Biking Daytona and Beyond

Embark on an east coast bike trip from motorcycle mecca Daytona through small towns and past historic sites.

While motorcyclists from around the world come to Daytona Bike Week primarily for the action along Main Street and its immediate environs, Florida's highways and byways offer plenty to see and do for those willing to venture beyond the borders of Daytona Beach.

Northern Exploration

To the north lies St. Augustine, and from the nexus of activity in downtown Daytona Beach, one merely needs to follow North Atlantic Avenue into Ormond Beach and stay the course to get there.

Entering Ormond Beach, hotels give way to palm trees along what has become Route A1A, and storied multi-unit lodging is replaced by multi-million dollar single-family homes. Airborne gulls ride the currents with the free-spirited nature of a biker on the open road.

In Flagler Beach, even the dunes eventually disappear and the view to my right is an unimpeded panorama of waves coming ashore from the horizon. A sea breeze blows in, a cool constant that makes the ride even more refreshing. 

Pressing on toward St. Augustine, the town of Summer Haven is picture-book perfect, and a trip down "Old A1A" along the beach is a must.

Another detour beckons at Fort Mantanzas National Monument. Here, visitors are ferried to the outpost for hands-on exploration led by a guide in period costume. Admission is free, and boats leave the dock every hour on the half hour.

Historical St. Augustine

My next stop is the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum - sightlines from atop the 165-foot, 219-stair tower afford terrific views of the harbor, and accessing the lookout provides a bit of a workout as well.

Want to rest your weary bones once you've reached St. Augustine? Being lazy has never been as easy as on the grounds of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument: its grassy embankment is the perfect place to relax and watch boats in the harbor.

St. Augustine's Colonial Spanish Quarter is a pedestrian maze of shops, eateries and attractions such as the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in America. Nearby, a four-room house carved out of a fallen Redwood tree in the parking lot of the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum whets one's appetite for the oddities inside.

Rural Routes

A few quick turns lead to Route 16, your passageway to Route 13 - the treat of this trip. Canopied by soaring moss-covered trees that run along the St. John's River, it alternates sweeping esses with straight-as-an-arrow stretches that demand a twist of the wrist.

At the junction of Routes 13 and 207, there's a crab shack nestled on a bend in the river just before the road takes you through farmers' fields and small towns. Palatka, at the intersection of Routes 207 and 17, is the first from St. Augustine to offer all services, so be aware of your gas gauge.

Drive south on Route 19 to enjoy the solitude of Ocala National Forest. If you've opted for all the pit stops listed, the sun will be dipping toward the horizon, so head east on Route 40 to return to Ormond Beach.

Around Orlando

North of Orlando lies Winter Park, whose stony Park Avenue is a brick-lined runway of boutiques and art galleries. Follow it to the end and relax as someone else takes the helm for an hour-long boat tour of the area's notable estates.

East on Route 44 takes you to New Smyrna Beach, where turning north on Route 1 brings you full circle. A final detour to the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is worth a dash up the stairs to watch the sun set and gain a new perspective on Daytona.

Interestingly, no matter how far from Main Street one roams, "Bikers Welcome" signs appear almost everywhere; it's this hospitality that keeps people coming back to Florida year after year.

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