These six sensational Miami scenic drives entice visitors and residents with South Florida’s best nature, waterfront views, beaches, and culture. Our favorite Miami Florida drives are ideal for relaxed outings or active day trips.
Growing up in Miami and learning to drive there has given me the opportunity to know the the fun back roads, driving shortcuts, and routes with the best scenic views.
The following Miami drives offer outdoor heart-pumping experiences, authentic Old Florida cuisine and culture, and chances to get away from it all and explore different and more naturally enjoyable environments than cruise terminals and traffic packed roads.
Plus I suggest where to find the world’s best key lime pie (you will be surprised).
Miami scenic drives are welcome anytime during the year but are particularly appealing on crisp late autumn mornings before the snowbirds have arrived. Relax, take it slow, and enjoy the journey. Put down the convertible top, don your favorite sunglasses, and get rolling.
Here are a few tips about our Miami scenic drives:
- These scenic drives in Miami range from waterfront roads to long stretches without stoplights to dirt roads—really, we know some unpaved roads in South Florida! Some are loop drives and some are one way. Click the map link to see our suggested route and choose your starting point. McCool Travel tip: select the option to avoid Tolls.
- Distance and time estimates are from Google Maps assuming normal traffic. Adjust time for stops and serendipitous detours (highly encouraged!).
- Routes range from 8 to 81 miles but you can easily combine them for longer day trips.
- It is hard to reach all of the scenery without including some major roads but our routes minimize and avoid congested areas when possible.
- No drive is scenic during Miami rush hours. These drives are best enjoyed on weekends, early morning, evenings, or between 10am and 3pm on weekdays.
- The last section has tips to avoid tolls when driving around Miami.
See also our recommendations for scenic drives in South Florida (including Miami, Key West and the Florida Keys).
Miami Scenic Drives: Nature and Wide Open Spaces
1. South Florida Waterfront and Downtown Miami Views
Map: Miami Waterfront Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 23 miles one way; 1 hour 20 minutes
Theme: Best Miami waterfront views
Activities: Driving on causeways, beaches, scenic views, walks, parks
This Miami scenic drive crosses overwater causeways, maximizing waterfront potential and views. It visits several of the islands in and near Miami—including Miami Beach, Virginia Key, and Key Biscayne. This drive is wonderful at night so you can see the twinkling Miami city lights and stroll beaches alongside shimmering moonlit water.
Things to Do on the Miami Waterfront Scenic Drive
- This drives starts at the southern end of I-95. Look for signs to turn left onto Rickenbacker Causeway (this is a toll road but there is no other road to Virginia Key and Key Biscayne).
- Stop along Rickenbacker Causeway and park among the beach pine trees. Great views of the colorful Brickell Avenue condos and downtown Miami. William Powell Bridge is one of highest spots in South Florida and popular with bicyclists. Hobie Island Beach Park and Rusty Pelican for more views and parking spots. McCool Travel tip: bring baby oil (buy a $1 bottle at Publix or Eckerd) in case you get oily sand on your feet (it happens maybe 1 out of 10 visits for me).
- Virginia Key Outdoor Center, Virginia Key Mountain Bike Park, and Virginia Key Beach Park are wonderful for hiking and playing. Miami Seaquarium is a popular attraction with sealife education and shows—I used to work at the NOAA facility across the street. Cross Bear Cut on the Bear Cut Bridge and turn around at Crandon Park Marina—but you can spend hours exploring Key Biscayne. Bear Cut Sandbar is cool for wading but watch out for sea urchins.
- Optional Key Biscayne: Crandon Park, Cape Florida (built in 1825), Nixon Florida White House, Stiltsville might be visible offshore.
- River Walk Trail between Brickell Key Drive north to Brickell Point and Miami River. Stop at Miami Circle, a historic landmark and archaeological site.
- This scenic drive bypasses downtown Miami but Bayfront Park, Miami Freedom Tower, and Maurice Ferré Park are nice highlights before heading onto Macarthur Causeway.
- Drive around Star Island and look at some of the world’s most expensive homes. Just ask the guard if you can drive around.
- Ocean Drive in Miami Beach is the cool place to be seen. During peak periods—like Saturday nights—it is faster to walk than drive. Between 5th Street and 14th Street is the best part of South Beach with no buildings on the ocean side. Colony Hotel and Crescent are two favorite buildings for art deco architecture. News Cafe is a local Miami Beach favorite for food and people watching.
- Drive back to Miami on Venetian Causeway and end this scenic drive at Margaret Pace Park on the water.
- Wynwood is very near—join drive #4 below.
2. Natural Florida and Endless Skies
Map: Everglades Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 81 miles one way; 1 hour 35 minutes
Sights: Everglades views, nonstop drives (a rarity in South Florida)
Activities: National Park, hiking, biking, air boat ride, wildlife
This scenic drive along the western edge of settled Miami and through the Everglades offers wide open spaces and natural Florida scenery. This drive is most convenient if you are starting northwest of Miami—in Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Miami Gardens, or Broward County. Our directions start at the north end of Krome Avenue and the intersection with US 27—about 10 miles and 15 minutes from I-75 (Pines Blvd exit).
Things to Do on the Everglades Scenic Drive
- Many of the airboat and commercial locations along Tamiami Trail (US 41) are operated by the Miccosukee Native American Tribe.
- Spend time learning about the Everglades at Shark Valley. I guarantee you will see many gators or I will refund the price you paid for this article.
- Visit the historic Ochopee post office, which is the smallest post office in the United States. McCool Travel note: this was my grandparents post office for over 25 years; they lived about a mile away in the heart of the Everglades. Now you see why I know my Miami scenic drives.
- Explore the Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City. McCool Travel tip: one of my favorite floors (#Floorida) in the world is in this building. The 1930s Dade County pine was damaged in hurricanes but has been lovingly restored.
- Stop at the Smallwood Store in Chokoloskee and imagine this being the other place where residents could buy items until the 1940s.
- On the way back east to Miami, stop at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center and then Big Cypress Oasis Visitor Center, which is the southern terminus of the Florida Trail.
- An easy dirt road to get off the beaten path is in Ochopee. Turner River Road (839) to Wagon Wheel Road (837) to Birdon Road (841). Every time I have driven this loop, I have seen at least one giant rattlesnake on the dirt road.
- Loop Road is a potentially rugged road and it is best to check with the Big Cypress rangers for current conditions. I have always seen at least one gator in the middle of Loop Road at some point.
- Suggested places to eat include City Seafood in Everglades City and Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe in Ochopee.
- Combine with Southern Everglades Drive below for long day.
3. Southern Everglades Scenic Drive
Map: Southern Everglades Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 67 miles one way; 1 hour 25 minutes
Sights: remote and pure Florida nature, gorgeous Everglades scenery, fresh agriculture
Activities: National Park, wildlife, hiking, biking, boating, farms
This scenic drive is most convenient if you are starting south of Miami. Our directions begin at US 1 and Palm Drive, near where the Florida Turnpike (toll road) ends. To do this South Florida scenic drive after the above Everglades Scenic Drive, drive south on Krome Avenue for 22 miles (about 40 minutes).
Things to Do on the Southern Everglades Scenic Drive
- Kick off this Miami FL scenic drive with a key lime shake at Robert Is Here. Also check out their produce selection, including exotic tropical fruits.
- Stop at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center
- Explore the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm Visitor Center
- Drive to the end of the southern Everglades at Flamingo Visitor Center. Marina Store has food, supplies, and boat rentals.
- Eco Pond Trailhead is short loop walk and Guy Bradley Trail is short one way walk. Coastal Prairie Trailhead and Christian Point Trail are longer one way walks. Bear Lake Road is a dirt road leading to trailhead to Bear Lake’s Beach (remote). McCool Travel tip: Bring bug spray for all walks.
- After leaving the park, visit Knauss Berry Farm (popular cinnamon rolls and fresh produce) and Schnebly Redland’s (USA’s southernmost winery, try the tropical fruit wines).
- If more time, head to Card Sound Road (stop at Alabama Jack’s) and Key Largo (eat at Mrs. Mac’s). But make sure you drive on Card Sound Road in either or both directions.
- Coral Castle is a quirky South Florida attraction, built in 1920s under mysterious circumstances; allegedly only supernatural magnetism was used to move multi-ton rocks.
- McCool Travel note: southern portion of the Everglades is the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles share the same habitat. Add manatees and dolphins and sharks to the equation and it really is a fun and unique ecosystem.
Miami Scenic Drives: History and Culture
4. Miami Art and Culture
Map: Wynwood and Calle Ocho
Distance + Time: 8 miles one way; 35 minutes
Sights: vibrant street art, Cuban history/culture, Miami’s oldest buildings
Activities: photo spots, eat, drink, sightsee
Start this Miami scenic drive in Wynwood by exiting I-195 at Miami Avenue—or continue from the above Miami Waterfront Scenic Drive.
Things to Do on the Miami Street Art and Cuban Culture Scenic Drive
- Explore and take photos of the amazing Wynwood Walls street art murals. Be sure to drive and/or walk the side streets.
- In Wynwood, visit and support independent small business—including art galleries, craft breweries, food and craft shops.
- In Lummus Park (Miami’s first park from 1909), see the William Wagner House built in 1850s and the Fort Dallas barracks from 1844. The Scottish Rite Temple, across the street, is over 100 years old.
- In Little Havana, order a Cuban coffee, pastry, and/or sandwich, watch a passionate domino game or old timers discussing beisbol, shop for authentic Cuban (well, Americanized a bit) crafts and foods.
- Stop at the walk-up window at Versailles for a Pastelito de Guayaba (guava pastry) and pour yourself a cup of the coldest water on planet Earth (from the classic 5 gallon yellow Igloo cooler with the red cover). This is also a great spot for that Cafe de Cubano (Cuban coffee) and—McCool Travel tip—the best key lime pie I have had in South Florida.
One great Florida Instagrammable photo spot in Little Havana is the above street art wall mural, where you can even practice social distancing.
McCool Travel tip: The classic South Florida Cuban restaurants Versailles and La Carreta have locations in Miami Airport and the prices are the same as at their Little Havana spots. Fantastico!
5. Historic South Florida
Map: South Miami Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 19 miles one way; 1 hour 4 minutes
Sights: spectacular trees, architecture, “country road”
Activities: classic Old Florida attractions, photo spots
Explore Spanish and Mediterranean architecture, amazing banyan trees, and the classic areas of Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and Old South Florida along Biscayne Bay on this historic South Miami drive including Old Cutler Road.
Things to Do on the South Miami Scenic Drive
- Start at the Coral Gables entrance gate at Red Road (57th Avenue) and Coral Way (24th Street). The Red Road to LeJeune Road portion of Coral Way is particularly nice.
- Worthy detours in Coral Gables include Venetian Pool, Alhambra Water Tower, The Biltmore Hotel, University of Miami, Merrick House, Ponce de Leon fountain. For more Coral Gables scenic highlights.
- Vizcaya is one of the most popular Instagrammable spots in Miami, for wedding, engagement, graduation, and other photo opportunities.
- Miami City Hall, at Dinner Key Marina, was once home of Pan-Am airlines and has beautiful historic artwork. Many wonderful parks and waterfront trails here will entice you to spend a lot of time. Try Monty’s Raw Bar for lunch.
- The Barnacle and Charlotte Jane Cemetery are two magnificent Coconut Grove scenic and historic stops. The Barnacle preserves and demonstrates South Florida life prior to 1900 and Charlotte Jane Cemetery is where many original settlers (especially from Bahamas) are buried. Also, you may recognize it from Michael Jackson’s The Thriller video.
- After driving across the Coral Gables Waterway and through the rare (in South Florida) traffic circle, enjoy Old Cutler Road—South Florida’s finest example of a country road. Worthwhile major stops include Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Deering Estate but I always find countless reasons to stop along the road or side streets for fascinating trees, scenery, historic signs, or other funness.
6. Quirky, Unusual, and Weird Miami
Map: North Miami Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 17 miles one way; 48 minutes
Sights: quirky buildings, urban oases, nude beach
Activities: photo spots, hiking, boating, biking, beach
The quirky Miami sights on this drive include a movie set town, Florida’s most famous nude beach, the oldest building in the New World (Western Hemisphere), and some surprising city parks.
Things to Do on the North Miami Scenic Drive
- Weird Miami trivia #1: While Coral Gables and south of Miami has distinct Mediterranean design, one quirky South Florida was designed with hundreds of Arabian buildings. Enter a fantasy world of Ali Baba and Arabian Nights in downtown Opa Locka. Before visiting, please read my article about Opa-Locka because there are two essential tips you must know. McCool Travel note: I grew up in Carol City (now called Miami Gardens)—the town north of Opa Locka—so this is “my hood.”
- Weird Miami trivia #2: Amelia Earhart started her round the world flight attempt from the Opa Locka airport. Nearby Amelia Earhart Park is a wonderful urban retreat for a trail walk or run, water sports, mountain biking, and more. McCool Travel tip: parking on weekdays is free!
- Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach dates back to 1936 and retains a lot of Old Florida charm. The hardwood hammock is natural and a rare throwback habitat. You might even see a crocodile. Yes, a croc here in the land of gators.
- Weird Miami trivia #3: impress your friends and family. The oldest building in the USA (and the entire western hemisphere) is the fascinating Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach. Discover why a monastery built in 1141 is located here.
- Grab lunch at Laurenzo’s Italian Center in North Miami Beach. While waiting for your order, check out the walls of photos of Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra, and other famous (and not) South Florida visitors.
- In Arch Creek Park see the natural limestone bridge and other evidence that Tequesta Indians inhabited this area prior to the arrival by Europeans in the 1500s.
- Oleta River State Park is the largest urban park in the state of Florida and is a phenomenal escape for kayaking/SUPing or off-road bicycling.
- Haulover Park features a marina where most South Florida deep sea fishing excursions launch and a super popular beach—popular with families but also with a clothing-optional section (the oldest nude beach in Florida).
- Optional: Continue driving south through Bal Harbour (Miami’s version of Rodeo Drive), historic Normandy Isles, back to Miami Beach.
For more Miami FL scenic drives, please see The 8 Best Scenic Drives in South Florida
Music to Listen to During Your Miami Scenic Drives
Add the following artists and songs to your Miami Scenic Drives playlist to maximize your experience.
Musicians from Miami include Gloria Estefan, KC and the Sunshine Band, Pitbull (“Welcome to Miami” is a good song to start your first drive), Flo Rida, Enrique Iglesias, DJ Laz, Diplo, Rick Ross (explicit), 2 Live Crew (very explicit).
Of course, add to your Miami Scenic Drive playlist songs like Miami from Will Smith (also Miami by U2), I’m in Miami Bitch (by LMFAO), Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami (Jimmy Buffett), and Moon Over Miami by Ray Charles (from upstate Florida).
Tips For Avoiding Tolls From Miami Airport
Miami Florida is notorious for its toll roads but in this section I will help you navigate your way around Miami by avoiding those toll roads. Especially when leaving Miami airport, with a rental car, it is a confusing journey for most first time, and even repeat, visitors. Since rental car companies issue customers a SunPass surcharge “convenience” fee, it may cost you $25 extra to pay a toll of $1. Highway robbery at its finest. McCool Travel tip: make sure your rental car toll transponder box is closed or blocked or inactive.
Whether you plan to visit South Beach, Calle Ocho, the Everglades, the cruise terminal (Port of Miami or Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale), or drive other Florida road trips to discover some Instagrammable Florida spots, the prevalent signs when exiting the Miami airport try to guide you to toll roads. McCool Travel tip: on your GPS or SmartPhone app, select the option to avoid toll roads.
Avoid Dolphin Expressway, 112, Gratigny Parkway (924).
When leaving Miami airport, ignore the directional signs pointing to Dolphin Expressway, 195, or the Turnpike. Instead, drive south or north on LeJeune Road (aka 42nd Avenue or SR953). When going to Opa-Locka (starting point of the above Miami Scenic Drive #6), driving north on LeJeune Road is faster than the toll roads and you do not have to pay money. Sweet.
To drive to Miami Beach from Miami Airport, it is an extra 15 minutes drive to skip the toll roads so you can decide whether that is worth the extra $25 rental car surcharges plus the toll. Downtown Miami from Miami Airport is perhaps an additional 10 minutes on non-toll roads.
McCool Travel tip: if you are a frequent Florida visitor, consider purchasing a transferrable SunPass. That way you can use your own toll pass in your rental cars. Just make sure you remember to remove it from your rental car when you return it. I do this with EZ-Pass, which works in many eastern US states (but not Florida, alas).
We hope you enjoyed our Miami scenic drives and encourage you to discover your own South Florida road trips.