Yes, you’ve been there, done that. You’ve even got the selfies to prove it. But there’s so much more to this little paradise we call Florida’s Historic Coast, we thought we’d share some of our favorite–and sometimes, hidden–treasures. Here’s our top 10 list, in no particular order:
1. Exploring Rock Beach at Marineland. This is a photographer’s paradise. Just south of the famous attraction featuring dolphins, sharks, and tortoises, look for a parking lot and boardwalk on the oceanside. Head south on the boardwalk and you’ll come upon one of the most amazing rock formations on the Florida coastline. We recommend a breakfast picnic to capture the sunrise over the rocks and water, so be sure and bring your camera!
2. Feeding the sloths at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Have you met Teddy and Grizzly? These Hoffman two-toed sloths are the latest arrivals at the park and are so adorable you’ll want to hold them. Did you know you can? Through a Rainforest Sloth Encounter, visitors can touch, feed, and learn more about these remarkable animals.
3. Tour Fort Matanzas National Monument. This is one of the best-kept secrets on Florida’s Historic Coast. A visit to the top of the coquina watchtower, built by the Spanish in 1742, offers inspiring views of dunes, marshes, and maritime forests. But the best part might be the trip to the fort via ferry. It’s free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 to 3:30, weather permitting.
4. Flights at one of our four hometown craft breweries. St. Augustine is home to some of the finest little breweries on the Florida coast, offering a wonderful opportunity to slake your thirst as you explore ancient history. Try an IPA at Dog Rose Brewing, located in the heart of Lincolnville, a stout at Ancient City Brewing, some pale ales and porters at Old Coast Ales on Anastasia Island, and a Belgian style brew at BOG Brewing Company on West King Street.
5. Playing the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. How many people can say they played where the players play? Whether you’re an armchair golfer or a wanna-be champion, you can test your prowess at the iconic island hole at the Stadium Course, home of THE PLAYERS® Championship. As seen on TV
6. Walking trails at Bird Island Park. Ponte Vedra may be more famous for its fairways, but this jewel of a park is a treat for nature lovers with its gazebo, boardwalk, and countless trails dotted with sculptures and water features. A great spot for bird watching, picnicking and simply enjoying the outdoors. Be sure to take a look, and lots of pictures, at the intricate mosaic work surrounding the small amphitheater.
7. Climbing the watchtower at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Between the strutting peacocks and roaring cannons and legendary spring waters, it’s easy to miss one of the top spots on our list. If you did, you must return and climb the watchtower at the end of the park. The view overlooking the marsh is simply breathtaking and you can imagine how this spot looked when the Native Timucuan Indians lived here centuries ago.
8. Touring Lincolnville. History is everywhere here and it’s alive and well in the Historic District neighborhood of Lincolnville. Founded in 1866 by newly-freed slaves after the Civil War, Lincolnville is rich with culture, art, and cuisine. Take a stroll along the residential streets, stop in for some fresh biscuits at The Blue Hen and discover more about the history of the area during the Civil Rights movement as you follow the 31 markers along the ACCORD Freedom Trail.
9. Licking Hyppo Pops on St. George Street. They’re as iconic in St. Augustine as the marble lions on the bridge. These gourmet ice pops are not just a must, they are a must-repeat, as flavors and combinations are constantly being added to the great selection. Tried one? There are 450 more.
10. Shark tooth hunting on Vilano Beach. With 42 miles of beach, chances are you got to enjoy the sand and surf on Florida’s Historic Coast. But did you also look for treasures on the beach? We’re talking the fossilized kind. Shark teeth are fun to search for and there is plenty yet to be discovered on our coquina sand beaches. After a storm or when the water is receding, look for triangular shapes with a dark patina. It just might be the lucky charm you’ve been looking for.
We can go on and on. In the meantime, be sure to request your Travel Guide and start making plans for your next exploration on Florida’s Historic Coast.