After you’ve crammed in as much sightseeing in St. Augustine proper that you can, cross the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island. If you’re up for it and it’s sunny, climb the lighthouse to get a spectacular view of the area. See the Alligator Farm, one of the oldest tourist attractions in the state. Anastasia State Park has some great beaches, and inland are a few of the abandoned quarries where the Spanish and others mined coquina, the most prominent building material in St. Augustine.
If you get there on Saturday morning, visit the St. Augustine Amphitheatre parking lot for the weekly farmers’ market. See the Amphitheatre itself, if you can. It was built in one of the old quarries. The way you see the Amphitheatre now is not how it’s always been. It was constructed in 1965 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine. Open air with a wooden stage, it was the home of Cross and Sword, the official state play. Sadly by the 1990s, the play was no longer performed there and the Amphitheatre soon fell into disuse. Without regular maintenance, it really suffered from the elements. In 2002, the county bought the property and closed it. Several years and two million dollars or so later, this is the result. It is pretty, but I kind of miss the old stage. Oh well, the ups and downs of progress. (see Google map)
- St. Augustine Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters (81 Lighthouse Avenue) (NRHP)
- Clapp Octagon House (62 Lighthouse Avenue)
- Spanish Coquina Quarries (in Anastasia State Park) (NRHP)
- Anastasia State Park (1340A A1A South)
- St. Augustine Alligator Farm Historic District (999 Anastasia Boulevard) (NRHP)
- St. Augustine Amphitheatre (1340C A1A South)
This is the road I usually take, since it’s the most direct from the middle of Florida, where I’ve mostly lived the last 20 odd years. Whilst researching this post, I totally stumbled across something I knew about but didn’t know happened here.
When I first got the NRHP bug, I learned more about certain chunks of Florida history. Like the 1920s land boom and subsequent bust due to the stock market crash. Which is why you’ll find lots of Mediterranean Revival architecture around the state, as it was a popular style at that time. Another period was the Second Seminole War, which predated the Civil War. I’d see mentions of the Treaty of Moultrie Creek, but never looked into it further. When I was looking at Google Maps recently, though, I noticed a green spot southwest of St. Augustine off SR 207. It was called Treaty Park. That piqued my interest, and I rooted around some more. Lo and behold, it was where the Treaty of Moultrie Creek was signed! Next time I’m in the area, I must visit and take photos of the area and the historical markers in and near the park.
I can remember when SR 207 was mostly two-lane and 55 mph. But it got widened a few years back, with the lanes doubled and speed limit in the rural areas at 65 mph. The only real slow spot is Hastings, and it’s 45 mph. Just north of there is the old Sanchez Homestead. When I first visited, they must have been doing renovations on the entire property. There was no fence at all, so I could get some halfway decent zoom shots from the road. I’ve checked it out more recently, and there’s foliage and no trespassing signs all around, so you can’t see the buildings at all.
Hastings itself has two NRHPs, the old school and the community center. The school is in use and well maintained. The community center, on the other hand, is in ruins. Honestly, there’s not enough of it left worth saving. Further east you can find another surviving bit of the old brick Dixie Highway. It’s several miles long, but not very drivable unless you have a jeep, since there’s deep potholes all along the way. But you can still get a sense of what it was from the initial tenth of a mile or so.
- Sanchez Homestead (7270 County Road 207) (NRHP)
- Hastings Community Center (401 North Main Street) (NRHP)
- Hastings High School (6195 South Main Street) (NRHP)
- Dixie Highway-Hastings, Espanola and Bunnell Road (Roughly Espanola to County Route 204) (NRHP)
Next road to look at is US 1. There’s Faver-Dykes, a wildernessy state park. Pay attention, though, since the turnoff is easy to miss. You can see the Florida Agricultural Museum, which among other things has some buildings from the Strawn Historic Agricultural District in De Leon Springs. And there’s Cherokee Grove/Princess Place Preserve, an Adirondack style house in a county-run preserve. Further down US 1 you’ll wind up in Bunnell, the Flagler County seat. I’ll get to that in a bit. (see Google map)
- Matanzas State Forest
- Faver-Dykes State Park (1000 Faver Dykes Road)
- Florida Agricultural Museum (1850 Princess Place Road)
- Cherokee Grove/Princess Place Preserve (Princess Place Road) (NRHP)
Last but far from least is A1A. I mentioned it at the beginning of this series of posts as being very scenical. Which you’ll see once you traverse it. The first few miles south of St. Augustine are built up, but that diminishes as you continue into the more residential stretch. The speed limit is 45 mph for a while, which lets you see some of the semi-palatial homes along the beach. On the west side, though, is mostly grass-covered sand dunes.
Soon you’ll come to the entrance to Florida’s other national monument, Fort Matanzas. You have to take a ferry from the park to get there, but it’s free. Space is limited, though, so I recommend getting there early. The visitor center is a NRHP, very WPA.
Only a few miles south you’ll enter Flagler County and pass Marineland. It’s an old tourist attraction that sank into the doldrums for a while, but has been revitalized. Then there’s a state park I’m really fond of, Washington Oaks Gardens. The gardens are on the west side of A1A, and you can see coquina outcroppings along the beach on the east side.
After that, most of the rest of the way is tree-shaded, with sporadic buildings along the way. In Palm Coast is Bings Landing, a county park that contains the remains of the old Mala Compra Plantation, which has been excavated and is on display.
Further on the trees over the road go away and the hotels and condos replace them. Welcome to Flagler Beach. It’s strange, though, because I kind of like it here. What helps is that all the development is on the west side of A1A, leaving the beach open and the ocean visible until you get to Ormond. There’s a casual feel that you don’t find in, say, Miami Beach.
Fair warning: Beware of biker festivals. There are two biggies, Bike Week in March, and Biketoberfest in October. Which you should be able to figure out when that is. It’s not the bikers, per se, as they’re usually good drivers. But when you get bike caravans, it can make traffic more complicated. Groups of twenty or more choppers are common from here down past Daytona Beach and west to the central counties. Actually, Bike Week is worse, since it partly coincides with the crazy of Spring Break.
If you take SR 100 west, you’ll get to Bunnell. But before that, there’s a bridge over a waterway where you can get a rather splendid view of Flagler Beach. Better seen if you’re coming from the west.
So, Bunnell. It has two NRHPs. One is an easy-to-find old bank building. The other is the Vocational Agriculture Building. It’s on a school campus, so unless you come when school’s in session, you can only see it through a fence. There are several AGFHA listings, though a couple are gone. Another place that could have a historic district. Drive around to look at the AGFHA buildings, do the walking tour, and you’ll see what I mean.
- Vocational Agriculture Building (1001 East Howe Street) (NRHP)
- George Moody House (1000 Moody Boulevard) (AGFHA)
- Hendricks House (802 Moody Boulevard) (AGFHA)
- Dr. W.H. Deen House (805 Moody Boulevard) (AGFHA)
- Holden House (across from courthouse) (204 East Moody Street) (AGFHA)
- Flagler County Courthouse (205 East Moody Street)
- George Moody House (105 East Lambert Street) (AGFHA)
- Cochran House (202 North Railroad) (AGFHA)
- Lambert House (200 North Railroad) (AGFHA)
- Moody Residence (102 North Railroad) (AGFHA)
- Old Bunnell State Bank Building (101-107 North Bay Street) (NRHP)
- Tribune building (106 South Bay Street) (AGFHA)
Back on A1A, and before you leave Flagler County, you’ll go through Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. It’s another state park that straddles A1A. Not as pretty as Washington Oak Gardens, but it looks to be more popular. I think in part because it’s easier to get to it. (see Google map)
- Fort Matanzas, Headquarters and Visitor Center (8635 State Road A1A, South) (NRHP)
- Marineland (9600 Ocean Shore Blvd) (NRHP)
- Washington Oaks Gardens State Park (6400 North Oceanshore Boulevard) (NRHP)
- Mala Compra Plantation Archeological Site (5862 N Oceanshore Blvd) (NRHP)
- Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area (3100 South A1A)
Next up, Volusia County. See you on the road!