Contributed by Tom Quinn, Mercedes-Benz Club of America Central Florida
Is it possible, that when you live somewhere long enough, you start to lose sight of what’s in your own backyard? Have you ever heard someone say “There’s just nothing to do here!” indicating the need to hop a plane to somewhere, anywhere, more interesting?. That’s exactly what I heard the other day in line to checkout and I couldn’t help but think about the dizzying amount of things to do in the Orlando and surrounding coastal areas!
Once you exit the cities, the Florida backroad scene is simply amazing. Miles and miles of twisty, two-lane, pothole-free, well marked roads passing through small town after small town, an endless supply of owner-operated bars and restaurants available to feed or fuel your continuing adventure. If you have all day, we have the roads. If you only have a few hours, well, we’ve got that too!
One of my favorite rides is the Ormond Loop! Starting beachside where West Granada meets A1A, head north following the map I’ve included below. You can, of course, start from any point and simply loop around until you’ve seen it all. Your first visual treat is along ten miles of highway that parallels the coast, often with unobstructed views of the Atlantic and it’s beaches. Here you will see natural dunes, and plenty of beachside vegetation. There are a number of pull-off areas as well, so bring your sunscreen and plan a walk on the beach.
About ten miles north of the start, you will see the Ormond Loop sign, tempting a turn eastward, away from the lure of the ocean. Take it, and after crossing a small drawbridge, the scenery will begin to change. Drive slowly! It’s curvy back here, and you don’t want to miss a thing!
Soon, dense forest begins to surround from both sides of the road, and from above, a canopy of ancient live oak trees shades your way. Some of these plants are enormous. It looks old, almost prehistoric. At one point when I stopped to take pictures, I was certain that Chris Pratt would emerge from the forest, T-Rex in pursuit!
Winding for several more miles, a return to civilization begins, and before you know it, you are at the intersection of North Beach St and West Granada, home to the beautiful Rose Villa restaurant. Valet the car around back, and once inside, head upstairs to Upstairs! The ambiance is reminiscent of a speakeasy, with low lighting, rich woods and an intimate bar.
Hopefully, there’s still some adventurous spirit left from your journey around the loop! And speaking of adventurous spirits, try this bars specialty, Absinthe! Your bartender will guide you in selecting the desired brand – smoother for the novice, stronger for the brave at heart! Then sit back and watch the magic happen as chilled water passes over a sugar cube, both sweetening and diluting your beverage in just the right way. Then, relax and sip on this historic cocktail – but only one, as the drive home awaits!
The Ormond Loop only takes about forty-five minutes to complete, and many people go around for a second viewing. Sometimes the best things are right in our own backyard!