Florida’s Historic Coast Story Ideas
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St. Augustine, Fla. – Florida’s Historic Coast includes St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, Ponte Vedra Beach, home to the PGA TOUR and THE PLAYERS Championship, world-class tennis facilities, more than a dozen championship golf courses, and 42 miles of beautiful pristine Atlantic Coast that offer year-round fun in a seaside paradise.
Plan a visit to Florida’s Historic Coast and take advantage of special offers and themed packages for visitors to enjoy with great golf deals, romantic escapes and family fun.
EXPLORING HISTORY THROUGH THE NATIONAL PARKS
The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. There are more than 400 national parks in the U.S., each providing a remarkable representation of America’s natural and historical legacy. In Northeast Florida there are three forts that are part of the National Park System, The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas in St. Augustine and Fort Caroline in Jacksonville. These three forts represent the amazing story of the founding of North America’s oldest settlement.
The story begins at Fort Caroline in Jacksonville, where in 1564, hundreds of French colonists attempted to establish a permanent settlement in North America, a land that was under Spanish claim. Spain sent Admiral Pedro Menendez and 800 colonists to remove these French from Florida. Today Fort Caroline is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve located along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville where stories of early exploration, survival and first contact between American Indians and Europeans told.
The Castillo de San Marcos, located on Matanzas Bay in Historic St. Augustine and the oldest masonry fort in North America, was constructed after 9 wooden forts designed to protect St. Augustine were burned by pirates, the British and other invaders. Built from native coquina, construction of the Castillo began in 1672 and took 23 years to complete. This stronger fortress was never taken in battle and today visitors learn about 18th century Spanish militia through Ranger programs and re-enactments presented by authentically clad re-enactors.
Fort Matanzas, also built from coquina rock, is located on the Intracoastal waterway south of St. Augustine. The fort was built by Spanish soldiers to protect St. Augustine from attacks from the south by invaders approaching through Matanzas Inlet. Today Fort Matanzas has grown to a park of almost 300 acres with walking trails, picnic areas, small tidal beaches and of course the fort located on Rattlesnake Island, which visitors get to by ferry.
Adventure travelers will have plenty of stories to tell after a visit to Florida’s Historic Coast. Put these activities on your “must conquer” list.
- Hover over alligators and crocodiles on the challenging Crocodile Crossing zip line course at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park.
- Swim with dolphins at Marineland Dolphin Adventure
- Kayak the ocean and rivers through “real Florida” with St. Augustine EcoTours or Ripple Effect EcoTours.
- Glide across the water powered only by the wind after taking kite surfing lessons from Ocean Extreme Sports.
- Reel in the big one on one of several deep sea charter fishing boats
- Climb 219 stairs to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse
- Soar over the city in a beautiful 1935 "model" Waco biplane
Year-round, visitors can catch their favorite musicians at two of North Florida’s most unique and popular concert venues. The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is a small concert venue that is ideal for intimate concert sessions hosting performers such as Rita Wilson, Jesse Cook, the Florida Chamber Music Project and many more. The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is an outdoor concert hall which this summer host performers like Cindy Lauper , Shawn Mendez, Death Cab for Cutie and CHVRCHES and Ray LaMontagne.
Visitors can enjoy more performing arts with the EMMA Concert Association, which opens its season each fall, as well as the First Coast Opera and free summer concerts at the beach, Concerts by the Sea and historic downtown area, Concerts in the Plaza.
New this year, The Treasury on the Plaza an elegant events venue, has added The Vault at the Treasury, regularly featured live entertainment set in the sophisticated cocktail lounge environment of The Treasury’s Grand Ballroom. Talented musical entertainers like the Chris Thomas Band and Amy Hendrickson are just some of the performers that perform swinging songs from days gone by in this unique venue.
An average of 250 weddings takes place each month on Florida’s Historic Coast. Popular wedding locations include TPC Sawgrass, Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Lightner Museum, the Pena-Peck House, Flagler College, Hammock Beach Resort, Marineland Dolphin Adventure, Renaissance World Golf Village Resort, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club or any of St. Augustine’s quaint Bed & Breakfast Inns.
You don’t have to be getting married or renewing vows to have a romantic visit. Here are some tips sure to touch the heart.
- The area’s 42 miles of beaches provide the perfect, peaceful place to watch the sun rise.
- See the sun rise from your own private oceanfront balcony at the luxurious Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
- The coquina sand of Ponte Vedra Beach makes for a stunning sunset stroll
- A walk along the Bayfront in St. Augustine at dusk is a relaxing way to end the day
- Take in the panoramic view from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse
- The area’s temperate climate allows for outdoor dining all year round.
- Enjoy a private carriage ride through the historic streets of St. Augustine
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Squeeze fitness into your vacation. Staying healthy while on vacation can be a real challenge. On Florida’s Historic Coast there are dozens of golf courses, miles of beaches and trails, and plenty of water sports and outdoor activities that keep visitors fit while having have fun. Here are some fitting ideas:
Get active on the links with these Great Golf Deals on Florida’s Historic Coast; participate in daily yoga, spin and golf fitness classes at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa; explore new heights at St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s Crocodile Crossing zip line adventure; make it a SUP Saturday with Ocean Extreme Sports stand up paddle board lessons; get your swing on at the PGA TOUR Academy at Sawgrass TPC in Ponte Vedra Beach and World Golf Village in St. Augustine each offers personalized instruction programs. St. Augustine Cycling hosts organized 20 to 40 mile daily endurance rides that start at different locations around Florida’s Historic Coast. And there are plenty of popular runs taking place in 2016:
April 2: Spud Run – Half Marathon, 5K and Cabbage Crawl
July 16: Bridge of Lions 5 K
September: 13th Annual Endless Summer Run/Walk
November 12 & 13:St. Augustine Half Marathon
Florida’s Historic Coast offers accommodations, attractions, dining options and entertainment to suit every taste and budget. For the budget conscious traveler, accommodation rates can be found under $100 and there are plenty of hot deals for mid-week, extended stay or vacation packages posted every day on www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com. And once you’re here, it’s easy to inexpensively enjoy the area’s attractions, tours and entertainment. The following is a list of fun to be had for free or for just $10 or less per person.
See for Free:
42 miles of unobstructed beaches
Daily tours and tastings at the San Sebastian Winery
First Friday Art Walk with free trolley departing from the San Sebastian Winery
Fort Matanzas, including the ferry boat
Second Saturday Pup Walk Historic Walking Tour
Tours of Historic Churches including the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church, the Mission Nombre de Dios and the St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica
St. Augustine Distillery and Museum
Tour the Club House and visit the famous 17th island hole on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass
$10 or less per adult
Anastasia State Park
Bayfront Miniature Golf
Castillo de San Marcos
Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf
Flagler College Legacy Tour
Fort Mose State Park and Museum
GTM National Estuarine Research Reserve and Environmental Education Center
Marineland Dolphin Adventure
Oldest House Museum
Outdoor enthusiasts will find much to love on Florida’s Historic Coast. Whether it’s bird-watching at key stops along the Great Florida Birding Trail, hiking, beachcomber adventures, or fishing on shore and offshore, there are plenty of eco-excursions to choose from.
The waters that surround Florida’s Historic Coast are part of the 60,000-acre Guana, Tolomato, Matanzas National Estuary Research Reserve—referred to by locals as the “Git-mur.” This estuary stretches from Ponte Vedra Beach down the coast to Marineland and contains extensive salt marshes, oyster beds and maritime hammocks—a fascinating place to explore.
Guided kayak tours provide an opportunity to get an up-close look at dolphins and other marine wildlife. Salt marshes, accessible by boat or kayak give way to foot trails that bisect the region’s beautiful maritime hammocks and the St. Johns River Basin.
Giant sea turtles nest on St. Augustine’s beaches during the warm summer nights, and the in the winter months, the Northern Right Whale can be spotted from shore.
With eight stops on the Great Florida Birding Trail, the area is a bird watcher’s paradise—especially the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park where thousands of coastal birds make their homes from March to June under the protection of the big gators. In April, hundreds of birders and photographers from around the globe come to participate in the Annual Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest with world-class tours, seminars and workshops.
Florida’s Historic Coast is also a cyclist’s paradise. Inviting weather year-round, breathtaking coastal vistas, and the quaint historic downtown of St. Augustine are found on the AIA Scenic Byway – a route with designated bike lanes between Ponte Vedra Beach to the north and Marineland to the south. The area anchors the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop traveling through a five-county upper east-central region.
FAMILY FUN ON FLORIDA’S HISTORIC COAST
Florida’s Historic Coast has a 42 miles stunning oceanfront, the perfect playground for surfing, swimming and playing in the sun. Include a family beach and waterfront experience with nature programs at a state park or take an eco-tour to learn more about the coastal estuaries.
In St. Augustine, kids enjoy living history, especially when it includes hands-on experiences at the Colonial Quarter, Castillo de San Marcos, The Old Florida Museum, Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, and the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. Each offer fun interactive experiences for kids to see and feel history.
Summer family vacations are more memorable when kids take part in one of the area’s many unusual summer camps. The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, Marineland Dolphin Adventure, and Limelight Theatre, are among the attractions that offer unique programs and adventures for kids.
Seaside resorts in Ponte Vedra Beach specialize in summertime family-fun. At the AAA Five-Diamond rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club families can enjoy the best in resort vacations. Packages for beach adventures, golf or tennis are designed just for families and include golf clinics, tennis lessons or surf lessons.
Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa is also a spectacular getaway for families. The resort’s Cabana Beach Club has a casual family atmosphere with kayaks, boogie boards, surf lessons, and sail craft available. Thee resort even has summer camps, surf camps and swim lessons. The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa is near completion of a $23 million property-wide renovation. Restaurants, lounges, public areas and meeting space have received the redo treatment. Some of the renovations include a pool resurfacing, lighting, built-in fire pits for s’mores at the main resort; the addition of a SurfStream® wave simulator; and the addition of The American Gator Club restaurant offering enhanced views of the 13th hole of the TPC® Sawgrass’ legendary golf course The Stadium Course.