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FLAGLER BEACH VISITOR AND RENTAL INFORMATION
 
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The Flagler Beach Chamber hosts the Business After Hours meeting on the 3rd Thursday in March, June, September, and November. The rest of the year we encourage all Flagler Beach Chamber members to participate in the County Chamber's Business After Hours meetings, which take place at various locations around the county. Please be sure to check the Chamber calendar for meeting locations each month.


Why Everyone Loves Flagler Beach!

Jacksonville.com

The Flagler Beach fishing pier is the centerpiece of the town.

 

 

 

 

 

Living at the Beaches, it's sometimes easy to take the beach for granted.

So to celebrate the beginning of the summer season on Memorial Day, I decided to find another beach, and to spend the day in another beach town.

I wanted a place outside of the Jacksonville area, not too far and not too crowded.

So I headed to Flagler Beach, a little more than an hour's drive south, with my 13-year-old daughter, Caylie, and her friend Nikki Bourque.

I'd remembered Flagler Beach from past road trips down Florida A1A and remembered it as a small, laid-back place.

A quick Internet search told me the Flagler County beach town was one of the few old-time traditional Florida beach towns left.

"The Jewel of Florida's east coast!" said cityofflaglerbeach.com.

"The peaceful beach," declared the city's Chamber of Commerce Web site.

That sounded good to me.

The section of A1A from Ponte Vedra Beach to Flagler Beach is part of "Scenic and Historic A1A," which, according to that Web site, scenica1a.org, "is more than a name - it's a state of being."

We found the drive there pleasant and unhurried, and the town pleasantly low-key.

A drive from one end of the town and back on A1A, which is the main road through, gave us a glimpse of what the place is all about: sun, sand, surf, a little shopping, a few restaurants and pubs, a handful of mom and pop-type hotels and bed and breakfasts and a long wooden fishing pier that juts out into the Atlantic.

Most parking for the open-access beach is along the street. Luckily, we found a slot near the pier, which brought back memories of the old wooden pier in Jacksonville Beach at Sixth Avenue South. A short ramp led down to the beach, where we set up chairs and towels and settled in for the day.

The yellow sand beach was nicely uncrowded. Lifeguards perched atop a red tower chair behind us, and since only a few people were swimming, it felt safe and relaxed.

While facing the ocean, I saw fishermen casting long lines into the waves.

By the tide line, three boys crafted a castle out of sand, occasionally throwing a fistful at each other.

Another small boy caught waves with his bodyboard under the watchful gaze of his dad.

Caylie and Nikki jumped up and down in the foaming waves, heeding my admonition to not go too far out in the churning surf.

Over my right shoulder, on the roof of a large building at the edge of the pier, I could see the town's signature sign that spells out Flagler Beach in big white letters.

Nikki ran up and grabbed her Coke bottle off her towel. She gulped some, went down to dip it in the ocean to wash some sand off, then plopped the bottle in our cooler.

"How's the water?" I asked.

"Pretty warm," she said, "and pretty rough."

Located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach is home to about 5,500 residents, according to the town's Web site.

Incorporated in 1925, the city is about three blocks wide between the Intracoastal Waterway preserve and the Atlantic Ocean and it has 6 miles of beaches.

Visitors can ride bicycles along the waterfront, walk the downtown area, which includes a museum, and view the wetlands of the Intracoastal.

Every Friday, an old-fashioned farmer's market in the center of town features fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods and more.

After two hours of swimming, we were hungry for lunch.

One of the lifeguards recommended La Bella Pizzeria Restaurant, a quaint Italian restaurant directly across the street from the pier.

It was cool inside, and the lighting was low.

A sign by the cash register said, "Pizza is not a matter of life and death. It's much more important than that."

The pizza was as good as the sign suggested, and for a few more dollars, the meal included an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

After that, we went back to the beach for another hour, then drove a few blocks to The Seaside Shoppe, a cottage decorated across the front yard with funky nautical decorations.

Owner Sally Pillittieri filled me in on some facts about Flagler Beach as the girls looked at jewelry and beach-theme souvenirs.

It's like an old-time beach town, she said after I remarked on the lack of condominiums and strip malls.

Building heights are limited to 35 feet and three stories, she said.

As a merchant, she said she makes it a point to attend all the City Hall meetings, and would like to see a few more shops added to the half-dozen there.

"They don't want change," she said. "People come to this town because it's like this. The tourists come to relax and get away from big cities. They say they like it just the way it is."

In another shop, I met Steve Kayworth, who told me he was on the Flagler Beach Chamber of Commerce.

He agreed with Pillittieri's assessment. The City Commission's goal is to keep this a small Florida town, he said.

"Small towns are disappearing," he said. "This is one of the last ones."

The town was originally named Ocean City Beach when it was founded in 1913. I would have liked to have visited the museum, but it's closed on holidays, so I investigated its history online.

The first municipal pier was built in the 1920s, and there was once a grand structure called the Flagler Hotel, where famed aviator Charles Lindbergh stayed in 1931 after an emergency landing in the town.

Houses and cottages were developed around the small downtown and many are still there, as are several modest family owned hotels and motels with oceanfront views, like the kind that used to exist in Jacksonville Beach.

"They discourage chains; a Starbucks once tried to get in," Pillittieri had told me.

I'm glad it didn't. It makes Flagler Beach unique - a nice day trip, or maybe even long weekend place to get away from the Beaches.