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Contact: Barbara Golden
St. Augustine, Fla. (August 8, 2021) – There are plenty of new things happening along Florida’s Historic Coast where 42 miles of pristine Atlantic Beaches, America’s oldest city and outdoor recreation have been favorites in Florida for 455 years. New hotels, attractions and dining will make a visit here a memorable and refreshing experience.
Staying here has never been more comfortable. Health travel protocols remain a priority and wide-open spaces abound. There are many ways to safely experience the new additions on Florida’s Historic Coast starting with some new openings in 2021, and renovations at well-established lodgings.
Opening in late August in the heart of St. Augustine’s Historic District, the Renaissance Historic Downtown St. Augustine Hotel, was designed to replicate the historic San Marco Hotel that sat on the same spot during the Gilded Age. This elegant hotel features exquisite architecture with in a convenient and lively downtown location.
The newly opened oceanside Historic Watermelon House, a luxury 6-bedroom vacation home located on the Intracoastal Waterway in Crescent Beach offers a luxury getaway in the pristine Matanzas Inlet area of St. Augustine.  Built in the Flagler era (1890), this historic mansion was Mellon family winter home and hosted such prestigious guests as Eleanor Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Cary Grant and Robert Frost. The House recently underwent a total renovation The Watermelon feels like a private resort making it perfect for small destination weddings and comfortable family gatherings.
The impressive Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort is wrapping up the new construction of the resort’s North Wing, adding an additional 42 guest suites. This addition to the Resort which opened in December 2018, overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the pristine Anastasia State Park.
Along Anastasia Boulevard, voco®, a newly IHG branded hotel is conveniently located to the beaches, and within walking distance of the St. Augustine Historic District. The hotel features a sleek casual atmosphere with convenient amenities like free WiFi, complimentary breakfast, a meeting room, and outdoor pool.
Vilano Beach is a hot spot for touristic development on Florida’s Historic Coast. The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Vilano Beach opened this summer with 50 rooms and is located just steps from the beach. The Hyatt Place Vilano Beach, with its spectacular Art Deco design and rooftop dining, will open in early 2022, providing another 120 guest rooms and gorgeous event spaces just steps from the beach.
The Hampton Inn & Suites on Vilano Beach recently completed a major renovation of all 94 guest rooms and public spaces. This seaside Inn is a preferred choice of many families and business travelers, and these extensive renovations allow the Hampton Inn & Suites to provide the very best hotel experience for guests for the perfect seaside getaway.
In St. Augustine, the new Homewood Suites by Hilton St. Augustine, set on the banks of the San Sebastian River, opened in Spring 2021and features 117 guest rooms. Hidden Harbor Marina is located on-site, and St. Augustine’s historic attractions, dining and unique shopping are within walking distance.
At the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club the newly restored historic Ocean House and Peyton House offer 41 new oceanfront guest rooms and suites. The resort offers multiple dining venues for guests to enjoy. And in these times of social distancing, the popular Surf Deck Grille, which sits on the sand’s edge offers full-service lunch and dinner with a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. The campus-style layout of the resort provides guests a real sense of confidence and comfort, as they don’t have to go up and down elevators or crowded hallways to access guest rooms and resort amenities. And the resort blends classic European Leisure, nostalgia, and friendly competition with the debut of the new sun-dappled Croquet Lawn and Bocce Court for guests.
Live Music has Returned.
This year, we can all agree on one thing: it’s time to get together and celebrate some live music on Florida’s Historic Coast! And live music is happening here this fall. Locals and visitors can catch their favorite musicians at North Florida’s most unique and popular concert venues.
In September, the popular Sing Out Loud Festival, St. Augustine’s annual month of music returns. Now in its fifth year, Sing Out Loud Festival brings scores of local, regional and nationally-renowned performers to various stages and parks throughout Florida’s Historic Coast. Each weekend from September 10 – 26 free concerts take place, and there are even some fund-raising performances at The St. Augustine Amphitheatre that give back to the community. This year’s featured performers include TLC and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Parquet Courts, Yola, Patty Griffin, Kevin Morby and along with dozens of other locally and nationally acclaimed performers.
Also this Fall, The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall will be host to performances including Lindsey Buckingham, Edwin McCain, Pablo Cruise, Justin Hayward, and many more. The St. Augustine Amphitheatre, the largest outdoor concert hall between Atlanta and Miami, will host Cody Johnson, Glass Animals, John Legend, Brantley Gilbert and many other of today’s popular performers. The Colonial Oak Music Park in downtown St. Augustine features free weekend performances by local up-and-coming local artists in a relaxed outdoor atmosphere where visitors can walk right in and enjoy free performances while.
More New Ways to Experience Culture, Art, History, Food and Fun
In response to a growing devotion to Our Lady of Leche whose image graces the first Marian Shrine established in the United States at Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, there will be a canonical coronation on October 10, 2021. In a liturgical celebration at the National Shrine, many will gather as a pious institutional act on behalf of the Pope, bestows an ornamental crown upon the statue of Jesus and Mary. In preparation for this glorious occasion, the Historic Chapel is undergoing a restoration and will re-open at the ceremony.
Learn about the under-the-radar story of the African American experience in St. Augustine. Visitors can learn and experience the important African American story at Fort Mose, the first free African American settlement in North America, and the incredible journey through the first 455 years of history at the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, whose newest exhibit includes Lincolnville Lifeways, which explores the bustling Lincolnville neighborhood in the mid-20th century through the eyes of its inhabitants. This year-long celebration of the history and culture of Black Americans living and working in St. Augustine is showcased in “Resilience: Black Heritage in St. Augustine.” This series of virtual and live programs is a community project celebrating 455+ years of Black stories and contributions in St. Augustine. In addition to the calendar of events, the Resilience program provides a complete listing of collaborative sites, museums and tours where the St. Augustine Black History story can be visited.
The City of St. Augustine and Flagler Health+ have teamed up with Bolt Mobility (Bolt) to launch the City’s first e-bikeshare program. A total of 110 all-electric-assist e-bikes will be available to residents and visitors and will increase access to transportation across the City. In the interest of public health and safety, the bikes will be sanitized daily. Riders can access and return e-bikes at 13 conveniently located transportation hubs found across the City of St. Augustine, including historic downtown, West King Street, San Marco Avenue, Lincolnville, and Davis Shores.
At the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, history lovers are encouraged to experience the new “I Lived Here, As Well” tour, returning in the Fall after a Summer hiatus, which is a performance-style tour that takes guests on a journey through time and history, as seen through the eyes of those who worked here; those invisible to the owners and guests – the servants and enslaved who also occupied this house. The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum also offers a modern-day healthful experience every Wednesday and Sunday morning with their Vinyasa Yoga on The Lawn program.
The iconic Lightner Museum in the former Alcazar Hotel recently completed an extensive renovation. The first floor of the museum features refreshed bright open spaces, and a new exhibit, Illuminate: Lightner Museum’s Stained Glass Rediscovered that features 12 newly restored stained-glass windows from the Lightner Collection, in addition to a dramatic dragonfly lamp by Tiffany Studios. The museum’s Fall 2021 exhibition , the final Lightner Local exhibit for 2021 features the work of Erika Sobrack: Suburban Echoes. Sobrack’s small-scale landscape paintings focus on domestic scenes of suburban America. Shrouded in darkness, the paintings deconstruct familiar environments, creating dream-like settings that amplify feelings of anticipation, angst, and trepidation. The exhibit will be available for viewing September 3 through October 18.
Lightner Museum’s most recent renovation includes the transformation of the historic south terrace and garden located at the south end of the historic building. The exterior spaces, scheduled to open in the Fall, feature a lively community garden and outdoor museum program space which will provide space for new and engaging programs as an outdoor a community farmer’s market; outdoor film screenings and interactive light installations; and for health and wellness programs such as yoga and fitness boot camps.
Surfing has always been a favorite pastime on the beaches of Florida’s Historic Coast. There are numerous popular spots like Vilano Beach, at St. Johns County Ocean Pier , Blowhole, and Matanzas Inlet where surfers are likely to catch the best waves. There is a whole culture in this coastal community that can be explored at the newly opened St. Augustine Surf Culture Museum. Located in the Historic Tovar House at the Oldest House Museum Complex, the interactive museum interprets local history stories through images, surf films, artifacts and more.
Sporting Events Galore
The PXG Women’s Professional Match Play Championship takes place October 25 - November 5 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine. Sixty-four of the world’s best up-and-coming players will compete with two tournaments, each with its own purse. The tournament will be a celebration of women’s initiatives on and off the course with putting clinics to executive networking events, entertainment and educational seminars, this will be an impactful two weeks for women in golf on Florida’s Historic Coast.
Pickleball is here to stay! Some describe it as a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong. But those who play it just describe it as FUN! Florida’s Historic Coast will host the Florida Georgia Pickleball Classic, October 29 – 31. Registration is now open for this fun and exciting classic tournament taking place at St. Augustine’s Treaty Park.
In 2020, the Pandemic hit during one of Florida’s Historic Coasts’ biggest events of the year, THE PLAYERS ®Championship. The tournament was the first PGA spectator event to return to the public in 2021 – with reduced capacity. THE PLAYERS Championship has the reputation as the most fan-friendly tournament on the PGA Tour, has the highest purse and has raised more than $100 million for local charities. Plans are in place for THE PLAYERS to be in full swing March 8-13, 2022. Daily tickets and Hospitality Packages are now available.
Getting here is getting a little easier in 2021.
Florida’s Historic Coast remains an easy access drive destination, but there is great air service available via Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), approximately 50 minutes north of St. Augustine and 30 minutes from Ponte Vedra, and Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) is approximately 50 minutes to the south. Both airports are serviced by all major carriers.
New for 2021, JetBlue now has non-stop daily flights between Los Angeles and Jacksonville; and new daily non-stop flights will begin in September between Austin, Texas, and Jacksonville. Also, Silver Airways now provides non-stop, twice a week flights from Jacksonville to and from New Orleans, Greenville-Spartanburg, and Ft. Lauderdale. Frontier Airlines will begin offering three non-stop weekly flights between Jacksonville and San Juan starting November 1, 2021. While American Airlines offers daily non-stop service to and from Dallas/Fort Worth and Daytona Beach, as well as between Philadelphia and Daytona Beach, making it just a little easier to get to Florida’s Historic Coast.
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