I hadn’t considered stopping at Flagler Beach until one of my local AAA travel experts suggested it. Who better to help plan a road trip than a representative of the American Automobile Association (AAA)? I watched her whiz through central Florida and up the coast of northeast Florida on Google maps, rapidly selecting roads and stops along the way. Pause…”I think I’ll route you through Flagler Beach.”
The goal was to enjoy both Scenic Route A1A and Amelia Island. The only question was, “at which point should we hop back onto I-95 for the purpose of saving time?” Our official route started in Daytona Beach and traveled along FL-A1A up the east coast of Florida to Crescent Beach, before cutting west about 6 miles on FL-206 to reach I-95.
About halfway up to Amelia Island, A1A passes through Flagler Beach. Due to a late start, we had to skip Daytona and take I-95 straight there. Exiting 95 onto Old Dixie Highway, we passed through old plantation ruins, wetlands, and scrub jay habitat on our way to A1A. Then suddenly, the scenery opened up and the Atlantic Ocean appeared before us like a revelation, stretching for miles in both directions. Unobstructed views of the ocean like this are extremely rare in Florida these days. Flagler Beach, however, looks much like it did in the 1950’s due to a 35 foot height limit imposed on new construction. There are no high-rise beach hotels here—only bed & breakfasts and a great ocean-front view for all to enjoy.
The attractions consist of miles of cinnamon-sand beach, waves (for surfing), state parks, nature preserves, and a small downtown. The fastest way to see Flagler Beach is to visit its pier and enjoy the view while having lunch at the Funky Pelican, a casual seafood restaurant. It was the perfect stopover on our way to Amelia Island.
I had the Fish Mac, a fishy homage to Mcdonald’s Big Mac, with “two fried fish fillets, secret sauce, lettuce, pickles, onions, and cheese on a three layered bun.” It tasted like a Big Mac and a Fillet of Fish sandwich made love, had a baby, and named it Fish Mac. Delicious! One of my friends let me sample her Grouper & Grits, one of the Funky Pelican’s specialties, pictured above. In this dish, fried grouper nuggets in Cajun cream sauce surround a pile of grits, topped with Key Lime-marinated onions and fresh cilantro. This one belongs in the Florida seafood hall-of-fame. The Funky Pelican is definitely one of the best casual seafood restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of dining at in the state of Florida. Warning: Once you bring your friends here, they may not want to leave.