Hop in the car headed north on I-95 and in about 75 minutes you’ll arrive in the Palm Coast area, one of Florida’s finest destinations for unspoiled beauty and easy beach respites.
19 miles of uncrowded coastline are the first reason to visit. The beaches and surrounding Atlantic waters provide an endless array of activities from fishing to surfing to simply doing nothing at all sprawled out on a beach chair. But Palm Coast also boasts great restaurants and loads of fun outdoor activities.
Here are some suggestions to consider for your next romantic getaway:
Arrive at Hammock Beach Resort, a sprawling oceanfront property located 23 miles south of St. Augustine and 84 miles north of Orlando. While visiting this stunning hotel, guests have access to 2 championship golf courses, a water park, an indoor pool, full-service spa, a fitness center and several restaurants.
Suites, which range from 1-bedroom with kitchenettes to 3-and 4-bedroom with fully equipped kitchens and washer/dryers, are beautifully decorated and many come with balconies offering spectacular ocean views. Villas are also available for rent.
For late summer and early fall, rates fall as low as $139/night for 1-bedroom suites. Florida residents also can apply a 10% off discount to their stay. For a full description of specials, visit www.hammockbeach.com/specials-and-packages/featured-packages.
After you’re settled, consider grabbing a quick bite at the hotel’s sushi restaurant or by the pool before heading out to the Golden Lion Café, voted one of Florida’s top beach bars by floridabeachbar.com. This local favorite is known for its fried fish, Key Lime pie and extensive offering of beach cocktails that perfectly pair with the tiki bar milieu. Expect great ocean views, friendly locals and live beach bands on weekends.
Afterward, take a wander down the Flagler Beach Pier. There’s a $1.50 fee but the sunset views over the ocean will be totally worth the nominal charge.
Grab a quick bite in the hotel or via room service and then head to the beach. Hammock Beach Resort offers all of its guests beach chairs and umbrellas (included in the resort fee). The huge beach here is pristinely clean and feels like a private haven even during busy weekends. Note: Food and drink service is offered by the pool only so you’ll have to head back to the resort for snacks, etc.
If you’re keen to stay on property, consider the following onsite activities:
– Book a massage at the spa
– Rent cruiser bikes from the activities desk (extra fee)
– Hit the putting course and practice your golf skills
– Join a volleyball game on the sandy course by the water park
– Take a yoga class at the Fitness Center
– Play tennis at the Tennis Center at the Yacht Harbor Village
If you’re interested in exploring the area, take a drive to downtown Flagler Beach where you’ll find lots of kitschy shops and casual eateries.
If you happen to be in town on a Friday or Saturday morning, check out The Flagler Beach Farmers Market where for more than 33 years shoppers have taken their pick from a huge section of fresh Florida produce, seafood, plants, honey, baked goods and handcrafted work.
For lunch or dinner, consider the following top-rated area restaurants:
Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill
1848 S Oceanshore Blvd
Flagler Fish Company
180 S Daytona Ave
202 S Central Ave
2123 N Hwy A1A
5862 N. Oceanshore Blvd.
** Rated by TripAdvisor as the best BBQ in the state of Florida and in the top 10 in the nation.
Looking for a little starlit adventure? You can join the Full Moon Hike at the Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and by the Intracoastal Waterway on the west, this state park offers a monthly, ranger led stroll that's free with park admission ($5 per vehicle) but requires advance reservation. The next hike is scheduled for September 27, 2015. Details and tickets here. Call 386-517-2086 for questions or assistance.
You might also want to join the sunset kayaking trip offered by Ripple Effect Eco Tours. Once the sun sets, the kayaks light up to help guide your way. Cost is $55, which includes all equipment.
More lazy beach or pool hours are sure to be in order but know that there are several area attractions worthy of consideration.
Marineland Dolphin Adventure
This intimate experience gives guests the chance to interact with dolphins in the oceanfront theme park dedicated to education, research and rehabilitation.
Paddleboard on the Intracoastal
Tropical Kayaks in Palm Coast offers a free lesson with every stand up paddleboard 2-hour rental ($20). Afterward, you can head out onto the Intracoastal for an easy paddle.