Classic Roads: Florida’s Unique SR 30A

Classic Roads: Florida’s Unique SR 30A
Classic Roads: Florida’s Unique SR 30A

Florida is notorious for its ruler-straight roads. But riding on straight pavement gets much more interesting when you can do it in a picturesque setting. Florida’s SR 30A—the Crown Jewel of the Southern Riviera, as it’s called—is the perfect opportunity to embrace your inner beach bum while cruising leisurely down an oceanfront road.

Over this roughly 110-mile trip from Miramar Beach to Apalachicola, you’ll get to do two stints on roads actually marked SR 30A. The rest of the way, SR 30A follows US 98. You should hit this road in the fall. Summers in Florida can get hellishly hot and humid, and in spring, this popular tourist spot will be chock-full of students on spring break.

The area is popular for a good reason, though. Even if you’re not much for beaches, you’ll get to see gorgeous Florida vegetation, fascinating locations, and stunning ocean views—if you know where to look.

A Beach Paradise

Start your trip by heading east from Miramar Beach on US 98. After some four miles, SR 30A will branch off and head toward the ocean. It’ll last for some 20 miles, so don’t rush. Take things slow and enjoy the ride.

This section of SR 30A flows through long-leaf pine woods, past coastal lakes and grass-speckled white sand dunes. Beachfront properties conceal much of the ocean, but there are plenty of spots to park and take a quick walk on the sand. The middle part of this stretch also skirts the Point Washington State Forest, with varying ecology and rare wildlife. Wildflowers bloom on the roadside throughout the year.

After reconnecting with US 98, you have a choice—you can stay on 98 to get to the next SR 30A section faster, or turn onto SR 30 for more oceanside riding. Either way, you’ll go through Panama City before turning south.

Close to the Ocean

To get on the second SR 30A section, keep heading south after passing Port St. Joe. If the first part was more touristy, here you’ll be in the middle of virtually empty, verdant Florida marshland. Without the beach houses, you can enjoy unobstructed views over Saint Joseph Bay. There’s not much in terms of man-made attractions, but who cares—the ocean’s majesty beats anything humans could build.

After some seven miles, turn east. The next 12 miles of 30A stray farther from the shore into forested areas, but just before getting back on US 98, the road misses plunging into the ocean by just a few feet. You can then end your ride in Apalachicola, or head across the scenic John Gorrie Memorial Bridge for a visit to St. George Island. RR

Points of Interest

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

This is the location to take in the area’s white quartz dunes. The state park has hiking trails going through not only dunes, but also old-growth pine forests, scrublands, and wetlands. There are also opportunities for camping and paddling or kayaking in the lakes or on the open ocean. Entrance fee for motorcycles is $4.

Point Washington State Forest

For even more wild goodness, Point Washington has plenty to offer for hikers and even hunters. The forest’s 27 miles of trails connect to Grayton Beach, Deer Lake, and many other locations. Point Washington is a prime spot for spotting exotic animals and plants, like the gopher tortoise or white-topped pitcher plant.

Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach is one of the oldest oceanfront communities on SR 30A—founded in 1890—and the perfect spot to enjoy the beach vibe. Full of free-spirited folks, the historical village makes for a great lunch spot.

Cape San Blas Light

The Cape San Blas Light is a lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally constructed in 1849, the lighthouse has been rebuilt multiple times for various reasons, like after it was damaged by Union troops in 1862. Unfortunately, it’s on the Doomsday List of endangered lighthouses, so if you want to see the Cape San Blas Light while it’s still there, don’t miss your chance. Find it at 200 Miss Zola’s Dr, Port St. Joe, FL.