When my friends said they wanted to go on a road trip, but we could stay in the state of Florida, I had to get a little creative. So I thought about it, and decided to look into roads that run along the coastline, because that’s where all the beaches are. Florida A1A immediately occurred to me as a great choice. First of all, I’ve already driven a section of it, so I know it’s scenic. Second, in addition to all the beaches, FL A1A also passes through St. Augustine and Amelia Island, two of Florida’s most popular vacation destinations among Florida residents.
Together, St. Augustine and Amelia Island represent both the beginning and the end of Spanish colonization of Florida. St. Augustine was the first permanent European settlement established in the United States, in 1565, earning it the nickname “Old City.” Amelia Island, by contrast, was the last Spanish colony established in Florida, back in 1811. Together, these cities form Florida’s First Coast, because it was the first coast of Florida to be colonized by the Europeans. For this same reason, this area is also referred to as Florida’s Historic Coast.
In addition to great history, Florida State Road A1A delivers a lot of great beaches. Just south of St. Augustine, we have Crescent Beach, Washington Oaks State Park’s natural beach, Jacksonville Beach, Flagler Beach, and Daytona Beach, all sitting pretty on A1A. All of this clustered together on a ~100 mile section of FL A1A makes for one hell of a Florida road trip. You’ll probably have to pick and choose, as we will be doing, but here’s a map and a short description of each of these destinations to help you on your merry way up Florida’s east coast.
Visit the main public beach by the pier and have a drink/bite at The Funky Pelican—it’s right on the pier. If you have extra time, check out the Ocean Art Gallery on Ocean Shore Blvd and the Gallery of Local Art on South Central Avenue.
Washington Oaks State Park
I didn’t even know about this place until a St. Augustine local told me about it. It’s well-known for its gardens and the natural coquina formations on its beach. Coquina is the stuff the Spanish used to build their forts with in St. Augustine and beyond.
I could probably spend a week visiting all the historic forts and homes in St. Augustine. Instead, I keep coming back and trying new things. Check out my September 8, 2015 post, “Today in History, The Florida Edition,” for a quick overview of things to do in St. Augustine.
Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach
There are so many beaches on Amelia Island that I’m still struggling to decide which ones I want to visit. The same goes for places to eat and places to visit within the 50 block historic district. Like St. Augustine, this place deserves its own post.
The end…or just the beginning
While this marks the end of this blog post, it marks the beginning of my great FL A1A Road Trip. Be sure to follow along as we travel up the east coast of Florida, taking pictures along the way.