Beaches, wildlife, art, history, cars, and rockets—the offerings of the Florida North Atlantic Coast span from relaxing to enlightening to out of this world, and every member of your family can easily find what hits their vacation sweet spot.
In St. Augustine, America’s oldest European-settled city, history is all around, but so are art galleries and white-sand barrier-island beaches. Canoeing or kayaking in Anastasia State Park gets you up close to its wildlife-filled tidal marshes, or you can hike its leisurely Ancient Dunes Nature Trail. For racing fanatics, the speedway is Daytona Beach’s prime draw, but there are also numerous museums to explore, restaurants serving freshly caught blue crab, and the chance to spot dolphins and manatees from atop a paddleboard, not to mention its popular namesake beach. Just 15 miles south lies New Smyrna Beach, a low-key destination with a quaint shop-filled main drag and the pristine, peninsular Smyrna Dunes Park, where pets are welcome.
No science buff should miss a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, at Cape Canaveral, where you can get nose-to-nose with rockets, interact with astronauts, and perhaps even witness a liftoff. And in Cocoa Beach, get ready to surf, regardless of your skill level; local surf schools and mellow waves are an ideal combination for getting your feet wet. And once you’ve mastered some new board skills, treat yourself to lobster or mahi-mahi at one of the town’s seafood hot spots.
Daytona Beach has become synonymous with motor sports—the city is the headquarters for NASCAR and the Grand American Road Racing Association and home to the Daytona International Speedway.
PHOTO: Getty Images
The Ultimate Guide to Florida’s Atlantic Coast
Soft sand beaches, outdoor activities and some of the world’s freshest seafood—all and more are on offer from artsy St. Augustine Beach down to trendy South Beach.
BY BROOKE PORTER KATZ
If the Atlantic Coast has an art and antiques capital, St. Augustine is it. Fifty-eight miles north of Daytona Beach, the oldest city in the country (est. 1565) is flush with galleries. They keep their doors open until 9 p.m. during the monthly First Friday Art Walk. The town of St. Augustine Beach itself sits on the barrier island of Anastasia, home to white sand and St. Johns County Ocean Pier, where you can pick up a fishing pass, bait and gear.