6 Unique Activities to Explore Florida’s Natural Beauty

Explore Florida’s Natural Beauty in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra

July 16, 2018

From sunset dolphin walks along the Atlantic Ocean coastline and moonlight kayak trips down Trout Creek to kid-focused programming such as yoga and aviary education, Florida’s Historic Coast offers up a bit of something for everyone when it comes to learning about the area’s unique natural beauty. While enjoying your Florida vacation in St. Augustine and beyond, make sure to check out the happenings of St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department.

An organization as diverse as the natural ecosystems that surround us, the St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Parks and Recreation staff hosts hundreds of events and programs each year – many of which are low cost or free, and open to the public. There are also nearly 50 active and passive parks, eight boat ramps, seven community centers, over 40 miles of scenic coastline, full-service fishing pier and an 18-hole golf course – all run by the county.

1. Kayak Trips

Let’s start with kayaking. A favorite activity for visitors and locals, there are hundreds of launching points around Florida’s Historic Coast, but only the local park’s department is privy to county-owned land for group activities. Nearly year-round, Park Naturalists take participants on unique kayaking trips at locations like Hallowes Cove, Deep Creek, Fort Mose and Moultrie Creek. Trips run from free to $50 per person. For more information, contact Kelly Ussia at kussia@sjcfl.us or 904-209-0335.

2. Picturesque Picnics

Picturesque picnic parks are on our mind. Whether this is your first time to the area or you visit every year, there are dozens of undiscovered county parks perfect to lay down a blanket, arrange a scrumptious spread and enjoy the outdoors. Check out Bird Island Park in Ponte Vedra Beach, Alpine Groves in Switzerland and Nease Beachfront Park in St. Augustine. If you have the kids in tow, Vaill Point Park and Canopy Shores Park in the southern portion of Florida’s Historic Coast are favorites boasting paved walking trails and playgrounds. For more information regarding reserving picnic pavilions, contact Joanne Machula at jmachula@sjcfl.us or 904-209-0333.

3. Fishing Clinics

With over 40 miles of scenic coastline and hundreds of fishing spots along creeks, lakes, rivers and marsh, it’s no wonder that Florida’s Historic Coast is brimming with opportunities to catch everything from redfish and trout to bluegills and black drum. In the spring and summer, Park Naturalists host a variety of fishing clinics that are free (or low cost) and open to the public. From freshwater to saltwater, learn about topics such as Tackle & Knot Tying, Fish ID & Regulations, How to Clean a Fish and Cast Netting. Before signing up, check out the different licenses and permits you need from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at myfwc.com/license. For more information, contact Jamie Baccari at jbaccari@sjcfl.us or 904-209-0377.

4. Dog Parks

Looking for fun for man’s best friend? Bring Fido along on your next adventure while visiting Florida’s Historic Coast. Our county parks offer plenty of space for furry friends to run free and play with their canine counterparts. Dog parks (including swimmable ponds, dog wash areas, covered pavilions and activity areas) can be found at Veterans, Davis, Deleon Shores, Nocatee Community, Ron Parker and Treaty Parks among others. For more information, contact Barbara Moubray at bmoubray@sjcfl.us or 904-209-0327.

5. Outdoor Sports

Move a muscle, change a thought. It’s no surprise that being outdoors and staying active is a recipe for stress relief and happiness. Florida’s Historic Coast has a bit of something for everyone when it comes to outdoor activities. Head over to the beach volleyball courts at St. Johns County Ocean Pier Park where open play is available most days of the week. There are also dozens of tennis and pickleball courts peppered throughout the county including Mills Field, Cornerstone Park, Deleon Shores Park, Ron Parker Park and Treaty Park among others. Looking for a fun thing to do with the kids? Visit Robert-Laryn Skate Park, located at Treaty Park, and the disc golf course at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds. For more information, contact Teddy Meyer at tmeyer@sjcfl.us or 904-209-0382.

6. Educational Programming

You’re never too old (or too young) to learn, as the saying goes. Florida’s Historic Coast is chock-full of educational programming to impart wisdom on ages seven to 107. Check out the Florida-Friendly series held each spring at THE PLAYERS Community Center in Ponte Vedra Beach for lectures on Lawn Care and Attracting Wildlife. There’s also educational beach walks in Butler Beach, walks through Alpine Groves Park to learn about wild edibles and backyard medicinal plants and partnerships with local organizations highlighting lectures on everything from snakes and alligators to shorebird nesting. For more information, contact Kelly Ussia at kussia@sjcfl.us or 904-209-0335.

If you plan on visiting Florida’s Historic Coast, check out the St. Johns County website at sjcfl.us and sign-up for the Parks and Recreation Department’s monthly newsletter by emailing sjcparksandrec@sjcfl.us.

kid with telescope and balloons
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches