Florida’s Historic Coast includes St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, and Ponte Vedra Beach, home to the PGA TOUR and THE PLAYERS Championship. This northeast Florida destination with its 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches has been a favorite Florida destination for more than 450 years. And there are always new adventures to be had.
What’s New Attractions & Tours
St. Augustine may be known for its history, but each district of this lively seaside city has a personality all its own. The St. Johns Cultural Council has just released a new guide to help visitors get to know each of St. Augustine’s unique neighborhoods, and how to best explore them. The digital guide is available with a downloadable itinerary of not-to-be-missed stops and experiences.
This year the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park celebrates its 125th Anniversary with a wide-range of celebrations and special events, most notably the opening of a brand-new attraction, Oasis on the Nile. This newest exhibit showcases Nile crocodiles and feeding shows, bi-level crocodile viewing opportunities and exhibits of Egyptian artifacts and replicas of famous antiquities. In September 2019, the park will be adding a sloth exhibit. The new residents, Teddy and Grizzly are Hoffman’s two-toed sloths recently acquired from Busch Gardens. Guests visiting the exhibit will be invited to give the creatures pieces of fruit or vegetable while they learn about the conservation of this species and other animals as well as the rain forest in general.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium in St. Augustine recently opened the Jungle Room where guests can see numerous interactive exhibits and play hands-on games. The “Dancing Mask” exhibit allows guests to create their own jungle apparel while dancing to jungle sounds and tones, and the “Pranks of Nature” exhibit allows guests to create their own version of animals in nature.
Marineland Dolphin Adventure is now part of Dolphin Discovery. The attraction’s new Behind the Seas Park Pass includes a single admission price where guests can watch the park’s famous dolphins, journey “below the decks” and through the history of Marineland, and see hundreds of exotic species. Visitors to Marineland can experience a series of Dolphin interaction programs designed to their budget and level of adventure.
Lightner Museum, located in the former Hotel Alcazar, marks its 70th Anniversary and the hotel opening’s 130th Anniversary by sharing a series special tours. The Upstairs Downstairs Tour shows guests what it was like to stay and work at the Alcazar Hotel during the Gilded Age.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is always one of the area’s top attractions. New this year is the Maritime Archaeology & Education Center with its conservation lab, research library and x-ray room. The lab provides a walk-thru viewing room to see archaeologists working to conserve their finds from the waters off our coast.
What’s New with Lodging
Discover a new St. Augustine lodging experience, La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham- St. Augustine Historic Area. This modern boutique style hotel is the newest hotel property to open in the oldest city in the USA, offering both business and leisure travelers a prime location with convenient amenities like free WiFi, complimentary breakfast, a meeting room, and outdoor pool.
And the destination’s newest hotel resort is Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort. The resort has 180 two-room suites with a private bedroom and separate living room; more than 7,000 square feet of event space; a resort-style pool with full-service poolside cabanas, guest bicycles, a free shuttle service to the St. Augustine Historic District, and an on-site signature restaurant. Guests will enjoy basking in the Florida sunshine poolside and at the 500 feet of beachfront, which is nestled between the St. Augustine Beach Ocean Pier Park and the 1,600-acre Anastasia State Park.
The all-new Guy Harvey Resort on St. Augustine Beach is now open! Following a multi-million dollar renovation, the newly re-branded oceanfront resort features 4,000 square feet of event space including banquet rooms, meetings space, and outdoor event space. The Guy Harvey Resort Brand specializes in providing organized adventures in the destination, from historic off-site venues to outdoor adventures. Beachside amenities include a Tiki Bar, Santiago’s Florida Kitchen & Craft Brand Guy Harvey’s Surf Shack.
What’s New with Food and Beverage
Whether it’s food you love or food you’d love to try, Florida’s Historic Coast is a destination full of flavor. New this year is a website detailing culinary experiences that focus on the heritage, agriculture and bounty of fresh local seafood.
St. Augustine has quickly become a foodie favorite destination. Recently named the “#1 Foodie Town in the South” by Southern Living Magazine, there are dozens of great eateries throughout the historic city and on the beaches. One of the newest places to enjoy local eats and is the Village Garden Food Truck Park.
The St. Augustine Distillery has become one of the hottest spots in town. The Distillery utilizes Florida ingredients to produce whiskey, rum, vodka, gin and bourbon in hand crafted small batches. Take a tour, get free samples and learn about the many local products that share in the success of Florida’s most successful distillery. St. Augustine Distillery spirits are served in dozens of the area’s craft cocktail bars.
There are several craft beer tap rooms where locals and visitors alike can enjoy local IPAs and Ales. Dog Rose Brewing Co., Ancient City Brewing, Old Coast Ales, and Bog Brewing, among others have made a splash. St. Augustine has two new wine rooms. The Carrera Wine Cellar, where there is no limit to the themed wine classes offered, Casa de Vino 57, where guests can sip on delicious Florida wines in a historic secret garden, and the new Bin 39 Wine Bar at the St. George Inn, pouring wines from Sonoma and Napa valleys.
Music, history and booze merge into a fun and tasty experience at Prohibition Kitchen. Located on St. George Street in the heart of the historic district, guests will enjoy an escape into the clandestine, mysterious and, yes, illegal world of flapper dresses, speakeasies, moonshine, and swing. The menu features snack and small plates along with a selection of craft burgers and sandwiches while the bar offers the best in craft spirits and cocktail creations inspired by the prohibition era.
What’s New with Art and Music
Recently ranked as the #2 in the US and #3 worldwide amphitheatre according to Pollstar Magazine, The St. Augustine Amphitheatre provides an impressive stage for world-renowned artists. The Amp recently opened the Front Porch concert space to add even more performances to the schedule. And the “Amp’s” new Backyard Stage events - which take place in a small staged area behind the venue – are free or low cost and feature up-and-coming bands with food trucks and local artists displaying their wares. The newest music venue, The Colonial Oak Music Park, offers free concerts in downtown St. Augustine and cocktail stations serving locally produced ales, wines and spirits.
Each weekend in September 2019, the 3rd Annual Sing Out Loud Festival will present dozens of free concerts at multiple venues. Featured performers include Kacey Musgraves, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jenny Lewis, Phosphorescents and many other contemporary performers.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. For information call 800-653-2489 or go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com.
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