(Photo courtesy of Joe in DC via Flickr)
I’m mighty partial to this 6-mile stretch of bronze-tinged sand between the thrills of Daytona and the quiet beauty of St. Augustine. I lived here not too long ago. I got sand in my shoes everyday—something I’ve yet to shake. These days, when I want to go somewhere out of the way yet near all sorts of interesting side trips, I pick this place.
The laid-back nature of Flagler Beach is generally quiet. That changes
during Bike Weeks in Daytona when the roar of Harley Davidsons takes
over the roads. The other 50 weeks of the year are punctuated by the
rhythmic pounding of the Atlantic washing upon these shores and the
cries of ospreys as they grab fish from the ocean. In the winter,
manatees swim in the Tomoka River, while right whales calve offshore.
In spite of the developments to the north and south, Flagler remains a
sleepy beach town. Old Florida is alive and well here and I like it
Flagler, unlike every other beach on the east coast, has almost no
development on the ocean side. Instead, A1A snakes alongside the dunes,
giving drivers a clear view of sunrise and moonrise. On the Fourth of
July, fireworks shoot up from the city pier. One year, I watched the
local pyrotechnic show while Mother Nature matched it with horizontal
heat lightening in the background.
Snack Jack’s sits in a crusty screened shack on the south end of
Flagler Beach. Known for great fried oysters with a sea breeze and a
cold beer, it’s my favorite spot to end the day. (Map)
Growers from across Central Florida fill the square every Friday for
the farmers market. This time of year look for Zellwood corn—the
sweetest, freshest corn grown in the state.
Follow A1A past Snack Jacks, and turn right on Highbridge Road. Cross
the Tomoka River, and follow its marsh to Walter Boardman Highway. Turn
left and drive under a live oak canopy to Old Dixie Highway, a couple
of blocks east of I-95. Turn left and drive a half-mile to see
Fairchild Oak in Bulow Creek State Park—the largest live oak in the
Most Surprising Beach in Florida:
While I adore Flagler’s sands, a surprise awaits just 20 minutes north.
Drive A1A past Palm Coast’s Hammock Dunes development to Washington
Oaks State Park. On the Atlantic side you’ll discover coquina rocks
reaching from the high-tide line out into the ocean. At low tide, it’s
the most unusual picnic spot I’ve found on Florida’s East Coast.