• Janessa

Northeast Florida: Family Road Trip

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

When you think of Florida, you think of beaches, yes. But, do you envision Northeast Florida beaches? Florida beaches have long made the world's Top Ten list. Destin Beach in the Panhandle, Clearwater Beach along the Gulf, and South Beach in Miami to name a few. Poor ole' Northeast Florida usually gets the B-list treatment. You know, if you can't afford the popular places, you go there instead. But, don't discount the Northeast Florida coastal region for your next family vacation or road trip. St. Augustine, Beach was just named No.8 in TripAdvisor's list of the Top 50 beaches in the world! So, c'mon down to my neck of the woods, there's blue skies and beach days ahead! I've planned a coastal drive on Florida's State Road A1A that I think you'll love. I'll tell you everywhere you need to go, whether you've only got a weekend or 2 weeks, here's a possible road trip itinerary for you and your fam!


kite-flying on the shores of Flagler Beach, FL

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START HERE: Fernindina Beach & Amelia Island (2-3 days recommended)


Start your road trip in downtown Fernindina Beach. It's a quaint small town often overlooked but rich in Florida's coastal history. Walk with the fam along Centre Street, fueling up at Amelia Island Coffee. Spend the day window shopping or meander into the local shops and galleries. If it doesn't coincide with nap time, there's a historic trolley tour that runs at 12:30pm and 2:30pm. Stop for lunch at the modern gastropub Amelia Tavern and pick up a keepsake Florida children's book at the Book Loft. I always have to stop in here when we visit Fernindina Beach. #bookloverproblems

When you're ready to crash, hop on A1A towards Amelia Island. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is a great luxury oceanfront option to stay overnight. As a resort, they have scheduled kids' activities, many restaurants on site, and they also have an island bar next to the family pool. Need I say more? Wake the kiddos up early to watch the sunrise at Big Talbot Island Boneyard Beach. Who are we kidding? They'll be up anyway! And trust me, this is a MUST SEE! Your kids will love the opportunity to climb and explore the barren trees scattered along the beach. They look like dinosaur fossils. If you have your bikes (and any energy left), bike miles next to Florida's A1A on the paved Amelia Island Trail.


Pictured below, from left: (1) sunrise at Big Talbot Island Boneyard Beach is a must see with the family

(2) Downtown Fernindina Beach has a thriving historic district along Centre Street (3) Fernindina Beach is full of local eateries, here I'm holding a delicious breakfast pastry from Nana Teresa's Bake Shop




THEN: Jacksonville, FL (1-2 days recommended)


Yes, I'm asking you to leave the coast and travel inland. The reason? Take your kids to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens! It's the best! We are annual members and my kiddos LOVE it! The exhibits are well-updated, the animals are well cared for, the walkways are beautifully landscaped, and there is a water play park (pack the kiddie bathing suits!) They also just opened up their Watering Hole Beer Garden on the riverfront so win-win for parents and kiddos ;)

Other options for a Jax stop include The Cummer Museum & Gardens for the art-loving fam, Adventure Landing Water Park for a water play day or Sweet Pete's Candy for a family sugar high and guaranteed sticky smiles. To round-out your trip to Jax, I'd suggest munching at many of the kid-friendly eats in Jax. Subscribe below for this upcoming blog post!


Pictured below, from left: (1)our son riding the carousel at the Jax zoo. It is an additional $2 fee per ride (2) The Cummer Museum's gardens are located along the riverfront in the hip Riverside neighborhood (3) The family riding the zoo train, learning about all the exhibits



NEXT: St. Augustine, FL (2-4 days recommended)


I love this historic town! Pack the stroller (or carrier) because this town is all about walking around and seeing the sights. Whether you come for the history or just the charm, there's a lot to see and do. Stroll down St. George Street, stop for slices of pizza and ice cream along the way. Buy your little one a pirate shirt and a vacation souvenir at the countless gift shops. If your feet get tired (or just for the fun of it), hop a ride on the Old Town Trolley. My son thinks trolleys are the bees knees! End one of your days on the riverfront for a gorgeous sunset. And, of course no vacation to St. Augustine is complete without visiting "the fort" aka Castillo de San Marcos. I've profiled vacationing to St. Augustine with kids in this blog post, check it out.

If you want to splurge, take the family aboard the Black Raven Pirate Ship for a live action pirate adventure! It was the highlight of our last trip. The kids get tattoos, practice sword fighting and get to save the day! AND, there are adult drinks because well we earned it! Let's not forget that St. Augustine Beach was just named a world's Top Ten beach! Save a day for more fun in the sun. Apply sunblock liberally!


Pictured below, from left: (1) our son having a blast on the Black Raven Pirate Ship Adventure (2) the fortress, Castillo de San Marcos at sunset (3) Riding the Old Town St. Augustine trolley around town


END HERE: Flagler Beach, FL (1-3 days recommended)


I didn't know Flagler Beach existed until my mom bought a condo here (2 years ago!) And, you know what the locals would say, "that's just the way we like it." This beach town on Florida's A1A is a hidden gem and it's overflowing with local restaurants, shops, and bars. I'd suggest, starting the day with coffee and donuts from Swillerbees. Pick up kites for the kids at Kite Warehouse (across from the pier) and head on out to the beach! You can park right along the main state road and access the beach by multiple ramps. Fun Fact: Flagler Beach's sand is crushed coquina shells which gives it a dreamy orange hue. ENJOY!

PS- Don't leave without stopping for an iced wine slushie (yes, you read that right!) at Flagler Beachfront Winery!


Pictured below, from left: (1) My son playing in the sand during a sunset walk on Flagler Beach (2) there are numerous oceanfront restaurants where you can enjoy a drink and bring the kids, pictured here- The Golden Lion (3) Kites flying high above Flagler Beach


Driving Map: Fernindina Beach, FL to Flagler Beach, FL

Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Total Trip Length: 3-10 days


Suggested Driving Route:

(1) Fernindina Beach----> (2) Amelia Island----> (3) Jacksonville----> (4) St. Augustine--------------> (5) Flagler Beach, FL



Does this get you excited for that Florida sunshine? Maybe you haven't seen it in a while. Well, pack that car and head on over (or down) for your Northeast Florida family road trip. Have any questions about this route? Comment below...


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Many Blessings and Happy Travels,

Janessa

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We're the Martin family and we're in love with family road trips and family travel! We're currently renovating a 1974 Airstream Sovereign so we can continue our family road trippin' adventures across North America! We're hoping to inspire others to pack up and head out on the road! 

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