A House-Sit on Florida’s Northeast Coast

Atlantic Beach, Florida

Atlantic Beach, Florida

When my husband and I accepted a house-sitting assignment in Atlantic Beach, Florida this past February/March, we had no idea what to expect. Of course I did my usual online research about the area, and pinpointed a few places I knew I’d want to visit, but that’s all.

I’ve always headed to either Orlando or the Gulf Coast before. I’d never set foot in northeast Florida, so I was excited to learn more about this area, it’s people, and what it had to offer travellers. I have to tell you, I was blown away! The house we were caring for was a rambling one floor home that was quite comfortable. We were house/pet sitting for a lovely lady with two senior dogs that needed caring for while she was away on a cruise to Hawaii. The dogs, Pumpkin and Alfie, were wonderful. Their temperaments are both friendly and they walked very well on a leash. With the house being just two blocks from the beach, it was an ideal opportunity to get to know the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida.

What I hadn’t expected was for the area to be so lush and full of tropical flora and fauna. Although northeast Florida definitely experiences cooler winters than her more southern siblings, she is extremely green and inviting. The beaches are some of the widest and longest I’ve ever experienced, which was thrilling to discover. We were there from February 24th to March 15th, so we certainly got a taste of the cooler and wetter temperatures (ranging from around 9C to about 21C, or 48F to around 70F), but having left Southwestern Ontario, Canada’s unusual temperatures of -27C weather (-16F), we were happy to trade our heavy winter outwear for much lighter jackets and running shoes.

Jellyfish, Atlantic Beach

Jellyfish, Atlantic Beach

Because we were required to walk the dogs first thing in the morning and around 4pm each day, we had ample opportunity to get acquainted with the neighbourhood, say hello to others passing by, and chat to some of the neighbours. On all but a few occasions, we walked the dogs on the beach to allow us to really experience the Atlantic Ocean, and so I could pick up a few interesting shells along the way. We also saw our first beached jellyfish on the Atlantic Beach sands, and had to take a picture to show our young grandchildren back home. A few days the fog came in and blanketed the coast, making our walks eerily silent, enveloping us in a grey shroud our eyes could penetrate by only a few feet. We loved it!

Poe`s Tavern

Poe`s Tavern

I’m a fair weather girl though, so I revelled in the days we were able to get out and soak up some sun. The small village of Atlantic Beach was lovely, but there wasn’t much to see or do in the town itself. We did discover a unique and inviting pub though, Poe’s Tavern. Poe’s Tavern on Atlantic Beach is a welcoming place to stop in for a beer and a burger. With a well rounded menu offering over fifty beers to choose from, its in-house- ground gourmet burgers and hand-cut fries, well, you simply can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, the day we were there the weather was overcast and rainy, so we sat inside the cozy pub area and soaked up the atmosphere of dozens of Edgar Allen Poe photographs and quotes. On a trip to the ladies’ room, I was surprised to hear a man’s voice coming from the overhead speakers reciting one of Poe’s works, rather than the usual muzak or radio stations one usually hears. The waitress was friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere was ideal for a cool, dreary day, and the food was excellent. Had the weather been sunnier and warmer, we’d definitely have sat outside on the large patio dotted with many tables and umbrellas. If you’re in either the Atlantic Beach or Charleston, South Carolina, one of my other favourite cities, do stop in and check it out for yourself.

That’s all for today. Stay tuned for more revelations about our trip to Florida’s east coast, topped off by a perfect five day stay at a resort condo in Orlando with our daughter and granddaughter!

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