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Holidays in Flagler: Give the Family the Gift of Your Presence

Escape the cold, snow and ice this holiday season and fly south with the family to Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches. You’ll enjoy tropical temperatures, beautiful beaches and plenty of festivities and cheer—and you can leave your winter coat at home. Here are the best ways to celebrate the holidays in Flagler.

Holiday Fun at Hammock Beach Resort

Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast is not only the premier resort in the area but one of the nicest resorts in the entire state of Florida. The rooms themselves exude luxury and comfort with many overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, and there is plenty to do besides enjoying the view. Tee off at two world-class golf courses: Ocean Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, and The Conservatory, designed by Tom Watson. After hitting the links, gather everyone to experience the family-friendly amenities including a 91,000-sq,-ft. water pavilion with a 65-foot slide and a lazy river. You can even embrace your inner artist and build a sand castle by the beach-style pool. The Hammock Beach Resort properties also have bikes available for exploring one of Palm Coast’s outdoor trails. If you want to stay indoors, enjoy the relaxing spa garden or start a family competition with table tennis or foosball.

This winter, Hammock Beach is celebrating the season with Hammock for The Holidays, which includes all the amenities listed above and more! The offer is for up to 20 percent off a stay for two or more nights, and you’ll receive a $25 resort credit for each night of your stay. You can use that credit for some of Hammock Beach Resort’s most festive holiday activities and specials. The menu includes seasonal spa deals, family scavenger hunts, stargazing, dive-in viewings of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and even s’mores around the campfire. The property also has a letter to Santa program, which allows children of all ages to write their Christmas lists to Santa.

‘Tis The Season for Fun and Adventure

The holidays are about appreciating one another and the world around you, and Washington Oaks Gardens State Park will truly make you stop and marvel. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is one of the most beautiful areas in Florida and makes for a gorgeous winter getaway. Start your park adventure on the garden side to experience 20 acres of landscaped gardens and ponds, complete with hiking and biking trails. Louise and Owen Young created the gardens in 1936 as a place to build their winter home. They donated most of the property to the state 30 years later, and now it is open for everyone to enjoy and create memories of their own.

The center of the park is a peaceful retreat with tall, shady oak, hickory and magnolia trees. You’ll also get a glimpse of the Matanzas River along the park border too. On the ocean side of the park, you’ll fall in love with views of the Atlantic Ocean and plenty of undisturbed miles of beach to walk on. This part of the park is famous for the coquina rock formations along the beach, which are created over time from fragments of seashells. The coquina rocks make the beach an exciting place for the whole family to explore tidal pools, climb across the rocks and watch the tide.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the water in Flagler County. Join Ripple Effect Ecotours for an exciting adventure in a vegetable oil-powered boat, exploring the coastal estuary and visiting with birds, dolphins and manatees. The oil is collected from nearby restaurants, making your tour eco-friendly. Even though you’re only miles from the beaches and shops, Flagler County provides miles and miles of remote nature adventures that allow you to rest and recharge—a must during the holiday season! Florida master naturalist instructors will point out exciting area sights, so you won’t miss a beat, and these experts can answer any questions you have about the local wildlife.

You can also rent a kayak through Ripple Effect Ecotours for a guided tour. Kayaking is a relaxing sport, making it a fantastic activity for people of all ages. For a special treat, take your tour at sunset to see Florida wildlife against a jaw-dropping, colorful backdrop. When you book your tour through Ripple Effect Ecotours, be sure to pick up your complimentary tickets to your next holiday destination—Marineland Dolphin Adventures.

If you want to see more wildlife, Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches has awe-inspiring encounters with an assortment of animals. At Marineland Dolphin Adventures, there are a variety of experiences for all ages and groups. Whether your family wants to see dolphins or get even closer and swim with them, Marineland is a terrific animal-friendly attraction in Palm Coast. This beachfront oceanarium was the first in the world and opened in 1938 under the name “Marine Studios.” The attraction has grown a lot since then, and now visitors can touch, swim or play with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. There are also shark feedings, sea turtle feedings and dolphin training sessions throughout the day for you to view, and a Behind the Seas park pass will give your family a closer look at the inside workings of the facility. The passionate staff at Marineland will show your family how to enjoy the experience and be respectful of the marine life at the same time.

The nearby Sea Turtle Hospital at The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience offers incredible, can’t-miss tours. The location provides rehabilitation services for sea turtles and allows guests to get a peek at the action before the turtles are reintroduced back into the ocean. Since 2015 the hospital has been rehabilitating sea turtles found locally that would otherwise be transported to Central Florida or even Georgia for help. It’s part of the University of Florida, but space is limited, so plan your visit in advance to see loggerheads, green sea turtles and more.

For that holiday sleigh-ride spirit, try family horseback riding at Equestrian Adventures of Florida. It is one of the highest-rated and most-recommended attractions in the area. Packages are customizable, so you can take rides down the beach, through oak forests and across Florida State Parks and preserves. The cooler months during the holiday season are perfect for a relaxing ride, and the horses are gentle for riders of all ages and skill levels. If you’ve never been on a horse before, lessons are available to get you started on your memorable equestrian adventure!

Celebrate in Style… All Season Long

Starting at Thanksgiving and going through the holiday season, Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches has tons of amazing events to celebrate. The area has everything from exceptional concerts to athletic events like the Feet to Feast Thanksgiving 5K and the Starlight 5K and plenty of different ways to get into the holiday spirit. And nothing says Christmas in Florida like Santa Claus parachuting onto Flagler Beach! Finish the holiday season with a transcendent night at European Village, which hosts the best New Year’s Eve party in the area.

The holidays are a magical time no matter where you spend them, but in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, it’s a trip that will have you planning your next vacation right away.