I would go to the individual city forums on your route. If I was going that way I'd use the interstate and drive in in a few hours, not 8 days. So only thoise who live there will know.
Ocala is known for horses if that helps? There are springs and manatees to see as well at Crystal River.
Thanks Amanx, we are on a touring holiday and in no real hurry. Just want see around that area and head back to the beaches at Clearwater for the last few days.
Well the beaches of the panhandle could be worth a look ( your ourte suggested inland only).
A few things that I know of that you may enjoy.
Homosassa State Wildlife Park.
Have a Cuban sandwich at the Museum Cafe.
A meal, or drinks at the Homosassa Riverside Resort. Overlooking the river, and Monkey Island http://www.riversideresortsbanquet.com/
Don Garlits' drag racing museum in Ocala.
Thanks guys, great suggestions, keep them coming !
Another thing to do is get a map of Florida (hope you're one of those who can still read a paper map, lol) and use the tertiary roads (not primary or secondary) which are the ones indicated by the thin black lines, to get from A to B. Doing so will take you to and through some very small towns (the real Florida) some without any traffic lights or even a McDonalds restaurant - now that's being really "out of it".
Cedar Key is very much off the beaten path. No way to get there on a major interstate. Some people think it is great, other people ... well, not so much (I am a not so much person). It is a very small community. It is not a place for beaches (more like coastal mud flats), more for fishing. It is okay for a day visit (again my opinion).
Cyrstal River is larger and it's main claim to fame, is seeing Manatees.
Please remember that in February the Panhandle will be cool, if not cold.
South of Tallahasse is St. Marks Lighthouse and also St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. You might also like to visit Wakulla Springs State Park.
Ok, the route from Cedar Key to Tallahassee is US Hwy 19 (not the interstate) but this a really long boring stretch of road.
The good beach areas of the Panhandle begin around Panama City Beach and go west.
About a month ago you asked a similar question and it was suggested that you head south to warmer areas of the state in February. So if I may ask; what is it you want to see in Tallahassee?
Go to Naples or Sanibel Island or Ft. Lauderdale - it will be warmer. And isn't that why you are coming to Florida?
From Crystal River go North on 98 and you can get to Tallahassee, and then on into the Panhandle. Will take "forever" but scenery is wonderful. Personally, I might take Turnpike to 75 to 10 West into Panhandle, and then maybe come back on 98 and do the slow route back around the Panhandle, and then down into Clearwater!!!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Miles and miles of Florida scrub woods with small towns few and far between are not scenic in my mind, esp between Inglis and Perry.
However Hwy 98 is more scenic when it is hugging the coast from about St. Marks westward.
Donna, have spent plenty of time down in Naples, Fort Myers. Not really a beach bum, coming from Ireland anything above 62 is good for us in February. just want to see some real Florida - really appreciate your suggestions, many thanks.