Palm Coast, Florida
This is the place for people who love dramatic natural settings. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway about 35 minutes south of St. Augustine, this golden-sand state park is rocky―covered with coquina, or “sand” that is actually made of crushed shells. Three- to 4-foot boulders of compressed coquina dot the beach. Each rock looks as if it were sculpted by a trained hand.
At low tide, waves pound the rocky coast, making it a place not for swimming, but strolling. Tidal pools attract a variety of seabirds, from herons and egrets to willets and sandpipers. The park’s western edge features a majestic formal garden and a historic home under long-armed live oaks. floridastateparks.org/washingtonoaks