The Sunshine State's 500th anniversary is the perfect excuse to take a picturesque 110-mile road trip from Fernandina to Flagler.

Elizabeth Pointe Lodge
Credit: Imke Lass

Call him the original Florida tourist: This year marks the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's arrival to the land he called La Florida, "the Land of Flowers." Launch an exploration of your own down State A1A with this 110-mile coastal drive flanked by palm trees and expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean. With stops in St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, and the iconic town of Flagler Beach, you'll feel like you're going back in time. But there are plenty of trendy tapas joints and chic boutiques to keep you grounded in the 21st century.

1. Best Fishing Village with Flair
Downtown Fernandina Beach offers historic brick-lined streets alongside new eateries. Try the Camerones at Don Quixote's ($7; and lobster corn dogs at 29 South ($12;

2. Best Arrr-peritif
On Amelia Island since 1903, the Palace Saloon, the oldest continuously operating bar in Florida, serves a mean Pirates Punch.

3. Best Reader Deal
The cozy Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is offering readers 20% off a stay Sunday-Thursday and 15% off Friday and Saturday the month of January. (Use code SLDEAL.)

4. Best Glimpse of Old-Old Florida
Hunt for shells during low tide at Little Talbot Island State Park, one of Northeast Florida's last undeveloped barrier islands.

5. Best Ferry Tale
The 10-minute ride on the St. Johns River Ferry takes visitors between Fort George Island and Mayport Village. A one-way trip costs $6.

6. Best Old-World Flavor
St. Augustine's Bon Ami Confections serves made-daily macarons ($1.85 each).

7. Best Treasure Hunt
Take home a bracelet made with gemstones found only in Florida by artist Laurel Baker ($68).

8. Best New Florida Fare
The Floridian's Cheddar cornbread topped with fresh catch and pickled veggies (market price) proves to skeptics that Florida is indeed Southern.

9. Best Photo Op
Sure, the sun sets over the land, but locals still flock to the Flagler Beach pier to celebrate sundown.