Northeast Florida’s highway A1A hugs the Atlantic Coast along the barrier islands and just begs for a leisurely drive. From St. Augustine on the north to Daytona Beach and Interstate 4 in the south, the road passes through historic and modern Florida’s highly varied attractions.

Historic attractions along this pleasant drive include the first city in America, St. Augustine, the national monument at the site of Fort Matanzas and the undeveloped natural Florida of Washington Oaks State Park. All are worth a visit.

Modern Florida beckons A1A travelers as well. Upscale resorts, waterfront homes and condominiums are found along the highway, interspersed with superb ocean views. There are interesting cities to visit as well, including

the kitschy beach front Flagler Beach and cosmopolitan Daytona Beach, both of which offer myriad attractions and beach access.

In the middle of these 57 miles of coastal road is burgeoning Palm Coast, a fast-growing planned city of more than 75,000 that was founded in 1969. Just across a bridge over the intra-coastal waterway from Palm Coast is a barrier island that is home to the beautiful Hammock Beach Resort. But after exploring Palm Coast, don’t rush over the bridge to get to the resort because adjacent to the bridge on the mainland side is the fascinating European Village center with residences, shops and eateries that look and feel European.

Once you cross back onto A1A and the barrier island, you will find that the Hammock Beach Resort is worth exploring because it offers attractions for the whole family, including villas and suites to rent, several restaurants, golf, spa, waterpark, swimming pools and tennis. It is also a popular meeting and wedding venue. Because it is about midway between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, it is also a good starting place for scenic day trips north and south along the coastal highway.

Getting there

The Palm Coast, Hammock Beach and Flagler Beach area can be reached by highway, rail, air and cruise ship.

• By air: Major airports are Daytona Beach International (DAB), which is 37 miles away, and Jacksonville International (JAX), which is 83 miles away.

• By train: Amtrak stops in Palatka, Fla., 40 miles away with service from Miami to the northeast U.S.

• By car: Palm Coast, Hammock Beach and Flagler Beach are off I-95. Florida Highway A1A runs north and south through these barrier-island communities.

• Cruise ships sail from Jacksonville, 72 miles away and from Port Canaveral, 103 miles distant.

For a short stay

• The facilities at the Hammock Beach Resort.

• The kitschy waterfront at Flagler Beach.

• The European Village shops and restaurants in Palm Coast.

For a longer stay

• A walk around Washington Oaks State Park.

• The Marineland Dolphin Adventure.

• Fort Matanzas National Monument.

• A scenic drive to and around historic St. Augustine or maybe an overnight stay there.

• A drive to Daytona Beach.

• An overnight excursion to Jacksonville.

At a glance

Relaxed beach access. Full resort pampering, golf and good restaurants at the resort and along the coast.

Mobility Level: Low. The coastal plain is very flat. Some beach access points have steps.

Travel tip: Rent a large suite and bring the family to Hammock Beach Resort for a reasonable per-person price and a lot of included amenities Take day trips from there.

When to go: Florida is good for visitors year-round. High season and high rents are in the winter. Autumn and after Easter are fairly hot and humid, but prices are lower in the region and crowds are absent.

Where to stay: For luxury and amenities, choose Hammock Beach Resort. Chain hotels and many B&Bs at a wide range of prices are also scattered throughout the region.

Special travel interests: Beaches, seacoast.

Before you go

• Visit bit.ly/2PPmyVr

• Visit flagler.com


Jeffrey Orenstein and Virginia Orenstein are travel writers from Sarasota, Fla.

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