We have some awesome friends who moved to Florida in the last two years. One couple in Palm Coast and one in Sarasota. We had a trip planned way back in April 2022 to spend a week camping in near each. It turned out that we had to cancel those plans and in retrospect I’m at least a little glad that we did.
This was before we upgraded both truck and camper. Having made the journey now to Flagler, nine hours. It would have been a harder trip with our other setup. We had planned only 4 or so hours of driving on that initial trip before stoping for the night. Our current trip we drove straight through. As I’ve mentioned. Big Ass Pearl (F-350) drives like we aren’t even towing anything. This wasn’t the case with our Gladiator and travel trailer. I can see now that we are much better equipped for long journeys.
Pearl is so comfortable and there is no sway or big truck push to worry about. I was no more tired than if I had just driven without towing. Our longest trip since upgrading was just under four hours so I had an idea that it would going to be a good experience. Now after nine hours that turned into 11 hours with construction traffic in Atlanta. I can confirm that I feel comfortable pulling this camper anywhere and for long stretches if we need to. The nice thing about being full time is that we don’t have to be in a hurry to get anywhere so we don’t have to drive long stretches usually.
I’ve driven through or stayed near Flagler Beach in the past but never camping and never right in this quaint little seaside town. I always liked driving through but now that we have spent some time here. I like it even more. While many of the locals are transplants from up north,usually Philadelphia, they are some of the nicest folks we have met. It is one of the friendliest places we’ve been.
Flagler is surf town. It’s not overly crowded especially this time of year. Small town between larger tourists areas. This makes for a great experience where you can enjoy less crowded beaches but easily drive into Daytona or St. Augustine for nightlife, food and other attractions.
We love to find where the locals hangout and we love meeting locals and making friends. Flagler is the type area where you will meet people and see them out and about. We are in the last week of a three week stay and I’m not sure it was long enough. This is such a nice place and so convenient. We have scooted up to St. Augustine a couple of times. It’s about 25 or 30 minutes away. Daytona is about the same in the other direction. We are about an hour and half from Orlando so Disney can be a day trip from here.
There are several state parks within a 15 minute drive. There are a couple of springs within driving distance. Jacksonville is maybe 45 minutes away. Most of which we haven’t gotten to do on this trip but we are making plans for the next trip. I think we will stay a month next time.
There’s plenty of camping options in the area. Three offer oceanfront camping, including Camptown. The state parks offer camping and there and many others. As you get closer to Daytona many specialize in camping for bikers. We chose Beverly Beach Camptown. It’s about 15 minutes from our friends house. It has some amazing oceanfront camping but oceanfront property is high and that’s true of campsites also. If you want oceanfront plan on at least $200 per night depending on season.
We booked across the street and it’s a short two or three minute walk to the beach from our site. This is a very nice campground. It’s laid out in fairly roomy rows with sandy parking and concrete patios with a picnic table. You can have a campfire but you have to have your own deck style fireplace. Evidently you can also have campfires on the beach except during turtle season.
There’s a large camp store. You can receive Amazon deliveries and it has a decent but small laundry. The campground has two rows, one beachfront on the beach side of the road and it has two sections of campsites across A1A from the beach. There are also several beachfront cabins. The campground has about a six foot seawall with deck type steps down to the beach. Camptown is surrounded by beach houses so no high rises here to infringe on the view. Once you leave Beverly Beach going south to Flagler all the buildings are on the inland side of the road. The Flagler Pier being the only structure on the Oceanside of A1A.
Food and Nightlife
While we haven’t hit every place on this trip. We have hit some on a previous visit where we stayed with our friends. Flagler has some great ocean view venues and some within a block or two off the ocean. You can park downtown and walk to 90% of them. I’m going to cover quite a few here and there are probably five or six more we will not get to on this trip.
The night we arrived, around 8:15pm. I was starving. I had not eaten since around 1pm. We lost about two hours in Atlanta traffic. So we rolled in late and tired. For reference we left Chester Frost around 8:30 am. Cathy was more tired than hungry and was in bed by the time I had the bedroom slide out. I went in search of some food.
As mentioned before I’m a research junkie so as soon as I was in the truck I’m looking at my options. Most everything closed at 8:30 or 9pm. I actually stopped at two places that were open but the kitchen was already closed. One nice server told me that Johnny D’s was the only place on the island open that late on a Sunday night.
This was both a lifesaver and a find. I’m not much of a fast food person and we had already had fast food on the way down trying to save time. It was quickly apparent that I had found the spot where the locals hangout. Most of these people were not going into work early, well at least not without a hangover. Johnny D’s was packed and everyone was feeling no pain. The lyrics “Grapefruit…bathing suit…chew a little Juicy Fruit…” ran through my mind. The next question was did I want to join them.
Since I had to work the next day I opted to keep it to a couple of beers. One waiting on food and one with food. I chose a fried shrimp basket and it was decent. I made note that we needed to return to Johnny D’s because we love to meet locals. We did return and met about 15 locals some of which we have run into at other places. If you want to have a good time with the feel of a hometown bar and meet some really nice people. Make sure you stop into Johnny D’s
We had planned to meet our friends after setting up, but since were almost 3 hours behind schedule we all decided it was too late on a work night and as mentioned Cathy was asleep instantly. We were planning on grocery shopping after we got arrived so the next morning we went looking for breakfast. The nearest place was the Java Joint. It was a great find. They have indoor and outdoor seating with an unobstructed view of the ocean. The surf was huge. We didn’t yet know about Nicole.
Food at the Java Joint is so delicious. We have not tried lunch here but we’ve had breakfast there twice. They have coffee, craft beer, mimosa’s and great food. Try the Crab Benedict. They also have good gravy and biscuits.
We met up with our friends in the evening for some seafood. The Anchor is small and the food is delicious. One of our favorites is Trigger and they had it a couple of different ways. They also have some amazing cocktails.
On another night we went to the Funky Pelican. This is the beachfront restaurant attached to the famous Flagler Beach Pier. The Pier is currently closed due to damage from Hurricane Ian. This is a hundred+ year old wooden pier that they will now replace with a modern concrete pier. The pier is known as the best place locally to watch rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. We sat outside on the deck that practically overhangs the ocean at high tide.
Most everyone enjoyed their food. I will say that mine had a good flavor but my chicken was tough. I had Jamaican Jerk Chicken. Cathy had a Fish Rueben which seems to be a popular menu item this year. She really enjoyed her’s and I wish that I had tried it. I would still recommend the Pelican as everyone else enjoyed their meals. We had a another couple from home that came down for the weekend so there was six of us.
We worked our way down to Tortuga’s. This is a great bar and they had live music outside. It’s a great place for drinks. Cathy and I had dinner here earlier in the week, Actually, the night before Hurricane Nicole came ashore. It was very windy and we ate upstairs on the outside deck. They had the screens down. The food here was excellent. Cathy had Bruschetta and I had fresh, local caught Ahi Tuna Tacos. The tacos were amazing. Probably my favorite meal of the trip so far.
Cathy and I went back to Johnny D’s the day after the Hurricane. We had returned to the camper that morning and were working from there when the power went out. We worked another couple of hours till our batteries were dead and then went seeking somewhere with power that was open. Most things on the island were closed but not good ole Johnny D’s. A couple of hours of work later we shut down our laptops, secured them in the car and proceeded to spend the evening hanging with locals.
Later in the week we ventured out on a Sunday looking for something to do. We ended up at a Biker bar in Bunnel, Florida named the 1405 Saloon. We saw live music driving by so after some further driving we headed back. We didn’t eat here but we had a great time listening to Blues. This was a bunch of local musicians playing together in assorted groups. One guy was the five time Florida harmonica champion. Another used to play with Dick Clark and Phil Vasser. The people here are nice. There was a big bonfire in front of the stage with chairs around it. Another hole in the wall find.
While there, some locals told us about the Beach Front Grill. So we were hungry and headed on down. This is just a couple of miles down A1A from our campground and it’s very good. We have been twice now. On this night we ran into some of our new local friends from Johnny D’s. So simple dinner turned into a good time. This place has really good food. We have had hot wings, burgers and the chicken and potatoes special. Note. They have nightly specials that are like $8. The chicken was a fried chicken breast and Cathy said it was some of the best fried chicken she has ever had.
Earlier in our stay we had gone down to Ormand Beach and stopped for a drink at Riptide’s Raw Bar and Grille. We did have some appetizers. I don’t have much positive to say about the experience. Even our server was recommending other places.
While our additional friends from Georgia were in town we hit up St. Augustine and found some good places as well as a Mexican joint in Palm Coast. The Mexican place was named Cantina Louie and it was a cool looking place with really good food and cocktails. I want to go back.
The Tini Martini Bar was a busy, fun place with a crazy list of Martini’s. We also had some gourmet drinks at Casa Reina. We only had chips and salsa here but they were amazing and fresh. The food looked awesome and we plan to go back sometime for food. The guys grabbed a couple of beers at Ancient City Brewing. The have some pretty good beer. I haven’t had anything amazing from them yet. On this stop I had the Augustine’s Orange Amber Ale. We went down to the beach area for Dinner at Beachcomber. The venue, beer selection and food was worth the stop. Beachcomber sits litterally behind a dune and beside the entrance to the beach. I had a Rhapsody In Red from Dog Rose Brewing, wasn’t a big fan.
One of our favorite places in Flagler was Break Awayz. This is an upscale bar and restaurant right across from the beach. It has a nice outdoor seating area and super nice indoor seating. They have a very good selection of craft beer on tap and very large selection of packaged beer. I had a Yacht Party from Charles Towne Fermentory. It was a nice light option with our dinner. I had a fish sandwich but I don’t remember which fish. It was delicious. The food here is very good and I wish we had eaten here a few more times before we left.
We did hit up a local brewery for trivia night. The trivia was fun and so were the people. Cathy met a girl who worked at a salon and gave her some business before we left town. I wish I could say the beer was equal to the patrons and trivia but I can’t. I actually did not finish a couple of the beers I tried and switched to sangria because I tried 6 beers and none of them were drinkable. Coquina Coast Brewing will probably not get another visit from me. You can get better beer across the street at Johnny D’s or at the other end of the parking lot at Poor Walt Lounge, both local hangouts
I didn’t really find any great local beer on this trip. I had many good beers but nothing standout. To see more follow me on Untappd.
Next stop…. St. George Island, Florida.