The recent 4th of July weekend was a great time to spend with friends and family! We’re trying to maximize the Mrs.’ maternity leave and packing in as many adventures as we can! The oldest little one and I discovered Washington Oaks Gardens State Park on our way back home from Fort Matanzas on Mother’s Day. Since we really didn’t have any plans and were being spontaneous, we decided we would actually take the Mrs. and check it out.
It was actually a pretty exciting day before we even got the park! We are in the market for a new car but not really ready to buy yet but we received a flyer from a local car dealership with an offer for a free Walmart Gift card. It was only $5, but we wanted to see if our double stroller would fit in the back of an Explorer with the third row seats being up. We got our answers and $5, so it wasn’t a bad morning. On the way to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, we also stopped by the Olive Garden for some soup salad and breadsticks. I used the gift card from a recent blood donation so we had a great and Frugal day so far!
By the time we arrived at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, the weather looked like it was going to take a turn for the worst. After paying $6 to get into the park, we had the feeling that it would be more of a donation because of the huge clouds rolling in. We decided to risk it and parked the car to have an adventure! I’m glad we did!
A bit of history before I tell you more about what we found at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. In the 30’s the Young family purchased this unique plot of land and turned it into their winter home and named it Washington Oaks. In the 1960’s the family donated the property to the state for use as a State Park. It’s amazing to me that a family relatively recently in contrast to other state park histories, would donate such a large and valuable property to the state. It’s a good thing they did though, as it is a great pace to spend some time with the family.
Before the young family donated the land, they had multiple gardens on property which were expanded when it became a state park. One of the most striking features of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is the centralized rose garden. I haven’t seen anything like it while visiting parks, and thought it was beautiful! Although it didn’t really seem like rose season, it was still beautiful and very aromatic. It must be even more incredible during the early spring! About this time, the Mrs. decided it was time to turn back with the boys and head for the car. The clouds were rolling in and there is nothing worse than getting caught in a downpour with two kids and a ton of baby/toddler gear. I decided to roam around a bit to snap some photos as she went back to the car.
It turns out she missed quite a bit park! Along the banks of Washington Oaks Gardens, you’ll find some great fishing spots, complete with fish cleaning stations and some rather comfortable looking benches. I didn’t see anyone fishing, but lightning tends to send the fishermen scurrying. Also on property is the Young residence that has been turned into a visitors center. The decor was really awesome inside and I wished my living room looked like this! Complete with a vintage looking TV which had a tech upgrade, a cozy fireplace, and a padded bench to curl up and read a book, I can see why the Young family used this as their winter retreat. Inside there were some interpretive exhibits as well, and the air conditioning didn’t hurt either.
While briskly checking out the rest of the park, I realized that a couple we about to get married right there in the middle of the park! In fact there are lots of little places that would make a beautiful backdrop for a wedding ceremony. I have no idea if they were rained out or not, but we wish them the best in their new lives together. I’m sure you must have the blessing of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park to actually have a wedding there, but I wouldn’t think it would be so bad. The Young residence I believe, is also staged as a dressing area complete with restrooms.
All throughout Washington Oaks Gardens, you’ll also find coy ponds and different plants that are arranged quite beautifully. It would make a great place to spend an afternoon reading a book or just watching people! One consideration though is that Washington Oaks Gardens is nature.. With nature comes bugs. Especially spiders! There were quite a few HUGE HONKIN’ spiders that were strung out throughout the park. If you stick to the wide garden paths, you’ll probably be alright, but early in the morning I would imagine there would be a few spider webs across the paths. It’s just incentive to stay on the paths and not venture into the gardens themselves, but if you find spiders really creepy, this may not be the park for you. Thankfully the Mrs. headed back to the car before she saw the bulk of them.
Once we were all back in the car, we headed to the North side of Washington Oaks Gardens where there are great picnic facilities as well as a small playground. The signs also said fishing was in that direction, but I didn’t rally see any obvious signs of fishing holes. Granted, after seeing the spiders previously, I didn’t check out any of the little paths leading to the river. For what it’s worth I didn’t see any spiders near the playground. The pavilions seem large and comfortable, and there were tables spiraled throughout the picnic area. It didn’t seem like a bad place to enjoy a sandwich.
When we decided it was time to race against the clouds, we quickly headed across A1A to the beach side of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. With limited parking available at the beach ramp, you’ll want to get there early if you want a nice secluded beach spot. The beach access is part of the park, but there is no attendant or lifeguard on duty, so be sure to pay via the honor system. Don’t worry though if you paid your admission on the riverside part of the park, it gets you into both sides. No need to repay! I quickly hopped out to see what it was like, and found a great little beach area complete with families at play! We would certainly return. We’re used to beach driving in Daytona Beach, so it would be nice to not worry about cars while visiting the beach.
So would we return to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park? Sure! In my opinion there is really only so much strolling through gardens that my family can handle, but I could see us hopping on the Mala Comptra trail from this park, heading to the beach, casting a line, or having a picnic here while on the way to an adventure in St. Augustine!
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park Details:
|Date(s):||365 Days||Time(s):||8am til sundown|
|Address:||6400 N. Oceanshore Blvd.
Palm Coast, Florida 32137
|Single Person||Per Car|
|Estimated Cost For A Family of 4:||$6|