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9 a.m.

Blue Hen Café

Breakfast begins at the bar of this kitschy, farm-inspired eatery in St. Augustine. Sumptuous combinations stand out on the menu, from brioche French toast to blue crab quiche. I opt for chicken and buttermilk biscuits, served with slaw and peach butter. The portion size is substantial and a candidate for splitting. Stamped tissue paper and streamers drape from the ceiling in this festive environment, and a hodgepodge of roosters and other vintage items are scattered throughout. facebook.com/The-Blue-Hen-Cafe

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10 a.m.

ACCORD Civil Rights Museum

This museum, a 10-minute walk through a residential section of the historic downtown, is a must-see. It opened on July 2, 2014, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, and pays tribute to the sacrifices and accomplishments of those who championed equality and human rights. Located in the area’s first nonsegregated medical and dental clinic, the museum is rich with demonstration documents, tributes to leaders and other 1960s-era artifacts. I spend over an hour absorbing the role our region played during this pivotal point in our nation’s history. accordfreedomtrail.org

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11:30 a.m.

Moses Creek Conservation Area

As I continue south along U.S. 1, chain-anchored shopping centers give way to vegetation. I take a hard left on State Road 206, and arrive at the west trailhead of Moses Creek Conservation Area. I explore the canopied trail and make a note to return when I can dedicate the better part of a day to discover the various natural communities here, including scrub, freshwater tidal swamp and estuarine tidal marshes. sjrwmd.com

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1 p.m.

Smokin’ D’s BBQ

I back peddle a couple miles and pay my respects to this award-winning barbecue joint, which serves smoked pork, turkey, ribs and brisket. But don’t forget cash; It’s the only thing accepted here. These guys are serious about their product, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Employees T-shirts declare: In 1979, I smoked pot. Now I smoke pork. On this particular Saturday afternoon, the parking lot is full. Diners stream out with paper bags of proteins by the pound. I order a chopped pork sandwich and claim a seat on a tree stump, outside to enjoy the brown bag’s contents. smokindbbq.com

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2:30 p.m.

Florida Agricultural Museum

Located another nine miles to the south off U.S. 1, this restored early 20th century pioneer homestead is the remnants of a citrus farm. I tour workers’ tiny houses, a granary and a dairy barn, and meet some of the museum’s residents, including Florida Cracker cattle and the ancestors of Spanish horses. floridaagmuseum.org

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4 p.m.

Florida Heritage Crossroads

I backtrack on U.S. 1 and head west on County Road 204, scanning alongside the perimeter for the Old Brick Road (Old Dixie Highway), the longest continuous nine miles of original brick road in the southeastern United States. This desolate road, the last stretch of Florida’s oldest commercial highway, is best traveled with an off-road vehicle. I drive about as fast as I would in a snowdrift, being careful to avoid the occasional large rocks, ingrown tree branches and bricks that heave up from the road’s spine. The landscape alternates between rows of pines and fields of harvested trees. A sign denotes Espanola, long-forgotten quiet open land that once was one of the economic epicenters of Flagler’s brisk timber and turpentine production. heritagecrossroads.org

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5 p.m.

Bunnell

The road proceeds toward Bunnell, one of the oldest communities in east Florida and a link to the state’s rail industry. Here, I stroll past craftsman homes named after the area’s founding leaders and fetch an early dinner at Bantam Chef, a throwback fish and chips walk-up and order restaurant. I opt for the Famous Fish Sandwich, a heaping portion of fried Alaskan Pollock sandwiched between pancake-sized buns and served with a generous helping of Southern hospitality. facebook.com/Bantam-Chef

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7:30 p.m.

Flagler Beach

Due east on State Road 100, the quiet town quickly transitions into commercial development around Flagler Beach. The shoreline is an anthill of activity, between sunbathers catching late afternoon rays and the biker crowd gearing up for evening revelry. Throngs of parents and children huddle around Sally’s Ice Cream. They have the right idea, so I join them. With more than 40 ice cream flavors, plus a slew of sundaes, cones with various treatments and hot eats, there’s something for everyone. Two scoops of vanilla peanut butter satisfy my craving. I make my way onto the pier, lined with anglers hoping to retrieve flounder, black drum or whiting, and finish my sweet treat before twilight eclipses the smoldering horizon. facebook.com.SallysIceCream

 

Joy rides are good for the soul! Each month we will give you a tailored itinerary for a perfect driving day trip through the First Coast. Photograph your copy of the magazine at each stop and post on Instagram with tags @firstcoastmag and #fcjoyride to enter the First Coast Joy Ride contest to win a souvenir prize from your joy ride!