Google maps and Waze will both default to I-95 if you’re traveling north from Daytona, or south from Jacksonville. We’re going to tell you one of the best reasons to avoid I-95 and take A1A instead.
It’s Hidden Gem #22, the Turtle Shack Cafe in Flagler Beach, Florida… and it’s likely you haven’t heard about it.
Let us tell you how we discovered this gem.
We were traveling up A1A toward St. Augustine in July 2016 for our wedding and got a hankering for a cup of coffee in Flagler Beach. A search in Google for ‘coffee near me’ kept bringing up places that were closed. We drove on hoping to find something soon.
Just north of Flagler Beach, we noticed a restaurant in a wooden building on the side of the road which appeared to be open. It lacked the appeal of the cute coffee shop that we’d envisioned finding.
But if it had coffee, it would fit the bill. The warm July afternoon had us a bit sleepy and we were willing to take our chances.
We stepped inside to a cluttered bar with a few small tables. To the left was a larger outdoor room with picnic tables and benches.
Even though we were the only people in the place, we chose a table on the “patio” and slid onto a bench.
Even though we had only stopped for coffee, we scanned the menu expecting burgers and fried chicken. It’s a beach-side shack in Florida, right?
That’s interesting… avocado egg rolls?
Diving deeper into this funky menu we found the most amazing beer list that either of us had seen in a long time. There must have been at least 30 beers, making me think that they might be the ‘Baskin Robbins of Beer’. We decided that perhaps a snack before our coffee was in order.
What we didn’t realize was that we’d stumbled upon the Flagler County 2015 Restaurant Week winner.
We were in love.
That was our first visit to the Turtle Shack but it wasn’t our last.
Since then, whenever our travels take us to St. Augustine, we stop at the Turtle Shack. We could take I-95 and get there a whole lot faster, but the combination of the lovely drive on A1A, and a meal at the Turtle Shack always pulls us there.
We were driving back from St. Augustine on New Year’s Day 2020 and had the good fortune to find the Turtle Shack open. Of course, we stopped in.
The featured soup was a seafood bisque featuring local black grouper. The waitress told us that it was so popular that they’re adding it to the regular menu. After one taste, we understood why.
Their menu still continues to delight. Having pretty much just eaten our way through St. Augustine for four days, we wanted to go ‘light’.
(Insert cynical chuckle here…)
So we split a Hawaiian burger and sweet potato fries. The burger was awesome, the fries their usual crunchy goodness.
The beer list is still as incredible as it was in 2016.
The key lime pie for dessert was one of the best we’ve ever had. The lime zest sprinkled over it reminds you of why you love key lime pie, just in case you forgot.
We’ll be back Turtle Shack! We love you! You’re one of the best reasons to avoid I-95 and take A1A!
Do you have any favorite hidden gems that you’ve found in your travels? Share them in the comments below – we’d love to hear about your discoveries!
The Turtle Shack Cafe, 2123 N Ocean Shore Blvd, Flagler Beach, Florida 32136
Phone: (386) 693-4851
Tuesday-Saturday – 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday -11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Reservations: Reservations for larger parties accepted.
Parking: Right out front.
Noise Level: The room to the left is larger and quieter.
Payment: Credit Cards accepted.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss checking out the great collection of metal brewery signs in the restroom.