Best Scenic Drive (1999)
Fort Lauderdale to Lake Okeechobee by levee
This is not a road AAA wants you to know about. Nor does it appear on most maps. But there it is in all its potholed glory, a hidden gift from the South Florida Water Management District that has long been a favorite of bird buffs, hunters, canal fishermen, and drug smugglers looking for an out-of-the-way landing strip. A Jeep or truck is preferred but not required. Head west from Fort Lauderdale on I-595 and turn north on U.S. Highway 27. Stock up on strawberry Yoo-Hoo and pork rinds (or the drinks and snacks of your choice) at the Sawgrass Recreation Park. Then proceed to the Palm Beach County line and pull a U-turn where the sign says "Holey Land/ Rotenberger Wildlife Management Areas." From here head west again on a road that stays paved for the first five miles and turns to gravel for the next ten. When a big pump station appears, you have reached the Miami Canal, a hydrologist's wet dream that runs from the Magic City to Lake Okeechobee. Stick to the road on the east side of the canal and shoot north for the next 30 miles, enjoying sawgrass and sugar cane vistas, big clouds and multitudinous bird life. When at last you arrive in Lake Harbor, drive up on the levee and look out over Florida's inland ocean. Do not, like some careless reporters, forget to top off your gas tank before leaving civilization.