Smooth sandy beaches are the usual picture conjured in one’s mind when thinking of Florida. Craggy rocks usually draw images of California not Florida. However, on the way to St. Augustine, there is a little hidden gem called Washington Oaks Garden State Park. Nestled along the Matanzas River, this park is split in two by the main road. On the river side is a beautifully maintained set of gardens with towering live oaks, lily ponds, and a rose garden. It’s the perfect place for a picnic or just a stroll to stretch your legs after hours of driving. The ancient looking oaks are dripping in Spanish moss and summon memories of what Old Florida must have looked like.
Crossing the street takes you to the Atlantic beach side. Here you will not find just any ordinary beach. Instead, the beach is lined with coquina rocks that make for fun climbing and exploring. I was reminded of a miniature version of the Mohegan Bluffs. Waves crash over them unexpectedly, but the slippery rocks form tide pools at low tide where shells are sometimes lurking along with crabs and other sea life. On the day we visited, most of the holes were empty, but it was still fun to scramble over the rocks looking for shells. Pay the five dollars to visit, you won’t regret it.