Skip the wrapping paper this holiday season and gift your family or friends a special experience right here in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches. There are unique adventures for anyone on your list. In fact, 74% of Americans now prefer experiences to products or things, according to a recent survey conducted by Expedia and the Center for Generational Kinetics.
For a memorable time with family or an exciting getaway with friends, here are the top experiences to gift in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches.
Swim With Dolphins
It is a memory to treasure forever—the chance to swim with dolphins. At Marineland Dolphin Adventure, you’ll find a variety of ways you can get up close with these fascinating animals. Touch, play and splash around in the water with a dolphin, then hold on tight to their flippers for the ride of your life! If you prefer to stay dry, you can toss a ball with dolphins at a dockside encounter, or paint a picture with a dolphin for a keepsake. For a more immersive experience, Marineland offers the Trainer for a Day program, where you can work with the training crew as they prepare meals and feed the dolphins, observe and record their behaviors and get hands-on during enrichment sessions.
Horseback Ride on the Beach
A walk on the beach is unforgettable when it’s on a horse. Take a stroll on the sand at low tide with Equestrian Adventures of Florida. While you’re horseback riding, admire the scenic ocean views, watch for whales and dolphins and enjoy Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches’ year-round great weather. With gentle horses and knowledgeable guides leading the way, riders of all levels will feel comfortable.
Paddle Out on an Ecotour
For the person who loves the outdoors, gift an outing to explore the area’s waterways by kayak. Ripple Effect Ecotours offers guided tours of the Matanzas River Estuary. As you paddle through mangrove tidal creeks and salt marshes, the sights and sounds of nature are enchanting. You’ll spot a variety of birds, fish and playful dolphins. Tours are family-friendly (suitable for ages 6 and older), and first-time kayakers are welcome. If you are looking for an aquatic adventure with more speed, hop onboard Ripple Effect One, a vegetable oil-powered jet boat. The recycled oil produces 50% fewer carbon emissions than standard fuels, so a trip aboard Ripple Effect One is an environmentally friendly way to take in the natural beauty of Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches.
Cast a line with Palm Coast Fishing Trips for the chance to hook redfish, trout, flounder and more. The company offers half-day guided fishing charters on the Matanzas River. An experienced captain at the helm will take you to the best spots to maximize your opportunities to reel in a big one. Each fishing trip is customized to guests’ interests and comfort. Along with inshore game fish, you can hook cobia, kingfish, sharks and tarpon when in season.
Get Up Close With Sea Turtles
Sea turtles are some of Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches’ most precious—and vulnerable—residents. Learn all about them and conservation efforts at a tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Laboratory. The hospital cares for injured sea turtles and once healthy, releases them back into their habitat. If you visit the area during sea turtle nesting season, from May through October, you may also have a chance to see just-hatched sea turtles make their way to the water.
Make Your Own Pottery
Get fired up in Flagler Beach! At Down to Earth Pottery, create your one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Let the ocean views inspire you as you work with the clay; the pottery studio is located across the street from the beach. Create an abstract sculpture with your hands, or learn to throw pottery on the wheel with a local artist as your instructor. A pottery party is perfect for a girls’ getaway or for the budding artists in your family.
Hit the Links by the Ocean
The only thing that can compare with the immaculate greenways is the sparkling blue of the ocean beside it. Gift the golf fan with 18 holes on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. Jack Nicklaus designed the award-winning course, one of two at the luxury resort. After playing through wetlands and beside lakes, you’ll tee off for six holes right next to the ocean. Dubbed “The Bear Claw,” the final holes are even challenging for seasoned golfers thanks to the courses’ position at the edge of the sand. Though the incredible views might tempt an intentional extra stroke to linger there a little longer.
Try an Escape Room
The people of a small town have been vanishing for months, and you have the only clues to their disappearance. Can you solve the mystery before you vanish, too? This heart-pumping experience is one of several immersive adventure games at Twisted Minds Escape Room. Working with your group, you will be challenged to communicate, solve problems and think on your feet as you race against the clock. Are you up for the task?
Create Your Own Painting
Channel your inner Picasso or enjoy a laid-back evening with friends at Painting with a Twist. With a paintbrush in one hand and a beverage in the other, you’ll have a blast creating your own masterpiece to take home. No art experience is needed, and you’ll be amazed at what you are able to create! Using acrylic paints on canvas, you will be guided step-by-step through a specific design. Painting with a Twist has a variety of wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages for you to sip while you paint. The studio provides all the art supplies.