Suncoast Scenic Parkway: Pretty and Practical
Where Just northwest of Tampa.
Length: 40 miles.
How to get around: Car. Experienced bicyclists may also enjoy the remote part of the Suncoast Trail that runs along the highway.
Best time to visit: Fall or winter, for roll-down-the-windows driving weather.
Fun fact: Suncoast Scenic Parkway is the only scenic highway that’s part of Florida’s turnpike system.
For more info: Go to floridasturnpike.com.
To get from Point A to Point B, Suncoast Scenic Parkway is a great way to go.
“It goes through a very old, native Florida landscape,” said Daniel Kastelic, turnpike landscape architect. Native pines set the scene for a peaceful drive.
“There’s no real traffic,” Kastelic said of most of the stretch, which passes through the rural suburb of Spring Hill. “It’s a toll road, so there aren’t all that many exits.”
One exit worth noting is FL-50, a.k.a. Cortez Boulevard. That’s where you’ll find Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, which offers canoeing and kayaking, river boat cruises and, most notably, live mermaid shows. Seriously.
If you prefer fun on dry land, then head south to Westfield Citrus Park mall, which offers more traditional amusements like a movie theater, shopping and restaurants galore.
Photos by Brad McClenny for VISIT FLORIDA