Driving from my home in Jacksonville on St. Patrick’s Day eve, my goal on this particular Saturday was to climb the Ponce Inlet and St. Augustine lighthouses, both within close proximity to A1A. I was out the door at around 6:03 a.m., got onto A1A at 6:33 a.m., and found my spot to watch the 7:33 a.m. sunrise near Vilano Beach.
The stretch of A1A between Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine is gorgeous, and it offers plenty of opportunities to access the beach. Parking lots along this stretch will fill up as the day progresses, but on this early morning stopover, I had the beach to myself.
From here, it did not take long to get to St. Augustine, where quite a few breakfast options were available. Hungry as I was, I took advantage of the morning’s quiet streets of America’s OLDEST city and crossing its usually congested Bridge of Lions, and steadfastly continued south.
For my first lighthouse climb, I would need to conquer 203 steps to the top of the TALLEST lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest brick lighthouse in America (175 feet). For my morning meal, I would forgo my usual Saturday morning fare of omelet, potatoes, and toast from my hometown Fox Diner and load up on a couple of sugary treats and caffeine from a Flagler Beach institution.
Welcome to Swillerbees Craft Donuts and Coffee.Bar.
I attribute my discovery of Swillerbees to YouTube. While looking for a place to eat between Jacksonville and Ponce Inlet, which is about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach offered plenty of options. However, a couple of customer videos convinced me that Swillerbees would be my destination for morning eats.
For potential A1A travelers, I suggest that you subscribe and watch Chad Gallivanter videos. Chad and his wife have posted numerous, well-detailed, and very interesting videos of “Travel, History, and Florida Life.” In his “Exploring Natural Flagler Beach at the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve” video, they visit Swillerbees and provide a thumbs up review, with Chad enjoying their Bees Knees donut, and his wife enjoying a vanilla-iced donut with sprinkles.
“This is what breakfast should taste like,” said Chad.
Another video posted by Ricky Husey and his friend Shelton show them taste-testing a six-pack of donuts from the Swillerbees in St. Augustine (now closed). Among the donuts they comically reviewed (Ricky drops some F-bombs, so adults only, please) are the Samoa, with its topping based on the Girl Scout cookie, and the Unicorn, which Ricky mentions has a taste similar to Capt. Crunch Berries cereal.
For me, I went with an order of four donuts, one to consume and the other three to bring home and share. I went with a Lucky You—a St. Patrick’s Day concoction topped with Lucky Charms cereal pieces, a Butterfinger, and a couple of Orange Cremes. I read about a Coconut Creme donut, which would have been a chosen one or two for me; unfortunately, it was not available.
“Big donuts, funky donuts, and classic donut choices are available depending on what level of sweet guests seek. Funky donuts are creative combinations that include flavors like Mojito, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Maple Bacon, Lemon Meringue Pie, and more. They also regularly create new seasonal donuts, breads, and muffins.”
Since I wanted to get to Ponce Inlet as early as possible, I decided to enjoy an Orange Creme donut and Caffe Latte on the road. A trip to the car wash later in the day was warranted, but that donut was oh so good—I would have another for lunch while heading back to St. Augustine to make the second climb of the day, a 219-step, 165-feet venture.
The donuts worked—I had the energy to climb both, though my sore legs reminded me of the climbs for a couple of days.
One donut, the Lucky You, made it home intact.