Settle in for a laid-back beach vacation in Palm Coast, a relaxed coastal community on the northeastern coast of Florida. This small city is secluded from the state’s spring break havens, making it a peaceful, family-friendly vacation destination. Spend the bulk of your trip enjoying the beautiful ecosystems that lie minutes from many Palm Coast vacation rentals. Look forward to swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, playing with dolphins, and hiking through a scenic state park. Check out the top kid-centric activities to do in Palm Coast.

1. Visit the Sea

Ocean shore
Source: Flickr/TruffShuff

The beach is the undeniable centerpiece of Palm Coast. This soft stretch of sand extends for 19 miles along the Atlantic Ocean, so you can try a different spot every day. The majority of local beaches feature free admission and free parking; simply find an open spot along the water and walk to the nearest beach access point. If you’re traveling with the family dog, head for the pet-friendly Jungle Hut Road Park.

2. Explore Florida’s History

Source: Pixabay/vargazs

Step back in time at the Florida Agricultural Museum. Walk through a variety of restored buildings, including a Depression-era citrus business and a homestead that dates back to the 1800s. In the dry goods store, kids can see how early pioneers bought and sold supplies. The Black Cowboys Exhibit traces the fascinating history of African Americans in Florida’s cattle businesses and ranches. Before you leave, be sure to visit the friendly farm animals that live on the property.

3. Hang Out With Dolphins

Source: Flickr/Sean MacEntee

Plan an unforgettable afternoon at Marineland Dolphin Adventure. Here, your family can interact with friendly bottlenose dolphins in a variety of settings. Get in the water with the animals during the Discover Dolphins experience, or participate in a feeding with a Touch and Feed session. If your kids are serious dolphin enthusiasts, consider the Trainer For a Day program, which is open to everyone ages 13 and up. The facility also offers eco excursions and behind-the-scenes tours.

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4. Visit Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Source: Pixabay/tpsdave

Spend a day adventuring with your kids at Washington Oaks Garden State Park. Explore the stunning formal gardens, which feature unusual exotic plants and reflecting ponds. Hike along the park’s trail system, and walk along the seawall that lines the Matanzas River. If you’re bringing toddlers or small kids, stop to play on the playground that sits by the river. Make sure your phone is fully charged when you head to the beach, which features spectacular coquina rock formations that make perfect backdrops for family photos.

5. Explore an Archaeological Site

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Head to Bing’s Landing County Park to see the Mala Compra Plantation archaeological site. The property was once owned by Joseph Hernandez, the first Hispanic member of the United States Congress in the early 1800s. An elevated boardwalk winds around the plantation, so you can look down at the excavated sites. Interpretive signs along the way help your kids identify each section and understand its importance.

6. Fish off of the Flagler Beach Pier

Flagler Beach pier
Source: Flickr/Rachel Kramer

When you feel like fishing, make the short drive south to the Flagler Beach Fishing Pier. This enormous pier juts out over the ocean, giving you a great view of the waves and fast access to deep-water fishing. The bait shop on the end of the pier rents poles and sells bait, as well as snacks and drinks. A small admission fee grants you access to the pier and includes a daily fishing license; family passes are also available.

7. See a Royal Retreat

Princess Place Preserve
Source: Flickr/Laura Gamba

Head to Princess Place Preserve to see the winter retreat of Princess Angela Sherbatow, the wife of an exiled Russian prince. Tour the unique Adirondack-style lodge, which once hosted the United States’ elite socialites. Then, head out into the grounds, where you can marvel at the natural beauty of the confluence of Pellicer Creek and the Matanzas River. Hike along the preserve’s trail system, keeping an eye out for the deer, fox, and armadillos that live within the perimeter.

8. Paddle Pellicer Creek

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See the wild lands north of Palm Coast with a paddle trip down Pellicer Creek. Rent canoes at Faver-Dykes State Park and set off down the creek, which is an official Florida canoe trail. For the best views of migratory birds in the salt marshes, head down the many small tributaries that branch off of the creek. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water. After your trip, head back to the park to hike the nature trail and use the playground.

9. See a Spanish Fort

Spanish fort
Source: Flickr/Rain0975

Check out a historic Spanish fort at the Fort Matanzas National Monument. The stone fort, which was built in 1740, played a key role in Spain’s defense of the Florida territory. Today, you can hop a ferry to get to the fort and explore the beach along the beautiful barrier island. The park and the ferry are free of charge; get your passes at the Fort Matanzas Visitor Center.

10. Bike on Singletrack

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Experience some of Florida’s best mountain biking on the Mala Compra Plantation Greenway Trail. Over the course of five miles, this singletrack trail system brings you through difficult climbs, down exciting hills, and over wooden bridges. A series of switchbacks runs through the palm-tree forest, where you can spot birds and small animals. For newer bikers and small children, the perimeter of the system provides gentle slopes and easy riding.

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