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Flagler Beach basics

Want a beach vacation? Here's why Flagler gets top bill: its I-95 exit is closer to the ocean than any other point in Florida. Some call it a beach town, others the quaintest seaside village they know – whatever your definition of scale, it's a community that favors history, nature and 'the simple things'. Namely: outdoor space to enjoy friends and family, plus great food and fish every which way.

The wider Flagler County boasts 19 miles of beach, 44 parks, and 10 golf courses – not bad for "Florida's quiet side". Flagler fans are adamant they've found the best spot on the state's Atlantic coast and, with two five-star, home-made ice cream shops, converts are easily made.

  • 1885: Henry Flagler, a northern oil tycoon, first comes to St. Augustine and begins investing in hotels and infrastructure. These were high society fixtures, where guests wintered (as a verb).
  • 1909: Plots of land are listed for sale. Incredibly, families mail-order their new life in Flagler from the Bunnell Development Company.
  • 1914: Developer George Moody builds the first beach house in Flagler, known at the time as Ocean City.
  • 1915: 'Dixie Highway' is built, starting in Jacksonville and ending at Flagler Beach. Finally, the journey to Flagler is shortened.
  • 1916: Busy as ever, George Moody builds the first casino.
  • 1925: Owing to confusion about Ocean City, NJ and Ocean City, MD, the town has to change its name at the time of incorporation. With a grateful nod to its founder, it becomes Flagler Beach. The very same Mr. Moody becomes its first mayor.
  • 1931: Fog causes an unscheduled plane to land in Flagler. Its pilot is Charles Lindbergh. (See the Flagler Beach Museum (page 102) for the rest of the story – we don't want to ruin all the surprises!)

TRANSPORT

As in Palm Coast, a rental car is highly recommended for the duration of your stay and will really enhance your enjoyment of Flagler Beach and beyond.

VISITOR CENTER

A central visitor center is a great first-stop in town. Helpful staff have tips for entertainment and restaurants, as well as maps, coupons and nature updates. Ten minutes later, you'll feel like a local.

  • Address: 200 S. Oceanshore Blvd. (A1A) across from the pier
  • Keep in mind: Closed Sunday.

SAND, TIDES AND SAFETY

With a very gently sloping shore, Flagler Beach is great for paddling, wading or new swimmers. While shells are scarce, you might find sharks' teeth and the orange sand remains firm enough for running. As along the rest of the coast, currents can be strong and require due caution. If coming in the summer, you'll find lifeguards on duty on Flagler Beach itself. In the winter? You might think twice about a winter swim, anyway!

CARS AND BEACH ACCESS

A relaxed and uncrowded family beach, Flagler is free from cars. Its public access points are understandably more popular on weekends, and parking can be hard to find. Arrive early (with a breakfast picnic?) and you should be in luck. Much of Flagler's access is down beach boardwalks and stairs, should that affect how much you pack for a day out.

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