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A Stay-Cation in my Own Backyard

Jillann Gildea
Jillann Gildea

One of the things I love about living in Flagler County is its close proximity to so many beautiful places. I love that I live minutes from Flagler Beach.   I own a big beautiful home for much less of what it would cost in other counties boarding the beach. Flagler Beach has the closest exit to I95 in the whole State of Florida so I can jump right on it or take US1 South to Daytona or North to St. Augustine. Both destinations are 30 minutes from home!       

Recently I discovered that taking a vacation doesn’t mean hopping on a plane, or hours and hours of driving. We decided to take our vacation right here in our own backyard and what we found was that not only do we live in paradise but there are endless things to do!

This week we hopped in the car and drove along the beautiful Hammock Dunes along A1A and headed north. We stopped for lunch at the Atlantic Grille at The Hammock Dunes Resort and had the most wonderful She Crab Bisque Soup and Hammock Salad both highly recommended by us.  

Heading north on the tree lined windy road we passed through the little town of Marine land and then through the Matanzas Inlet area which views boasts the inlet on the left and the Atlantic Ocean on the right. Fort Matanzas offers tours with free boat rides from the inlet over to it offered on the half hour.    

Thirty minutes later we checked into our room in St. Augustine “America’s Oldest City” at the Casa De Suenos- “The House of Dreams” Bed and Breakfast.  We were greeted by the Innkeeper Kathleen Hurley who made us feel very comfortable. We stayed in “The Cordoba Room” which featured a Jacuzzi tub, a private balcony, and all the amenities you would expect at any 4 star hotels. Breakfast was provided and delicious. One of the best features of this bed and breakfast, one of 23 in town, is that it is close to everything. Step out the door and you’re right on the Romantic carriage route and it is one of only B& B’s that requires no minimum stay!

St Augustine offers trolleys and horse drawn carriages through town, historic tours, world class fishing, sailing, history, beaches, live music, museums and art galleries. Just a walk down any of the streets and you’ll hear great music, taste fine wine and find fine artistic treasures. 

This trip we found two gems that were “must do’s”. 

At 17 Cuna Street is “The Gourmet Hut”, a small little wooden building with jasmine climbing up the exterior.  There is limited seating inside so go early if its cooler out.  On a nice day sit outside and taste the daily menu which is prepared fresh each day. The menu has salads, sandwiches, gourmet appetizers, fine cuts of beef and fresh fish and many vegetarian options.   The wine selections were surprisingly wonderful.  Pricing was reasonable based on the quality and we give this lunch 4 stars!

Finally we toured the “Lightner Museum”, 75 Kings Street, which was the former Alcazar Hotel. Known as “Florida’s Smithsonian” the museum features 3 floors of exhibits from all over the world and balcony’s which overlook a dining area which was once the largest swimming pool in the world.     

We dined at the Alcazar café. Fresh snapper and champagne were featured today and a pianist played while we dined.  

After only two days 30 minutes up the road we felt like we had returned from a European vacation but with money left over and ready to plan our next getaway.

We are ready to head out sailing on our next adventure and we’re looking forward to updating you all on our next “view from the shore”.