Sure, the Orlando area is full of family-friendly attractions. But just a short drive away, Florida’s Historic Coast offers adventures for the entire family and gets you out of the bustle of Central Florida. Here is a taste of Florida’s family-friendly Historic Coast.
The Players® Championship March 12-15 at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach is clearly one of the hallmark tournaments for the PGA TOUR. But organizers of the event have moved toward family inclusion in recent years. In fact, they now offer the “Family Plan” ticket packages. While world-class golfers are on tap, so is family inclusion with ticket packages that feature food and parking packages and The Players specifically allows fans 15 and under to get into the tournament free, when accompanied by a paying adult.
Kids zones, autograph zones and other fun kid-friendly events surrounding golf are planned throughout the event at what many consider the unofficial “fifth major” golf tournament on the PGA Tour.
The Players is just one example of family-inclusive features to Florida’s Historic Coast. Ponte Vedra has many choices in which the kids can have fun and that list is long. But here are some of the most popular:
Bird Island, which is adjacent to the St. Johns County Public Library Branch in Ponte Vedra is a family favorite. A boardwalk rings a small lake behind the library on Florida A1A at Library Road. A hammock of trees and a small island in the lake provide some of the most accessible and diverse bird watching in the area. Oh, there’s also a maze of hedges and sculptures to enjoy. Better yet, it’s free.
On the nature angle, Guana River State Park just to the south has outdoors of two kinds: You can get up close to the natural habitat where nature trails take you. Or you can cross Florida A1A and you’ll find pristine beaches with wide-open spaces and no buildings. It’s a preserve.
Fishing with the family is universal as it can get. The thing about Ponte Vedra is that there is a wide variety of options from the Guana River to the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean. Fishing is ingrained in the area. It’s tough to pick one spot over another and if you’re lucky, you might find a secret spot.
Just to the south in St. Augustine, it’s a family-fun panacea. Touring historic sites is central to visiting St. Augustine. But there are options specifically geared toward the whole gang:
The entire St. Augustine downtown historic district is a prime target for the family. St. George Street offers an easy stroll through the history of the Nation’s Oldest City. The Old Jail, Castillo de San Marcos, the Pirate Museum, Flagler College and a long list of other sites are within reach by simply taking a casual stroll through the heart of this scene or hopping on one of the many options of tourist trains and trolleys.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park is right out of “Old Florida” loaded with their most famous amphibious attraction. But the site also is a functional zoo with monkeys, snakes, birds and other animals in exhibits and featured wildlife shows. Don’t miss the newest residents: Hoffman two-toed sloths, Grizzly and Teddy.
Anastasia State Park has 1,600 acres of Florida glory. Beaches that put you in touch with how Florida was originally seen bring to life our state’s most valuable commodity. But the park also has bicycle trails and a small “Salt Run” lagoon and salt marsh. Within the park is also Anastasia Watersports where you can rent whatever watercraft you feel comfortable with from standup paddleboards to kayaks. If you’re a beginner, this is the best place to learn.
St. Augustine Lighthouse is the very icon of Florida’s Historic Coast and it’s also a treasure fit for the entire family. Tour the historic lighthouse tender’s building. Learn about the spirits that lurk there. And for the prime vista of the area, climb 219 steps all the way to the top of the lighthouse. This feature is not only spectacular in its history and views, but it’s also guaranteed to tire out the kids by the end of the day.
There is so much to do on Florida’s family-friendly Historic Coast, we hope this list gives you a place to start! Happy vacationing!