Your best vacation growing up – what memories stand out most for you?
The freedom? To sleep in, lie in the sun, eat junk, and while away the day with no schedule?
Or was it the whir of activity; riding waves on a rented beach raft, furiously racing your sister on your spider bike, screaming on a roller coaster?
Or maybe the sensory memories are more evocative for you; the smell of Sea-n-Ski, the scratch of Mom rubbing it into sandy skin. The hiss and aroma of burgers and dogs on the grill, the cold damp wrapper you peeled off that ice cream sandwich?
You’ll find all those good old days delights as if no time has passed at all. Oh, except for the roller coaster. There are no roller coasters here. In fact Flagler boasts “No hi-rises, arcade games, wax museums or roller coasters.” I can live without ever going to a wax museum, and I hate high rises, but a roller coaster would have been kind of fun…
A boogie board or stand up paddle may replace those old-school rafts from 1979, and that spider bike (did yours have a banana seat, too?) may be long gone, but the simple, sweet days spent in Flagler Beach will make you feel young again.
With only three traffic lights, a traditional town square, an iconic fishing pier built in 1925, and plenty of non-chain restaurants, shops and motels, this was the perfect, small-town weekend respite we needed.
Flagler Beach has a history very similar to many Florida beach towns – where yes, you guessed who: Henry Flagler – ran his railroad through the town. This modern mode of transportation made citrus, cattle and travel more available to other parts of Florida.
Earlier, in 1866, a different millionaire Henry – Henry Cutting – built a vacation lodge, with Florida’s first in-ground swimming pool, which still stands today. We didn’t go look at it; it was too far from the beach and we were too busy eating junk and whiling away our day. If you go there, you can report back. More info here.
Flagler Beach was first named Ocean City, which resonates with me, as my best childhood vacation memories all happened in Ocean City, Maryland.
In Flagler Beach just about everything is within walking distance, which as you know makes us happy. Park your car, stretch your legs and get some exercise. And then of course park yourself in that beach chair or in the shade of a tiki bar….
With six miles of public beach you can find your perfect sweet sandy spot.
- PARK/WALK: Parking is along the street overlooking the beach. For now it is free, but I did read where some town officials are talking about putting in meters. Once parked there is a very short walk out onto the beach.
- GO/RINSE: There are public restrooms at The Pier.
- CROWD FACTOR: Flagler is a popular destination during the weeks of Spring Break (mostly in March, also around Easter) but most of the time the vibe is slow and low; relaxed and uncrowded.
- GUARDS: From Memorial Day to Labor Day near the Pier. During Spring Break they bring in a “skeleton crew,” according to MyNews13.com, here.
- IMBIBE: You may bring alcoholic beverages out onto the sand.
- BEST FRIEND: Dogs are not allowed in the area from North 10th Street to South 10th Street, but they are allowed on the beach, leashed, north of North 10th Street and south of South 10th Street. (That is almost a tongue twister!)
- WE LOVE: The cinnamon colored sand, and the relatively mellow waves influenced by the many sand bars.
501 N. Oceanshore Blvd.
I had to laugh out loud when I read a review online “The name is terrible lol. The name seems like an old Chinese buffet type place.” Did you look at it? Did you read the sign? The name originated from the owner’s father who had a restaurant in England called The Golden Lion.
- VIBE: Bustling, bright and funky. Gorgeous views of the ocean across the street, especially from the second floor outdoor deck.
- ARRIVE: By car, by bike or on foot. Or pull your boat up at the Moody Boat Launch, which is on the Matanzas River (the Intracoastal), and walk the .7 miles to The Golden Lion.
- SIT: Lots of fun choices besides upstairs outside. By the Tiki Bar, the Raw Bar, or in Adirondack chairs outside downstairs.
- SIP: Happy Hour 3 – 6 p.m. every day.
- NOSH: I had the pesto grilled shrimp tacos – yum – and we tried their Award Winning Fish and Chips, and yes, they were worthy of an award! This place has soooo many awards, besides being “The Most Awarded Restaurant in Flagler County”; check out the rest on their website.
- LISTEN: Live music Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
- WE LOVE: The views, of course (are you tired of me always saying “The views”?) and all the fun events: Wine Wednesdays, Reggae Sundays, and Full Moon Parties.
(which means “Sure, why not?”)
2480 North Oceanshore Blvd.
The one thing that wasn’t within easy access of the downtown was where I wanted to stay! I know I know; I’m always yammering on about walking everywhere, being able to toddle home from The Bar to The Bungalow, and not driving whilst drinking. (I’ve been wanting to use that word, whilst. ) But what you can do here, is BYOB to their on-site Tiki Bar!
- VIBE: Quirky, cottage-y, artistic, FUN, welcoming, homey.
- WALK: The beach is right across the street, and a 7 minute walk south will take you to Java Joint (breakfast and lunch) and Turtle Shack Cafe (lunch and dinner.)
- DECOR: Creative, tropical, eclectic.
- SLEEP: Cozy and clean rooms and beds.
- EXTRAS: Hammocks outside of every room, laundry facilities on premise, horseshoe pit, free coffee, microwaves and fridges in some rooms, kitchenettes in others, the intracoastal waterway at the back of the property where you can kayak or stand up paddle board. You can rent boards at Si No Como, along with beach chairs, bikes, surf boards, skim boards and boogie boards.
- WE LOVE: Rooms 7 and 8 are “loft-style” with a bunk type bed up above. (Three beds in all.) Also, Si No Como is pet friendly!
More charm around town:
And some more colorful cottage/bungalow style homes:
Along with a few fixer-uppers:
As usual, I took a slew of photos and I am in love with them all as I am in love with Flagler Beach, but I have to stop this show and tell for today. Words aren’t forming themselves well for my sign-off, so I’ll just leave you with this last photo that sums this old-timey, back to the simpler days beach town.
What other Florida beach towns give you that nostalgic feel, the hearkening back to your best summer vacation? We want to visit more old-fashioned gems just like Flagler Beach.
Flagler Beach is on Florida’s East Coast, 25 miles north of Daytona Beach and 35 miles south of St. Augustine.