I discovered Flagler Beach on March 5, 2016 while driving through the welcoming beach-town during a March 3 – 11, 2017 A1A road trip with my friend Patty Morrison. (Access www.arnoldheller.org/travel-writing/Florida-A1A-Trail:Six-special-places-in-sunshine-state.
My first sight was of an endless stretch of beach that extended for miles along the ocean side of the shore road with virtually all hotels, restaurants, commercial establishments and residences lining the roadside. The only exception is the long pier and adjacent Funky Pelican ocean-side restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Both are located in the center of the town, virtually ground zero.
A bonus is that the oceanside development mode continues for several more miles in to Ormond Beach, the next town on A1A South. I was so impressed with the low rise, beach focused village that I promised that I would return and spend a night.
And I did on Dec. 21, 2018 and stayed at the Topaz Motel on A1A (Ocean Shore Boulevard). Although not fancy, the rooms are clean and comfortable plus they have cable and Wi-Fi. I found the management to be friendly and helpful but the great surprise was the hotel restaurant, the Island Grille & Bar, which has a surprisingly good kitchen and fine service.
My room was directly across from the beach, perhaps a fifty-foot stroll across the street. (Farthest left unit located in front of yellow car). The next picture, taken at 8 AM with fishing pole in sand – not mine – describes my view.
Flagler Beach is accessed by I-95; take State Road 100 East and the place becomes visible upon crossing the bridge over the Intracoastal Canal. Any exploration of the low-rise, low density and spacious town begins at its heart: Beachfront pier, central square, and Second Street.
The central square is an attractive public space for gatherings. An arts and crafts festival had been scheduled for that day with vendor’s tents visible at right. More were going up as I walked by them.
The next main street running parallel with the beach boulevard contains the commercial center and corridor.
The Flagler Beach Museum incorporates the town’s history with its role as part of the Space Coast.
The pier is the heart of Flagler Beach. People sit, stroll, fish, eat or stare at the ocean. The Funky Pelican restaurant is visible at far-left bottom. Public rest rooms are to right.
For seaside dining and drinking, the Island Grill, Finn’s Beachside, the Anchor, Johnny D’s and others offer an array of dining and drinking experiences. Some have rooftop decks that provide fine views of the ocean and town.
This yellow residence with its retainer walls brightly covered with pictures of local icons was my favorite home on Ocean Shore Boulevard.
Beach front property demands a high premium; however, if you live a block, two or three from the beach, Flagler Beach becomes more affordable. While exploring the town, I discovered a well-kept jewel of a trailer park that backs up to a sweet park, a nature-preserve and the Intracoastal Canal. To me the quality of life for people living on modest or fixed incomes was exceptional by any standard.
Tennis-courts and other park amenities are a stone’s throw from the community. The nature preserve with boardwalk is a short distance to the right.
Flagship Harbor – Phase Two – is upgrading the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve.
The boardwalk provides easy access to the Mangroves and inland canal.
The inland canal provides a beautiful backdrop to a classic beach town that has resisted the intrusion of high-rise condos and hotels.
When in doubt about what to do in Flagler Beach, fishing is usually a good choice. These two gentlemen shared that they had caught numerous good-sized fishes.
Or enjoy the beach as the people below did on a December day with a high of 58 degrees. The sun was strong though and if layered in dress, the weather was comfortable.
I plan to return to Flagler Beach some day and linger. The town reminds me of the Bradley Beach, NJ, that I spent summers as a child but with all modern amenities such as bike trails, parks, and walk up dining and drinking that today’s Millennials demand from municipalities and urban centers.
Florida, in my opinion, is a state that is blessed with dozens of special places and Flagler Beach is one of them. Seven other special places in the ‘sunshine state’ are similarly described on web site www.arnoldheller.org .