Outdoor Activities in the St. Augustine Area
Nature Lovers, Fishermen and Birders Flock to St. Augustine and Its Beaches
A visit to Anastasia State Park is a beautiful way to start the day and provides abundant opportunities for bird watching. Located just one-and-a-half miles from downtown St. Augustine off State Scenic Highway A1A (aka Anastasia Boulevard), the park features five miles of wide beach bordered by sand dunes, and a lagoon surrounded by rich tidal marshes. Expect to see great blue heron, little blue heron, tri-colored heron and green heron. Snowy and great egrets can also be spotted, as well as the white ibis, wood stork and roseate spoonbill. Along the shore you’ll see gulls, sandpipers, willets, terns, pelicans and sanderlings. Late morning presents raptors like the red-shouldered hawk, bald eagle and osprey. The marshes and sea meadows also boast a varied bird population as well as further back in the coastal hammock and along the campground roadside.
As you leave the park, keep your eyes peeled for the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park – it’s just across A1A. No need for binoculars at this rookery; close encounters are guaranteed. The birds build their nests just feet above the boardwalk, knowing the alligators below will protect them by discouraging dangerous tree-climbing predators such as raccoons, opossums and snakes. These birds show little fear of people and often perch in trees and shrubs at eye level. Look to the large live oaks to the north and east of the swamp for nesting great egrets, and in the treetops for wood storks. The lower elderberry bushes host snowy egrets, tri-colored herons, little blue herons, roseate spoonbills and cattle egrets. Be sure to check out their behind the scenes tours and animal encounters where you can enjoy the Rainforest Sloth Encounter or feed the giant croc, Maximo.
Every spring, photographers of every skill level and nature lovers converge on Florida’s Historic Coast for the annual Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest. This year the Photo Fest runs April 22-26, 2020, and is of the most popular events among birding, nature and photography enthusiasts in the southeast. With more than 130 birding and photography field workshops and classroom sessions led by acclaimed photographers, Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest has something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner photographer, advanced or somewhere in between, there are hands-on workshops at locations around Florida’s Historic Coast – St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches.
A Taste of Old Florida
Deciding on lunch is difficult; the streets of St. Augustine spill over with eclectic restaurants. Cap’s on the Water is farther north, but offers dining in an Old Florida setting, away from the crowds, under the oak trees and on the Intracoastal Waterway. Head north on A1A for about five miles, turn left at the castle (3rd Street) and right on Myrtle. The restaurant blends new-world elements with traditional Southern dishes like a Florida gumbo of crawfish, crab, shrimp, okra, peppers, onion and garlic.