Summertime visitors to Florida’s Historic Coast are discovering a wide array of exciting new attractions and tours to choose from – all in an authentic setting of sun and fun in one of America’s most-historic destinations.
Located along 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches on the Sunshine State’s beautiful northeast shore, Florida’s Historic Coast features the timeless charm of the Nation’s Oldest City, the luxurious beachfront resorts of Ponte Vedra, the World Golf Hall of Fame, more than a dozen outstanding golf courses, and exciting eco-adventures.
16th Century Boat Yard: Just in time for the upcoming 500th Anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of La Florida, master marine craftsmen in St. Augustine have created an authentic 16th century Spanish boat yard on the grounds of the historic Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Using centuries-old techniques, they are building from scratch a chalupa – a small coastal boat used by the Spaniards for trading and military purposes. When finished and launched, the yard will begin construction of a caravel – the same type vessel that brought Ponce just offshore from here on his 1513 voyage that resulted in the discovery and naming of Florida. In addition to the authentic boat yard, re-enactors portray Spanish military men of the 16th century who once occupied these same grounds. There’s even an authentic cannon firing several times daily and a re-constructed Timucuan Indian village, complete with re-enactors portraying these original Floridians. Also new is an impressive boardwalk that gives visitors an unobstructed view of the extensive salt marsh, the historic grounds and the neighboring Great Cross – the tallest free-standing cross in the Western Hemisphere – located on the grounds of the historic Mission Nombre de Dios. Of course, while at the site, don’t forget to take a sip from the legendary Fountain of Youth.
El Conquistador: After its first season of operation, the El Conquistador speedboat has returned to Matanzas Bay with an all-new 30-minute tour featuring higher speeds and tighter turns that are sure to give passengers the thrill of a lifetime. Plus, the 60-minute, narrated historical tour provides just the right mix of historic sights, swashbuckling lore and high-speed fun!
Castillo de San Marcos: Through Labor Day, this impressive Spanish fortress will be open an additional hour daily – closing at 6:15 p.m. Visitors to the Castillo de San Marcos can experience authentic 18th century cannon and musket firings every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 & 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Plus, by late August, impressive new exhibits will be unveiled. These free-standing exhibits will tell the story of the Castillo and St. Augustine with an emphasis on specific individuals and through subject matter such as construction, weapons and the soldiers’ experiences.
Archaeology at the Visitor Information Center: A new exhibit at the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center on San Marco Avenue offers a look into the extraordinary life of the Nation’s oldest city through a collection of 58 artifacts – many of which are on display for the first time. Organized into displays focusing on various aspects daily life, the exhibit offers items commonly associated with home life, military lifestyle, and entertainment including games and tavern items. These include buttons, pottery, eating and cooking utensils, a 1650 bocce ball, musket balls, a bayonet and much more. The free exhibit is open daily from 8:30a.m. to 5:30 p.m. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday, City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt and his volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.
Vilano Beach Sunset Celebration: The newly-renovated and excitement-infused Vilano Beach Town Center now features a special Sunset Celebration from 3 p.m. until dusk on the first Saturday of each month. Located just across Matanzas Bay from St. Augustine, the celebration features live music, dozens of market vendors and a spectacular sunset experience from the Vilano Beach Pier. 904.540.0402
Texas Hold’em and Sara’s Crepes: Russia meets Vegas in this new addition to the acclaimed Sara’s Crepe Cafe in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district. Known for its Russian atmosphere and delicious crepes, owner Margarita Abramaov has added the thrill of genuine Texas Hold’em every Wednesday night beginning at 7 p.m. 904.810.5800
St. Augustine City Walks Tours: Recent winners of three TripAdvisor Excellence Awards for their Savory Faire, Creepy Crawl and Pub Crawl, City Walks now offer their popular History, Mystery, Mayhem and MURDER Tour nightly at 8:30 p.m. Plus, the Savory Faire Tour is now conducted daily.
St. Augustine Historic Walking Tours: “We Make History Fun” with the launch of brand new tours of St. Augustine. A tasty way to learn the history of the city is to embark on the St. Augustine Food Tour. Drink in the history of the city on the Historic Pub Tour, Pirate Pub Crawl, Spirits with Spirits – A Paranormal Pub Tour or the St Augustine Beer Experience. Family friendly tours also available — Pirates, Plunder & Parlay or St Augustine Ghosts & Legends. St. Augustine Historic Walking Tours has something new for everyone.