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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Crescent Beach, Florida - A Secret Family Vacation Beach for Surfing, Biking, and Fishing with No Crowds. Crescent Beach Secret Family Vacation Spot Miles of lovely hard-packed sand make beach hiking, bike riding, and sand volleyball almost too good to pass up. When the tide is out residents and visitors drive along the ocean’s edge, sometimes parking against the sand dunes that frame the land.
Uncrowded and laid back, no high rise buildings buffer the beach zone. Shrimp boats cruise the currents; dolphins weave through the waves; pelicans glide over the shallows; summers bring sea turtles to nest; winters bring “Nor’easters” and treasures from the sea. Crescent Beach is picture perfect 24/7.

Adjacent to St. Augustine Beach and anchoring the Southern end of Anastasia Island, the uncrowded comfortable atmosphere is ideal for a family getaway. There is enough to do but not too much too do. For anyone dreaming of a beach vacation, Crescent was made to order. Most rent a condo or a beach house and set their own pace. Once you leave the mainland and cross over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (a.k.a. The Matanzas River), there is really no need to leave the barrier island. There’s a beach, surf, sand, almost always sunshine, sometimes a pleasant breeze, creating the perfect scene for a family vacation. The vacation options are endless. What’s to do? Need some hints?

Ride, walk or drive on the beach. Imagine more than 20 miles of beach marked in an orderly way so that anyone can walk, ride a bike, push a stroller or drive on the hard-pack sand. Anastasia Island, one of Florida’s most picturesque barrier islands is framed on the east by such a stretch of beach. Depending on the season, the cost for beach access is minimal.

You’ll love the view.
Not-to-be-missed the lighthouse marks the horizon and provides the viewing station. The top of the lighthouse is 165 feet above sea level and those who climb 219 stairs will have a visual treat. Guides explain about the lives of the keepers and their families and answer questions from curious visitors. Throughout the year they conduct living history programs and have many activities geared to children. Bonus points: Each month through Thanksgiving Weekend they offer a great afterhour Dark of the Moon tour, which  takes visitors on a paranormal tour of the lighthouse. Tickets are $20 per person for members and children between the ages of 7 and 11, $25 for non-members. Reservations requiered. (The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. (904) 829-0745 or

Stop to shop.
Simple Gestures Shop St. Augustine BeachWithin the morning shadows of the Lighthouse and very near the Alligator Farm is an awesome shop. One stop at Simple Gestures and your vacation will be enhanced ten fold. Steve and Sue, the proprietors, make the shop pure fun. They have good stuff. The comfy yellow house is loaded with clever, creative and sometimes one-of-a-kind things. The shop oozes positive energy in a sometimes quirky yet always friendly way. Known for great jewelry and marvelous home accessories, you will also find wall décor, lamps, art bags and uniquely crafted wine/cocktail glasses (Steve is the artist.). Bonus Points: The festive shop is next to Gypsy Cab Company, a restaurant offering new age Florida style cuisine, an ideal spot for lunch if your kids are 10 or older. (Simple Gestures at the corner of Anastasia Blvd & White Ct. (904) 827-9997)

Gators, gators everywhere. On Anastasia Island, not far from the lighthouse is the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. It fits snugly in the “wild and wonderful” category.  They have more than 2,700 gators and crocodiles--including some rare white gators. It is the only location in the world that has examples of 22 crocodilians species including alligators, crocodiles, caimans, and gavials. Visitors may also see geckos, prehensile-tailed skinks, lizards, snakes, tortoises, monkeys, and exotic birds. There are ponds and marshes filled with a variety of ducks, geese, swans, herons, egrets, ibises, wood storks, and other native wading birds as well as a petting zoo with pygmy goats, potbellied pigs, miniature horses, mouflon sheep, and deer. Bonus Points: Entertaining (and educational) 20-minute alligator and reptile shows take place hourly throughout the day, and spring through fall they often conduct narrated feedings. (St. Augustine Alligator Farm. 999 Anastasia Blvd, (904) 824-3337 or

Experience wild and edgy.  Anastasia State Park, just over the Lion’s Bridge from historic St. Augustine Island, covers more than 1,700 acres, and includes a gentle sloping beach and a tidal salt marsh as well as a maritime and upland hammock. Activities include beachcombing, swimming, fishing, picnicking, windsurfing, hiking, wildlife-viewing, and boating. Delightful natural trails weave throughout the sand dunes shaded by hammock forests.  Bonus Points: At the end of one of the trails is an archaeological site where coquina rock was mined to create the nearby fortress, Castillo de San Marcos. (Anastasia State Recreation Area. 1340 A1a South, Saint Augustine, FL 32084. (904) 461-2033 or www.floridastateparks.orgCrescent Beachs Best Secret Family Vacation Spot

Kayak on the river. Matanzas River, which borders the western side of Anastasia Island, is a delightful place for kayaking. From the launch port just south of the 206 Bridge it is an easy paddle to hidden estuaries great for viewing wildlife. Dolphins swim in the same waters and fish jump seeking a snack while pelicans cruise the air space. This is an easy outing for families and good exercise for all ages. For a high energy kayaking experience they also offer surf kayaking with classes which teach techniques that make a paddle out through the waves a blast and the ride back in a breeze. (Coastal Outdoor Center. A1A South 291 Cubbedge Road, St. Augustine, FL 32080. (904) 471-4144 or

Northeast Florida is for fishing. Captain Bill Schuller offers inshore and near shore light tackle and fly-fishing. Captain Bill gives all skill levels a chance to fish for grouper, speckled trout, redfish, snook and anything that takes the bait. He launches from the boat ramp just east of the lighthouse. He takes families out for a fishing adventure providing everything necessary to have fun.  For those needing a lesson Captain Bill takes the time to make the experience memorable. Guests may catch and release or take their prizes home for dinner. Most trips last about four hours while the craft travels within the protected waters of the Waterway navigating the reefs and cruising the estuaries. Guests may bring their own drinks and snacks. (Heads and Tails Fishing Charters. (904) 501-2901 or

Cruise to a secret fort. Tucked away from the mainstream, yet open for visitors,  Fort Matanzas National Monument remains a well-preserved connection to the past.  Built by the Spanish between 1740 and 1742, the tall tower in the middle of the Matanzas River was used as a remote guard station to protect the original colony of St. Augustine. Today the mini fort is open to the public with access provided by ferry. It is worth the trip just for the boat ride. Bonus Points: From time to time they conduct both torchlight tours and living history demonstrations that add an additional dimension to the location. They offer a Junior Ranger program for children ages 6-12. The activity book is available at the Visitor Center. (Fort Matanzas National Monument is four miles south of Route 206 on Highway A1A on Anastasia Island. (904) 471-0116 or Beach Florida Beach Flowers

Visit Marineland. South of Crescent Beach just over the bridge and into Flagler County is a marvelous spot, not to be missed. Built in 1938, Marineland was one of the first oceanariums in Florida and is the first oceanarium in the world to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is home of both the world’s oldest bottlenose dolphin, Nellie, and also the last known blonde bottlenose dolphin, Lilly. Visitors will see dolphins, sea lions, penguins, flamingoes, and related sea life. It is possible to snorkel or SCUBA in the 450,000-gallon oceanarium. The facility is undergoing renovations and progress is visible. The schedule for activities and encounters varies because of the revitalization program. Bonus Points: The facility is located across from Whitney Labs. From time to time marine scientists from Whitney conduct weekend family events. (Marineland, 9600 Ocean Shore Blvd (A1A South of the Matanzas Cut. Toll-free 1-888-279-9194 ext. 100, (904) 471-1111 or

Content and images by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2018.
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