This is one of those rides that just never gets old. We had just recently arrived at the campground we are staying at and wanted to get a ride in. A quick search of Google Maps and away we went. It turns out we have done this ride 4 times already in only 2 months. After all, who doesn’t like scenic roads and beaches?
We are staying at the KOA in Milton, Florida at the time of this ride so that is where we started. Recognizing that not everyone who rides also camps we will start this ride off at the Tom Thumb gas station about 2 miles south of exit 31 off Interstate 10. Tom Thumb has everything you would need to start a ride off with. Cheap gas, coffee, snacks, and a bathroom.
Let’s Get Started
Let’s get this ride started!!! We made the right out of Tom Thumb and headed south on FL-87. This road took us straight into Navarre. It’s mostly an open road that passes through a couple of local towns. As we headed toward Navarre, we came upon a sign for the Yellow River. There was a nice wide shoulder so we got off the bike and snapped a few pictures of the river.
After getting back on the bike we rode straight to the end of the road. Once we got to the end of FL-87 we made a left turn onto US-98E. There are two left-turn lanes and we suggest staying in the one to the right because you will be making a right turn onto FL-399 which is only a quarter-mile up and traffic could be heavy on US-98E.
The Santa Rosa Sound
As we made the right onto FL-399 we knew we were going to have to find a spot to pull over and grab some pictures. Just ahead of us was a long low bridge spanning the Santa Rosa Sound. Being the photo hounds we are we pulled over before the bridge started to get the Navarre Beach sign and then again after crossing the bridge to get shots of the sound. The shoulder has a short paved piece and then goes to dirt. It is not soft dirt so if you are careful you can pull onto the dirt and be out of the way of the traffic. Make sure you have something to put under your kickstand.
After getting our photos, we got back onto FL-399 and headed south. As you near the end of the road, there is a restaurant and gas station on your right side and Navarre Beach Marine Station on your left. We made the right at the stop sign and immediately on your left side is a parking lot that caught our interest. It looked like a long pier with a set of buildings including the Windjammers On The Pier Restaraunt. We just had to investigate.
The Fishing Pier
Most times we bring our own food on a ride (especially since going Keto) so although it looked nice, we did not stop into the restaurant. We were however interested in the Navarre fishing pier. Since it was a beautiful day, we decided to walk out on the pier. As we neared the pier we realized there was a charge to walk the pier. Since it was only $1 we just had to check it out. There were many people fishing (that was more than a dollar) and others just walking like us. There were a few tables along the way you could sit at and just relax by the water.
If you have some time and are not in a rush, we recommend you stop here and walk out onto the pier. The pier overlooks the Gulf and has some great views. We were even treated to dolphin and sea turtle sightings. Just a great way to spend some time enjoying the Gulf of Mexico.
Do Not Exceed 35 mph!!!
Back out to the parking lot we went. Leaving the parking lot we made a left back onto FL-399. There are numerous large condo buildings lining the beachside and vacation homes on both the right and the left side. The posted speed limit was 35mph and we were forewarned by people at the campground to make sure we did not exceed it.
As we headed down the road the large condo buildings disappeared and vacation homes and rental homes lined both sides of the street. Once we passed them we entered the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This section of the road was a connecting section of the road between Navarre and Pensacola beaches.
Awesome Views Of The Gulf
As we rode through this section we could see glimpses of the Gulf on our left and the sound on our right. We also passed a few national access seashore areas on the left. Of course, we had to pull in and take a look. Each one gave us an awesome view of the Gulf. Two of them have porta-potties and one of them has a building with restrooms in it. That one was closer to the Pensacola beachside.
As we exited the Gulf Islands National Seashore section we entered the Pensacola Beach area. This area starts out with homes and vacation rentals on both sides. We took a detour down one of the side streets and checked out the UFO house which has pictures of aliens in the window.
Strip Shopping Centers & Condos
After getting back onto the main road we came upon some luxury condos on our right. Once we hit these condos we came into a more commercial section with strip shopping centers and hotels. We rode slowly through this area as we could see many people cross the street here to access the beach areas.
Once we made our way past all that we came upon a traffic light. This was Fort Pickens Rd. If you are not in a rush take a left at this road and head down about 2 miles. There you will find a large cross submerged in the sand. This is called the indestructible cross. See our Roadside Oddities page for more information on that. There is also a wooden access bridge that you can walk along the side of the condos and out onto the beach.
English Navy Cove
If you decided to check out this cross just hop on your bike and head back to the intersection and make a left to continue on FL-399. If you didn’t check out the cross just continue on FL-399. We continued through an additional commercial area including more restaurants, hotels, and an adventure park before coming upon a bridge. This bridge took us over the English Navy Cove. Just a quick note, if you do this ride in reverse, you will have to pay a toll heading into Pensacola at the bridge.
We then rode through a more congested area before hitting another bridge. At the time of our ride, there was major construction going on as they were removing an old bridge running parallel to us. This bridge took us over the Pensacola Bay. At the end of the bridge, we took the exit to our right.
Pensacola Welcome Center
As soon as we made our right we noticed a welcome center so we decided to pull in and take a look. It was the Pensacola Welcome Center. We went inside and grabbed a couple of pamphlets and chatted with the employees about cool things to see in the area. They were very helpful and gave us some good ideas. Upon exiting the building we took a walk along the water. We hopped back on the bike and we rode to the back of the parking lot. There is another fishing pier similar to the Navarre beach one.
After checking out the pier, we were back on the road. We made a right out of the visitor center and went under the “Grafitti Bridge” as it’s known to the locals. We rode a few streets up until hitting US-90 and made the right to start heading back. After passing through a small town we crossed over a small body of water and followed US-90 along the Pensacola Bay.
There are numerous water views as you travel along US-90. There are also a couple of small parks that you can pull into and do a nature walk or two. Following along this scenic road we eventually came up an Exxon gas station/Dairy Queen Combo. This was no ordinary gas station/ice cream combo stop. This one had an awesome view of the Escambia Bay at the I-10 crossing. We decided to cheat on our Keto diets and bought small ice creams.
After finishing our ice cream and taking in the view, we decided to head out. We jumped on I-10 and crossed the bridge we were just taking pictures of. Interstate riding is usually a boring ride but this section had us not only crossing the Escambia Bay but also the Blackwater River.
If you are looking for a nice loop ride to do in this area, this ride is well worth it. You can customize it to fit your mood and time constraints. If you are short on time, just ride straight through without stopping. If you have lots of time and want to make a day of it, there are numerous stops you can make for eating, photo ops, and nature trails.
Here is something to keep in mind. We have done this ride mostly in the fall and the traffic has not been bad. I would have to imagine during the summer “peak” months the traffic could be quiet heavy. Whenever you do this ride, enjoy yourself and take the time to enjoy the beauty of this area.
Ride Safe/Ride Often
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