Everything slows down on the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, minutes east of heavily traveled Interstate 95. From the luxurious golf and tennis resorts of Ponte Vedra Beach to the windswept Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in Flagler Beach, the mostly two-lane road runs between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway linking a string of barrier islands along the northeast coast of Florida. The centrally located town of Palm Coast makes a convenient base from which to explore the sights along the 72-mile byway, but it’s tempting to stay put in this laid-back community. World-class courses built on amazing settings create a golfer’s paradise. Cinnamon-colored sand covers 19 miles of uncrowded beaches. Ancient oaks, towering pines and indigenous plants line more than 125 miles of interconnected biking and hiking trails. Natural charm, protected environments and special experiences make Palm Coast the vacation getaway that feels more like home.


Hammock Beach 

Located in Palm Coast, Hammock Beach is anything but the ordinary Florida experience. Nearly all 330 rooms have private balconies with ocean views, and spacious one-bedroom suites contain tasteful décor, separate living areas and kitchenettes. The massive water park boasts five pools with a lazy river, water slide and poolside bar. One of two courses, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course has six holes alongside the ocean. With 2 ½ miles of private beach, five restaurants and a full-service spa, this destination offers something for everyone. 200 Ocean Crest Drive, Palm Coast, hammockbeach.com


Atlantic Grille

The resort’s award-winning restaurant offers all-day dining service and sweeping ocean views in a stylish coastal setting. The wraparound terrace is a perfect spot for tapas and local craft beers after tennis or golf. Whether fish tacos at lunch or local flounder at dinner, freshly caught seafood and an extensive beverage list make this spot’s shore-to-table experience a must. 105 16th Road E., Palm Coast, hammockbeach.com/dine/atlantic-grille

Captain’s BBQ

Sitting under a thick canopy of oak trees, Captain’s BBQ cooks up some of the best Southern barbecue in Florida. Top-quality meats — beef, pork, chicken and turkey — and sides are slow-cooked in a special wood-burning smoker. Pulled pork and ribs are among the must-have items at this spot accessible by Scenic A1A or the Intracoastal Waterway. 5862 N. Oceanshore Blvd., Palm Coast, captainsbbqbaittackle.com


A mainstay in the historic downtown of St. Augustine, the Columbia is known for award-winning Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. (Think hand-painted tiles and decorative arches.) An emphasis on fresh Gulf seafood makes it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Mojitos and sangria — made tableside — complement perennial favorites including the 1905 Salad, Cuban sandwich and paella. 98 St. George St., St. Augustine, columbiarestaurant.com


Flagler Beachfront Winery

Overlooking the ocean, this upscale artisan winery sits near Scenic A1A. Winemaker Ken Tarsitano, with more than 20 years in the industry, handcrafts wines on-site using the best grapes from select growers around the country. In addition to wines by the glass or bottle, he serves wine slushies — the perfect beach drink on a hot summer day. 611 N. Oceanshore Blvd., Flagler Beach, flaglerbeachfrontwinery.com

Odd Birds Bar

Eclectic best describes this craft cocktail bar tucked away in St. Augustine’s historic district. Within the quirky décor and relaxed atmosphere, talented bartenders have perfected the art of making fresh and small-batch cocktails. A variety of small bites complement the ever-changing menu of rare and unusual beer, wine and spirits.33 Charlotte St., St. Augustine, oddbirdsbar.com


A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

The officially designated American Byway is well-known to history buffs for the many sites dating from the Spanish conquests in the 1500s, but there’s much more to see and do. The byway connects state parks, national monuments, stunning beaches, nature trails and estuaries and offers activities including birding, boating, fishing, biking and surfing. scenica1a.org

Equestrian Adventures of Florida

An increasingly popular way to enjoy the sun, sand and surf is on horseback. Equestrian Adventures of Florida provides lasting memories with guided tours on the beach as well as on many trails throughout Central Florida’s old oak forests and preserves. Owner Jennifer Miko’s horses are well cared for and well trained, and customers enjoy a relaxing and safe ride, regardless of experience. Ormond Beach, equestrianadventuresfl.com

Historic Downtown St. Augustine

Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied city in the United States. Its historic downtown is filled with old-world charm and cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, galleries and restaurants. History comes alive as visitors imagine fighting pirates at Castillo de San Marcos, experience three centuries of Spanish life in the Colonial Quarter or tour the more “modern” Lightner Museum, built in 1888. St. Augustine, oldcity.com

Marineland Dolphin Adventure

Now a dolphin conservation center owned by the Georgia Aquarium, Marineland’s history dates back to 1938, when it opened as the world’s first oceanarium — and Florida’s only theme park for decades. Today, visitors observe Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in their habitats and participate in hands-on exhibits and encounters, which not only educate guests about these extraordinary mammals but also support the nonprofit’s research and conservation efforts. 9600 Oceanshore Blvd., St. Augustine, marineland.net

Photographs courtesy of Columbia Restaurant, Equestrian Adventures of Florida, floridashistoriccoast.com, Hammock Beach Resort and Marineland Dolphin Adventure

More Travel by Trail:

Winston-Salem, North Carolina — North Carolina Barbecue Trail

Athens, Georgia — Antebellum Trail

Louisville, Kentucky — Kentucky Bourbon Trail