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DREAMSCAPES SPRING/SUMMER 2019
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FLORIDA'S HISTORIC COAST
 
(2019 - Spring Issue)

Writer: STEVE WINSTON



St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the USA . . . in fact, so old that it was already 211 years old when the Republic of the United States was created.

When Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés waded ashore here on September 8, 1565, he claimed this New World for Spain and founded the city of St. Augustine. However, he wasn’t the first person to set eyes on this land; Native Americans of the Timucua tribe had lived here for centuries.

Today, St. Augustine is 454 years old. The city treasures its historical sites, attractions, national monuments and beautiful old churches, and nourishes its colourful history on some streets that don’t look much differently than they did a few centuries ago. The region is now known as Florida’s Historic Coast.

Whether Menéndez realized it or not, the area is blessed with long stretches of the best beaches in the U.S. And today, the area also features some of the most famous championship golf courses and resorts in the country.

There are more than 67 kilometres of beaches between Ponte Vedra in the north to Marineland in the south. In fact, this beautiful stretch of shoreline has been listed among TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 Beaches.”

Ponte Vedra Beach is home to the PGA TOUR, TPC Sawgrass and THE PLAYERS Championship. There are more than a dozen beautiful courses in the region, a few of which skirt the Atlantic Ocean. Hotels and resorts in the area range from family-style and B&Bs to luxury resorts. St. Augustine is also where you’ll find the World Golf Hall of Fame. 

SEE, PLAY, EXPERIENCE . . .OR JUST RELAX

St. Augustine takes its history seriously and playfully. Historical family attractions include the Colonial Quarter, Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. Each venue offers delightful interactive experiences for kids and brings history to life.

Although Ponce de León’s search for the Fountain of Youth is a legend, visitors will find true history and beautiful grounds at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. And you don’t want to miss Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum. Just a short drive south along the picturesque A1A from St. Augustine, Marineland Dolphin Adventure combines conservation, education and the chance to interact with dolphins and other sea life, making it a must-do experience for all ages.

Florida’s Historic Coast is a treasure trove for nature and outdoor enthusiasts as well. There’s great fishing from shore or on water. Native bird species abound along the Great Florida Birding Trail. Coastal areas and state parks offer perfect opportunities to work up a sweat while admiring the wildlife and Florida’s natural beauty as you hike, bike and swim. You’ll also find quiet getaway spots, where you can just relax and enjoy the view and a cool drink from the comfort of a beach towel.

In addition, both St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach have numerous ecotour operators who will take you out into natural surroundings you’ve probably never seen before.

Then there are the beaches. Ahhh . . . the beaches.

Listen to the gentle rhythm of waves lapping the shore on beaches such as Ponte Vedra Beach, where a life-size statue of Ponce de León and a viewing platform overlook the land he sighted so long ago. Or how about the white-sand beach at Anastasia State Park, one of Florida’s most beautiful, where five kilometres are reserved solely for walkers and dunes hide any hint of civilization? Prefer a bit more action? St. Augustine Beach features a variety of accommodation, numerous seaside restaurants, a beachfront park, a fishing pier and a splash park for the kids. 

SPECIAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

The spring/summer 2019 calendar here is filled with colourful festivals and special events. 

From April 12 to June 16, the Lightner Museum is presenting an exhibition called Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist and Works on Paper by the Artist & His Circle, showcasing drawings, prints, photographs, monotypes (old-time prints created by paint or ink on glass or metal), correspondence and sculpture from a private collection.

Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest runs from April 24–28. The event is headquartered at St. Anastasia Church, but actually takes place at multiple venues as this festival includes 110 events displaying stunning birding and outdoor photography on exhibit and hosts notable nature and wildlife photographers from around the world. 

 Next on the event calendar is St. Augustine’s Romanza Festivale of the Arts from May 3–12. This is an arts/culture festival presented by St. Augustine and St. Johns County cultural organizations and businesses, and features dance performances, concerts, art shows and stage productions throughout the city.      

FREE SUMMERTIME FUN

Every summer, St. Augustine stages numerous events, many of which are free.

The Music by the Sea Concert Series takes place every Wednesday evening at the St. Johns County Pier Pavilion from mid-May through September.

Concerts in the Plaza runs from Memorial Day through Labour Day, with free live performances every Thursday evening in St. Augustine’s historic Plaza de la Constitución.

Florida’s Historic Coast never forgets the kids when it comes to summer entertainment. Both Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum and the Colonial Quarter show free movies and offer special activities for children each week in June and July.

A VERY SPECIAL PLACE

The word is out about this very special corner of Florida, with its European vibe, colourful history, family-friendly attractions, outdoor recreational opportunities and pristine beaches.

In 2018, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & the Beaches garnered a ton of media recognition. The Huffington Post listed St. Augustine as No. 2 among American cities with a European vibe. TravelPulse called it “America’s Most Charming Old City.” BuzzFeed included it on its list of “Most Amazing Places to Take Kids in all 50 States.” Parents magazine listed St. Augustine as one of the “Top Five Family-Friendly Destinations That Mimic Your Dream Vacation.” And St. Augustine Beach was recently selected for three consecutive years as a Top 10 Beach in the U.S. 

Florida’s Historic Coast is the perfect getaway, with a distinct flavour all its own.

Travel Planner:

For more information and to plan your vacation along Florida’s Historic Coast, visit FloridasHistoricCoast.com.

 
 
 
 
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