When European explorers arrived in the New World after months on the sea, they needed some serious rest and relaxation (just like you do when the office's fluorescent lights become too bright and cubicle walls seem to tower over you).
In the spirit of Ponce de Leon, come rejuvenate, explore and find hidden treasure along the 40 miles of coastline running from Ponte Vedra south to Crescent Beach. Who knows? The fountain of youth that eluded the Spanish explorer may be yours for the taking.Day 1: Relax
Claim the land to be yours and set up a (day) camp at St. Augustine Beach
. The main beach entrance at St. Johns County Pier is reached by the S.R. 312 bridge from St. Augustine and heading south on Anastasia Island.
Make a stop for breakfast at the World Famous Oasis Deck & Restaurant
before reaching the beach. Starting at 6 a.m. early birds can feast on pancakes, fried eggs and grits while watching the sunrise over the Atlantic. The crew can nourish themselves throughout the day with classic beach fare like hot dogs, fried shrimp, coleslaw and, arrgh, cold beer.
Cars are allowed on certain sections of the beach. Be sure to follow signs to safely park there. At the pier awaits a four-acre beachfront park with a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, a pavilion, volleyball courts and bait and tackle and concessions. The beaches have a parking fee.Day 2: Explore
Now having a sense of your surroundings, set off to explore the historic forts of the Nation's Oldest City's beaches.
At the southern end of The Beaches is Fort Matanzas Beach and National Monument
. A refurbished fort, originally built in 1742, sits at the mouth of the Matanzas inlet. Matanzas means "slaughter" in Spanish, and the area was so named after 300 French captives were executed here by the Spanish in 1565. A free 45-minute tour on an open-air, but covered boat launches every hour from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
At Anastasia State Park
just outside of historic St. Augustine is a quarry where the coquina rock that built the nearby Castillo de San Marcos fort and other area buildings was mined. A walking tour of the quarry is available.Butler Beach
, located about seven miles south of St. Augustine, was established in the 1920s and until 1965 was one of the few beaches on north Florida's Atlantic Coast designated for the use of African Americans.Day 3: Hunt for Treasure
The gold of the New World is long gone, but a bounty of seashells and natural beauty is yours to behold. South Ponte Vedra Beach's
dune-lined shore is ripe with maroon, pearl white and golden shells and maybe even a black-polished fossil shark's tooth or two. Dogs are allowed on the beach, but must be on a leash.
Back near St. Augustine visit Vilano Beach
and capture a priceless memory of your loved ones as they learn to surf or ride a wake board at Surfside Park
. SEA-DOO™ rentals are available at the Vilano Beach Fishing Pier and picnic shelters, showers and restrooms make this local park an ideal place to spend a day.
Step out of the sun to visit Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
in St. Augustine. It is believed that Ponce De Leon placed a marker here in 1513. Visitors can drink from the well, and even if you don't believe in the water's magical qualities, it can't hurt to taste the fabled elixir that has brought visitor to these beaches for hundreds of years.