St Augustine – Ponte Vedra
It all started with a rumor. But the truth would prove far more rewarding in the end. Legend has it 16th-century Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León was in Puerto Rico when he heard of a mystical healing spring that would restore the youth of anyone who drank from it – the Fountain of Youth. So, in 1513, he led the first known European expedition to La Florida. Part of this story is absolutely true – he really set out to explore the area on behalf of the Spanish Crown – but that bit about the magical fountain? Less than true. Modern historians have not found an ounce of evidence to support the story. Perhaps the truest of all was that Ponce de León had happened upon a distinctive part of the world that was worth visiting again and again. And that’s what we now know and love as Florida’s Historic Coast®.
More than 500 years later, St. Augustine | Ponte Vedra is still very much worth exploring, and visitors to one of the oldest cities in America continue to experience the magical ambience of this storied slice of Florida. From highly rated restaurants and intriguing attractions to historic sites and beautiful beaches, you’ll want to take your time discovering it all.
Speaking of beaches, you’ll find 42 miles of unspoiled Atlantic coastline free of condos and high-rises. What you won’t find are shadows darkening those peach-and-cinnamon coquina sands, spoiling your tan. Whether it’s family fun in the sun, a romantic walk by the sea or a day of reflection and relaxation to the soothing sounds of the surf, the beaches of St. Augustine | Ponte Vedra have been calling to travelers since the days of Ponce de León.
Head to Ponte Vedra Beach – one of CNN’s 22 Can’t-Miss U.S. Beaches – for elegant resorts, indulgent spas and world-class golf courses stretched out along the shore. Or saunter over to St. Augustine Beach – named a Top 10 Beach in the U.S. by TripAdvisor users – packed with sunny accommodations, seaside restaurants and a beachfront park with an impressive fishing pier, pavilion, splash park and sand volleyball courts. And there are yet more beaches to enjoy: historic Vilano Beach, family-friendly Anastasia State Park, picturesque Butler Beach and serene Crescent Beach.
Looking for a bit of adventure? Take a turn through the Pirate and Treasure Museum to see the nation’s largest collection of pirate artifacts and learn about St. Augustine’s swashbuckling past. Or take to the trees for some high-flying Florida fun at Crocodile Crossing, a thrilling zip line that soars above the world-famous St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Be certain you hang on tight, because there are bound to be some pretty hungry onlookers below!
Adventurous foodies will love exploring the diverse culinary scene as well. Authentic cuisine, a year-round abundance of fresh seafood, and inspiration drawn from a rich cultural heritage combine in palate-pleasing ways. It’s possible to savor the worldly influences of Spain, France, Italy, Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean – all within the span of a few historic blocks. Collectively, the chefs of St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra routinely bring this world of flavor to northeast Florida. Try a variety of tantalizing tastes in oceanfront seafood restaurants, Old Florida hideaways and quaint farm-to-table favorites. And, delicious food and wine tours abound if you’d like to make your visit a moveable feast.
So, if you’ve heard a rumor that Florida’s Historic Coast® is brimming with gorgeous beaches, engaging attractions and enticing eateries, then you’ve heard right. And it’s all only two hours from Orlando.
Start exploring for yourself at FloridasHistoricCoast.com.