green mountains peeking out from behind some red foliage. Credit Nancy/Flickr.

The Ozarks: Don’t even think about putting a filter on this gorgeousness. Credit Nancy/Flickr.

Green Mountain Byway, Vermont

Even the name sounds like a breath of fresh autumn air. This 11-mile stretch spans between two mountain ridges, surrounding drivers with golden and orange maple trees. The trip starts in the resort town of Stowe and ends, conveniently, in Waterbury—home of the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour. Because it’s always ice cream season.

We'd stow away for a trip to Vermont's Green Mountain Byway - just look at that bright orange fall foliage. Credit:

We’d stow away for a trip to Vermont’s Green Mountain Byway. Credit:

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

For a fall road trip that’s not overrun with tourists, the West Coast might just be the best coast. In addition to fall foliage (and yes, it changes colors), this 70-mile stretch offers vistas of waterfalls, monuments, bridges and gorges. The route is home to several wineries, so commemorate your vacation with a souvenir bottle or two. Late October is a good time to catch the leaves in all their glory.

Wahkeena Creek and it's gorgeous fall foliage is just one of the many jaw-dropping sites along Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. Credit Ian Sane/Flickr.

Wahkeena Creek is just one of the many jaw-dropping sites along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. Credit Ian Sane/Flickr.

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Tagged: Family, FREE!, Seasonal