OLD FLORIDA TOWNS ON SR-80

By  Mike Miller Updated October 15, 2021

State Road 80 crosses the state from Fort Myers to Palm Beach.  It stretches 123.5 miles from U.S.-41 in Fort Myers to State Road A1A in Palm Beach.

Although the areas close to Fort Myers and Palm Beach have become urbanized and the road widened, there are still long stretches of Old Florida.  

Map of State Road 80 from Fort Myers to Palm BeachMap of State Road 80 from Fort Myers to Palm Beach

You will enjoy stopping at these Old Florida towns as you make the trip.  The towns are arranged from west to east, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. 

The road joins US-27, US-441 and US-98 near the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee, and continues as a combined highway into Palm Beach County.

Towns you go through include Fort Myers, Tice, Alva, Fort Denaud, LaBelle, Clewiston, Lake Harbor, Belle Glade, Wellington, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach. 

You will see cattle grazing land, woods, wetlands, the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee along the way.


FORT MYERS is at the western end of the Caloosahatchee River near where it discharges into the Gulf of Mexico.  The town is noted for its majestic palm trees and as the winter homes of Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford.  State Road 80 begins here at its intersection with US-41 downtown.


TICE is an unincorporated community on the river a few miles west of Fort Myers. About 4,500 people live in the area.  State Road 80 is the main drag through the community, and I-75 is just east of the city limits. There are quite a few fast food restaurants in Tice, including McDonalds, Little Caesars Pizza, Burger Kings and Hardees.


ALVA is a historic town on the Caloosahatchee River that is not named for Thomas Edison's middle name.  It is named for a flower that was a favorite of the Danish sea captain that founded the town.


FORT DENAUD is the site of a former fort on the Caloosahatchee River. Only a few people live in the area close to the swing bridge across the river.  There is an interesting pioneer cemetery on the north side of the river, and a historical marker on the south side that tells the story of the fort.


LABELLE is one of the larger towns along State Road 80 on the Caloosahatchee River.  It has a population of about 4,600 and is the seat of government for Hendry County.  Captain Francis Hendry founded the town and named it for his daughters, Laura and Belle.


CLEWISTON is a town of about 7,200 that was founded in 1920 and incorporated in 1925.  It became well known for its access to Lake Okeechobee and sport fishing, especially largemout bass.  In later years the town supported the agricultural and refining operations of U.S. Sugar Corporation.


LAKE HARBOR is on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee and is tome to about 200 people.  It marks the beginning of the Miami Canal that stretches 77 miles from the lake to the Miami River.


BELLE GLADE is one of the largest cities on Lake Okeechobee with a population of about 19,000.  The town was founded in 1925 and destroyed by a major hurricane in 1928 that killed thousands of people.  Although it is one of the poorest cities in Florida and has a high crime rate, it is noted for having sent many football players on to college and then to the National Football League.


WELLINGTON is a village in the rural area west of West Palm Beach.  It has a population of 65,000 and was named one of Money Magazines "Top 100" places to live in 2010.  Wellington is noted for its equestrian activities with many stables and thoroughbred horses in the area.  The village is home to major polo and dressage events.


WEST PALM BEACH is one of Florida's largest cities with a population of nearly 100,000 people in a heavily urbanized metropolitan area.  The town was originally established as a community for workers in the resorts that Flagler built across the waterway in Palm Beach.

PALM BEACH is one of the wealthiest towns in Florida.  It is on the barrier island and separated from West Palm Beach by the Intracoastal Waterway.  The population of the town is about 8,000 year round, but that number swells to 25,000 during the winter season from November to April.


State Road 80 travels alongside the Caloosahatchee River for than half of its route between Fort Myers and Palm Beach. 

The river forms a part of the Okeechobee Waterway, and system of rivers, canals, and lakes that crosses Florida from coast to coast.

Mike Miller and AWOL, Island Packet 26 MKII, in Stuart, FloridaMike Miller and AWOL, Island Packet 26 MKII, in Stuart, Florida

Read about a sailboat that made the trip across the Okeechobee Waterway under power and sail, with stops in Stuart, Indiantown, Clewiston, and Alva.



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