Vacations in the Eastern U.S.A.
First Coast Bicycle Tour
A bicycling vacation of St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach & Florida's A1A
|Day 1 l Day 2 l Day 3 l Day 4 l Day 5 l Lodging l Getting There l Cycling l Extend Your Stay|
Starting in the resort area of Palm Coast, Florida, this tour covers some amazingly diverse bicycling -- from famous route A1A along the blue waters of the Atlantic to country roads providing scenic views of "Old Florida." Along the way, we explore historic Saint Augustine, pristine Amelia Island, and numerous inviting coastal communities.
Special note: Florida's First Coast region escaped the worst effects of Hurricane Irma. Roads are open, power is restored, and our innkeepers report that they are either back open already or will be well in advance of our arrival. A few spots remain on our Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 tours. The First Coast is open for business. Come join us there!
After a brief orientation meeting, we will start our week of pedaling! Our first day of bicycling will take us south from the resort area of Palm Coast on A1A. As part of the evolving East Coast Greenway, the portions of A1A that we enjoy on this trip have been upgraded to accommodate cyclists with wide paved shoulders and detached paved bike paths. We'll take in ocean views for a while, then loop inland and follow a route that is popular with all the local cyclists. A windy country road along a tidal creek provides classic Florida views complete with wispy Spanish moss. Two segments of paved rails-to-trails at the end of our journey creates a remarkably remote feel along the Intra-Coastal Waterway.
Dinner is together as a group tonight at the resort.
Distance: 38 miles, with options to
Today's bike route will take us from Palm Coast up A1A to St. Augustine. It's not far, but we have an optional route if you would prefer to add miles to your day. You'll have a chance to visit and climb the St. Augustine Lighthouse before lunch. The view from the top is among the most spectacular you will enjoy and provides a glorious bird's eye view of the country's oldest continuously occupied European established settlement.
Across the Bridge of Lions is St. Augustine. Settled by the Spanish in 1565, this small city has a rich history and numerous attractions. The Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States is now a national park. The Spanish began construction in 1672, and it has since served under five different flags. A few steps away is St. George Street, open to pedestrians only, and home to numerous historic and replica structures.
Just a few blocks south of there, you will find our inviting inn for two nights, overlooking Matanzas Bay.
Distance: 25 miles, inn to inn, with
options to extend to 45+ miles.
Our "Layover Day" in St. Augustine. You will want to want to take time some to explore more of St. Augustine today. Nearby are two grand hotels, now serving other purposes. Henry Flagler, whose railroad and tourism development efforts had a tremendous impact on Florida, built the Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1888. It now serves as the central building of Flagler College, and the student led tour of the magnificent building is a must. Across the street, Flagler built the Hotel Alcazar. Now home to the Lightner Museum, it houses the Victorian collections of Otto Lightner, who purchased the building in 1946 and donated it to the city.
Bicycling anyone? We have a great route for you that explores some lovely inland countryside (yes, some still exists in Florida!)
Dinner will be on your own this evening, allowing you to explore St. Augustine excellent options.
Distance: 0 - 40 miles, depending on
the options selected.
Our big day. After another outstanding breakfast, we will depart on the bikes for a route that offers amazing views of water, pristine homes, a river ferry and more. We will pass through the upscale community of Ponte Vedra, through the bicycle friendly beach town of Jacksonville Beach, then navigate our way over to the St. Johns River crossing. The ferry there provides a brief respite before we resume bicycling north, across the Talbot Islands. This area is absolutely beautiful. Bike friendly bridges with outstanding water views feed directly onto dedicated asphalt bike paths through state parks. Our destination is the charming town of Fernandina Beach, on the north end of Amelia Island.
Dinner will be together at one of Fernandina's many excellent restaurants.
Distance: Up to 65 miles, with options to to
strategically "leap frog" ahead.
Amelia has many charms to explore. Take a walk on the pristine beach at sunrise (or sleep in.) After breakfast, we'll take you on a chartered boat cruise of the Saint Mary's River where we'll learn more about the area's unique history and ecology. Expect to see countless dolphins! Afterwards, enjoy a spin around Fernandina, Amelia, and historic Fort Clinch. Free time in the afternoon will allow you to explore downtown Fernandina Beach and it's many shops, galleries and museums. Dinner will be on your own tonight.
Distance: Up to 23 miles, with options to
Our final day will include a van shuttle back to the Jacksonville Airport and Palm Coast. But before we get down to that, we'll bike back down Amelia Island and across the Talbot Islands to the St. Johns River Ferry and on to East Jacksonville. Showers and lunch will be provided before heading out.
your stay in the area:
FL: This sparkling downtown has a refurbished river walk and
Jacksonville Landing, an area of restaurants, shops and entertainment on
the north side of the river. Take the Jacksonville Water Taxi
across the river to the Southbank. We recommend the Hilton Garden
Inn, Southbank, just a few blocks away. That is also convenient to
the San Marco Square area, a trendy, alternate downtown nearby.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Cape Canaveral is 91 miles south of Palm Coast. If you are into the history of space exploration, you can tour the launch and landing facilities, ride the Shuttle Launch Experience, and participate in the Astronaut Training Experience.
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