Near the center of town, anglers cast their lines from a long fishing pier where three state-record fish have been landed. Farther down the shore, breaking waves send surfers in wet suits skimming across the water like tightrope walkers in overdrive. A number of the country's best surfers have honed their skills in Flagler Beach, including four-time world champion Frieda Zamba.
Some of the few remaining right whales in the world also frequent these coastal waters in winter. "When they are seen, everyone passes the word," says Jay Humphreys, communications director at the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau.
It's late afternoon by the time I reach Ormond Beach. I cut through to the Old Dixie Highway and Old Kings Road to see some of the area's other attractions. The massive Fairchild Oak--one of the largest live oaks in the South--spreads its branches at Bulow Creek State Park. At nearby Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, ranger Danny Quantz points the way to a section of the Old Beach Road used by travelers in the early 1800s. It runs for a mile, enclosed by a leafy tunnel of hickories, sweet gums, cabbage palms, and live oaks that's barely big enough for a car to pass through. "Tourists often stop and take pictures," Danny says. "Many people say they've never been on a road like this before."
There's so much more to see here, it almost makes me wish I was a snowbird. Then I could stay all winter long like so many of them do. Hey, anyone for a swim?
For more information: Contact the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau, 88 Riberia Street, Suite 400, St. Augustine, FL 32084; 1-800-418-7529 or www.visitoldcity.com.
This article is from the January 2003 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.