What we loved about Palm Coast

The Palm Coast was one of the quieter stops on our family travel adventure in Florida. That’s what we loved about it. After weeks — make that months — on the road, we needed to slow things down.

We stayed in a six-bedroom vacation rental called Camelot, just a few steps from Cinnamon Beach. We didn’t find any evidence of King Arthur or his knights, but the boarding house-style dinner table did remind us of Camelot’s round table.

Aren and Iden are fixated on an iPhone game called Dragonvale, and its medieval soundtrack kind of set the mood for our stay in the vacation rental.

(This picture of the kids was taken the morning of our departure in front of our vacation rental; can you guess which one isn’t happy to leave?)

Maybe Camelot is appropriately named, even though it is located in Florida.

Just up the road is St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied city in North America. Alright, so the legend of King Arthur is a few hundred years older than the city, but it is historical. And the dragon part? Pure fiction. But fun, nonetheless.

We spent a day wandering the streets of St. Augustine and ran into Aren’s fourth grade class from St. Luke’s. What a surprise!

It was nice to catch up with his old friends, tell them about our family travel, and to see this fascinating city together. We survived a walk through the Colonial Spanish Quarter (beware of the many gelato opportunities — they are difficult to resist) and walked to Flagler College and to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

If you’re driving up A1A from Palm Coast and want a really authentic seafood experience, try the shrimp salad at O’Steen’s Restaurant. We arrived at 11:15 a.m. and didn’t have a problem finding a table, but when we left at around 12:30 there was a long line. It’s well worth the wait, and a must-do family travel experience.

The other can’t-miss destination in the Palm Coast area is Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, a lovely preserve with manicured gardens, ponds, citrus groves and an oak hammock. A former estate that was donated to the state of Florida in the 1960s, Washington Oaks is a great place to see many native plants and stroll along the shores of the Matanzas River.

Here’s a multimedia slideshow of our walk in the park.

We spent a lot of time in our vacation rental at Camelot, and with good reason. It had a great pool and an entertainment center downstairs, which, alas, kept them from their morning school assignments. We’ve never used a kitchen with two dishwashers, but Camelot is meant to accommodate 20, and for a moment we thought we’d opened our own bed and breakfast. (Wow, talk about putting the “family” in family travel!)

OK, the kids were acting as if we were running a bed and breakfast from the vacation rental.

Palm Coast is far less touristy than Orlando, although St. Augustine had its fair share of visitors. We really liked that. There’s nothing more soothing that a nice walk along Cinnamon Beach at sunset, with nothing but the seagulls as your companion. You can do that at this time of year.

Well, that was the week in Palm Coast. We’re back home now, dealing with a few pressing matters. We are still trying to find a sitter for our three kitties. Until now, we’ve asked a friend to come by the house to feed and pet them while we’re gone. My parents have agreed to take them in 2012, when they move into a house in Arizona. It’s all part of our family travel adventure. Or maybe I should say “misadventure.”

We also have to plan the next few weeks of travel and catch the kids up with school work.

We’re grateful to Access America, Florida Vacation Auction, The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, The Vacation Rental Managers Association and Travelpro for sponsoring Away is Home. And a big shoutout to our friends at Vacation Rental Pros for their help in pulling this segment of our Florida trip together. You can find this vacation rental and more across the country at