Explore Anastasia State Park

Great rentals can be found at Anastasia Watersports

Take a stroll over the beautiful dunes at Anastasia State Park

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Castillo de San Marcos at sunrise

Find unique fun at Ripley's Believe it or Not!

Grab a bite at the ever-popular Sunset Grille

Enjoy a relaxing dinner out at Coquina Surf Club's outdoor patio

Try some old world Italian cuisine at Amici's Italian Restaurant

Explore Coastal St. Augustine

The Beaches of St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Offer Beautiful Scenery and Outdoor Activities

Between the hike up the 219 steps of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum and the view of the historic city below, I was breathless. The bay teemed with boats of all types, creating the image of a scenic postcard as I took in the panorama from 165 feet above sea level. After so many trips to St. Augustine in the past, it was as if I were seeing this idyllic coastal town for the first time.

Located about halfway between downtown St. Augustine and the Anastasia beaches, the Lighthouse is the oldest navigational site in North America. Only a few blocks away, the beaches of Anastasia Island offer an affordable, relaxing atmosphere – providing a sensible and rewarding stop during an extended vacation.

Afterward, it was time to get out on the water. My friend Brian, who moved to St. Augustine a few years before, met me with fishing rods and frozen shrimp and we set out to go fishing.

With an average of 70-degree weather, fishing is a year 'round pastime. (One popular bumper sticker attests to this sportsman's paradise with the turn of a funny phrase, "St. Augustine – for visitors and residents alike.") Bluefish, whiting and drum are the easiest catches on the inland waterways.

We motored into the bay, cast our lines and sat back to enjoy the sun before dropping anchor near Anastasia Beach State Park. It is one of three state parks located near the city – ideal for hiking and camping, or renting sailboard and paddle cruises. The park is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Salt Run Lagoon. A swath of land that juts out into the water provides a natural setting ideal for kite flying, picnicking and photographing the area's idyllic coastal scenery.

By one o'clock, famished from the morning, Brian and I docked the boat and headed to lunch at Sunset Grille on Anastasia Beach. Conch fritters and cold beer fit the scene nicely at this popular outdoor restaurant and bar.

While the Anastasia beaches are welcoming, we decided to visit a portion of beach where you can still park on the sand, about a mile north of downtown just off A1A at Vilano Road.

Vehicles of all types were parked along this stretch of beach as we joined the tanners, swimmers, and fishermen shore casting for snapper, kingfish, cobia and amberjack.

This was a far cry from my childhood visits to the massive Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish Fort built in the 1600s, and original Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum – two popular sites that created my earliest memories of the city.

Although no visitor to the Nation’s Oldest City should miss the popular historic attractions, with a little research you can find many opportunities off the path most traveled to enjoy the scenery and coastal beauty of the area.
During your visit, you may want to check out some of these places to stay or dine while enjoying one of the oldest cities in the U.S.:

Accommodations: There are 10 moderately-priced hotels located on Anastasia Island, including Comfort Inn, Holiday Isle, Days Inn and Best Western. There are also three nearby campgrounds, including the Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort, Ocean Grove Camp Resort and the St. Augustine KOA Campground.

Dining Out: On Anastasia Island, a variety of choices are available, including Amici Italian Restaurant (which has been voted St. Augustine's best), Coquina Beach Surf Club, the Beachcomber Restaurant (great food with an oceanfront deck), Salt Life Food Shack or O'Steen's local seafood served Southern-style.

For the evening, the San Sebastian Winery (on King Street), Café Eleven or the Gypsy Cab Company – all within a short ride from the beaches.