Best of Florida’s North Atlantic Coast
Downtown Fernandina Beach: In 2002 the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Fernandina Beach as one of the 12 “most distinctive destinations” in the United States. Strolling through the well-preserved landmarks and 19th-century architecture of downtown, it’s not hard to understand why, as the area emanates a unique charm and sense of history that makes it feel like a well-kept secret.
St. Augustine’s Old Town: If Fernandina Beach is a well-kept secret, the Old Town area of St. Augustine is…well, not exactly a secret. You may find fault with the tourist shops and the incessant bell-clanging of trolleys carting sightseers around, but they do little to distract from the beauty of St. Augustine’s 400-year-old buildings and narrow walkways.
Daytona 500 Experience: Daytona Beach is well known for its beaches and the fact that it is the home of “the Super Bowl of stock-car racing.” The Daytona 500 Experience is a museum and interactive attraction designed to keep race fans engaged when the Speedway next door is silent.
Canaveral National Seashore: Twenty-four miles of undeveloped beach are just part of the attraction of this 58,000-acre barrier island national park. Bought by the NASA to provide a security buffer for Kennedy Space Center, which is located at the southern end of the island, Canaveral has some of the state’s most secluded and naturally beautiful coastline.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: A sister site to the Canaveral National Seashore, the Merritt Island NWR is a 140,000-acre area of largely unspoiled marshes, dunes, hardwood hammocks, and waterways.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: The IMAX theaters, interactive experiences, and rocket displays of this heavily touristed attraction could, in reality, be anywhere. But this facility’s location — within sight of NASA’s launch pads and assembly buildings — is what makes it such a surprisingly evocative destination.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition