Encompassing St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra, Florida’s Historic Coast is a hidden gem along the Atlantic. The oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine has more than 450 years of history — and none of it was boring. A short drive north, the upscale Ponte Vedra is known for its golf courses. Though these communities relatively small, they both offer much to do.
Step into the Past
Dive right into St. Augustine’s history on the oldest city’s oldest thoroughfare. The Ximenez-Fatio House on Aviles Street was a boarding house in the 1800s. Designated as a Florida Heritage Landmark in 2012, it is now a museum decorated in the period of its heyday. Visitors can explore the guest rooms, kitchen, slave quarters and more. Or come back at night to meet some of the ghosts in residence.
Set out on the Intracoastal Waterway on Sabrage, a 63-foot power catamaran for an eco-cruise or a Nights of Lights tour. The boat holds up to 110 people and cruises past the St. Augustine downtown and the Castillo de San Marcos, a fortress built in the late 1600s by the Spanish. The water itself holds sights, too: You might even spot a pod of dolphins.
Take in the Scenery on Foot
On the way up to Ponte Vedra, stop at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve — or the GTM Reserve for short. There you'll find plenty of trails for hiking or biking through the 76,760 acres of preserved land. Pants, long sleeves and bug spray are highly recommended.
Bring your clubs and play on the same course as golf legends like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus. The longtime home of the PGA's annual Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass features two golf courses: Pete Dye’s Valley layout and the Players Stadium Course, which was designed with Dye's help. Although Sawgrass looks like an exclusive country club (and a French château), it’s open to the public and tee times can be booked online.
Round out a busy day with a great meal. Valley Smoke in Ponte Vedra Beach serves up some seriously good barbecue. Choose between Southern classics like brisket, pulled pork, and mac and cheese. Pair your dish with a glass of bourbon, whiskey or scotch from the extensive list.