Flagler County/Palm Coast
One of Florida’s premier beach destinations, Flagler Beach’s 6-mile stretch of sand is refreshingly free of big crowds. The area’s earthy, visitor-friendly vibe is a world apart from its brash sibling Daytona Beach, located 21 miles to the south. A quick hop from Flagler, the marshlands and estuaries of laid-back Palm Coast have been hailed as the most productive ecosystem on the planet. The area’s aquatic attractions and manicured fairways entice travelers seeking a lush and carefree getaway.
A spin north along the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, from Flagler Beach to Palm Coast, delivers gorgeous ocean vistas as well as access to Florida’s classic experiences, like white sand beaches, superb seafood dining, eclectic galleries and world-class golf courses. Visitors can delve into Florida’s history at the Palm Coast Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, which preserves the vestiges of a former plantation along a picturesque walking trail, including a sugar mill, a spring house, several wells and slave cabins.
Marine life encounters have been a cherished tradition for over 80 years at Marineland, north of Flagler Beach. Guests get a chance to swim with dolphins at the Marineland Dolphin Adventure.
Healing the Turtles
At the nearby Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab, visitors can tour a facility where injured and sick loggerhead and green sea turtles are rehabilitated and then returned to their ocean habitat.
The Real Thing
With a carefree surfing culture, classic fishing pier, eclectic shops and colorful beach shacks, Flagler Beach revels in its no-nonsense, left-of-field vibe. Right on the waterfront, High Tides at Snack Jack has been around since the 1940s and is a destination unto itself, with superb seafood served in a super casual waterfront setting.
Palm Coast Pleasures
With its relaxed beachside vibe and restaurants for all tastes and budgets, the only chest puffing that you’ll encounter in Palm Coast is around the subject of golf. Palm Coast has gained kudos nationwide for its beautiful fairways that offer prime golfing conditions and gorgeous vistas. An immaculate mosaic of links surrounded by wetlands and pristine lakes, the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course at Hammock Beach is ranked as one of the nation’s best.
Trails and Reflection Ponds
With more than 125 miles of trails, Flagler County is a launching pad for hiking and biking activities for all skill sets. For a pleasant stroll or a leisurely bike ride, Waterfront Park’s 20 acres are woven with tree-shaded pathways that flank the Intracoastal Waterway where manatees, herons, egrets and dolphins can be spotted. A former plantation dating to the early 1800s, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a luxuriant confection of formal gardens and reflection ponds overlooking the Matanzas River. Several short trails meander through a picturesque oak hammock and alongside the park’s eye-catching shoreline, which is formed by ancient coquina rock formations.
Riding the Swamp
Graham Swamp Preserve is home to ”The Swamp” mountain bike trail where some 6.7 miles of natural and man-made features challenge all skill levels. A series of steep climbs, sharp drops and switchbacks traverse swamp, flat woods, rocky hills and dense forest.
Ecotours of the marshlands and estuaries of Palm Coast invite opportunities for close encounters with resident species and birdlife, including the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron and osprey along the Great Florida Birding Trail. Just south of Flagler Beach, the Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area has a lovely beach and an inland waterway that you can explore via kayak, and keen anglers can cast a line for red drum, whiting, flounder and trout from the banks of the river or the beach. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is another popular location for kayaking and dolphin spotting in the Matanzas River estuary.
For More Information
Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches