New discoveries await visitors

TourismSt. Augustine is the Nation’s oldest city, but visitors to this historic destination and the luxurious resorts of Ponte Vedra will find plenty that’s “new” to enjoy for fall and winter according to a media update received by Historic City News.

In addition to rediscovering the Old World charm and seaside elegance found in this unique destination on northeast Florida’s sunny shores, visitors will be adding lots of new discoveries to their “must-do” lists.

Shopping:

Shoppers stopping at St. Augustine’s outlet centers located at I-95’s exit 318 will discover new and exciting changes. For instance:

On November 7, the face of shopping in Northeastern Florida will be changed forever when Prime Outlets-St.Augustine, open the doors on a new, upscale shopping experience. The $35 million, 90,000 square-foot expansion will include 25 new stores – and the names read like a Who’s Who list of the world’s most exclusive retailers – Hugo Boss Factory Store, Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole, Cole Haan, Juicy Couture, and many others including a new 28,000 square-foot Off 5th – the outlet for upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue. The stores will offer shoppers savings of 25 to 65 percent off the regular prices. Combined with the nearly 50 high-quality retailers already located at the shopping center, the newly expanded Prime Outlets-St. Augustine will undoubtedly be ranked among the top Florida destinations preferred by discriminating shoppers everywhere.

Savvy shoppers know that a trip to St. Augustine Premium Outlets not only saves money but insures finding high quality brands. Plus, the St. Augustine Premium Outlets recently welcomed new stores including Ann Taylor Factory Store, Anne Klein, Crocs, Ecko Unltd and Levi’s & Dockers Outlet by Most. The center has a total of 85 designer and name-brand outlet stores offering 25 to 65 percent savings every day, including Banana Republic Factory Store, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Outlet, J. Crew, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Reebok, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Hilfiger and more. Shoppers can also enjoy additional savings during the After Thanksgiving Weekend Sale and by signing up for the VIP Shopper Club – there’s no cost to join and members receive exclusive savings and deals!

Accommodations:
Accommodations in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches have fervently embraced the Florida Green Lodging Program – a certification program with demanding environmental criteria that must be met before a property can be included. So far, 17 lodging providers in the destination have been certified for inclusion in the exclusive Green Lodging Program. Recent additions include the historic Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine; the AAA Five Diamond-rated Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and Lodge and Club; the Renaissance Resort, Grande Villas and Comfort Suites at World Golf Village; and La Fiesta Ocean Inn and Suites in St. Augustine Beach.

In honor of its 120th anniversary, the historic Casa Monica Hotel, www.casamonica.com, is introducing an unforgettable Sweet 16 Princess Package – the ultimate in pampering for royal parties of up to six princesses. Inspired by the 2001 visit to the Casa Monica by Queen Sophia of Spain, the girls will receive custom makeovers before being picked up by a horse-drawn carriage for a tour of the city while sipping pink “champagne” followed by dinner in a luxurious private room at the renowned 95 Cordova restaurant. After a midnight chocolate fondue indulgence and a night of beauty sleep, the princesses will be served breakfast in bed followed by a morning of soaking up the sun on the Moroccan pool deck and a professional photo session to preserve the memory of an adventure fit for Cinderella.

Attractions:
With more than 60 historic sites, impressive museums, numerous opportunities for world class golf, more than 40 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches, great fishing and tours that entertain, educate and sometimes frighten, there’s never a shortage of things to do in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra &The Beaches. This fall, visitors can re-discover their favorites from years past and discover a wide array of new opportunities for fun. For example:

Would you like to be a marine archaeologist for the day? Well, now you can aboard the schooner Momentum. Owned and operated by Outreach Sailing Adventures, www.outreachsailing.blogspot.com, the schooner takes marine archeology enthusiasts offshore from St. Augustine to gather real-time data on sunken ships by using a side-scan sonar. Participants even get a digital copy of the recorded sonar data.

SA GPS Adventure Tours also uses new technology to tell the story of the Oldest City. Participants on their walking tours use a handheld GPS to trigger the delivery of innovative experiences, on-site interpretations, compelling narratives, musical soundtracks, photographs and maps that bring the history of St. Augustine to vivid life in both English and Spanish. www.sagpstours.com.

For those who prefer a faster-paced look at history, Run St. Augustine Tours, www.runstaugustine.com, offers a morning, three-mile jog through nearly 450 years of St. Augustine history. Led by a licensed tour guide, joggers enjoy history and physical fitness in the ancient streets of the Oldest City.

If you like history on the move, but would prefer to remain seated, Solano Cycles, www.solanocycle.com, now offers two-seater scoot-coups equipped with GPS units that deliver entertaining tales about the Oldest City when the motorized two-seaters pass the relevant location.

At the St. Augustine Lighthouse, www.staugustinelighthouse.com, visitors will now be able to tour the grounds of this beautiful and historic light station while listening to English or Spanish audio presentations linked to 20 stops. For those, who prefer not to make the 219-step climb to the top of the tower, the handheld audio device will provide a “virtual” climb.

Want a behind-the scenes look at history? AdLib Luxury Tours, www.AdLibTours.com, is now offering private tours of museums, historic houses, and the St. Augustine research library where participants can view authentic items that influenced history.

Beginning November 8, visitors to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine will have an opportunity to experience “Bob Hope: Shanks for the Memory” — the largest collection of Bob Hope memorabilia ever placed on public display in a single exhibit. Hope, a member of the Hall of Fame, will be honored with more than 300 items related to the American icon’s addiction to the game of golf, his entertainment career, his USO travels entertaining United States troops and much, much more. Through December, the special exhibit “Jack Nicklaus: Golf’s Golden Champion” will provide a comprehensive look at the life and career of one of golf’s greatest champions through video presentations, stories and hundreds of artifacts. Also, items from 2006 Hall of Fame inductee Vijay Singh’s triumphant 2008 FedEx Cup Championship will be featured in a new exhibition – a practice that showcases the benefits of having Hall of Fame members enshrined while they are still active, www.wghof.com

There is little doubt that visitors to Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center, www.marineland.net, will be enthralled by the antics of Tocoi, Aqe, and Tomo — three dolphin calves born there in June and July. The calves and their mothers (Betty, Dazzle and Roxy) provide visitors with an entertaining and educational look at these fascinating marine mammals.

Dining:
Fresh seafood, Menorcan favorites featuring the destination’s signature datil peppers, Spanish tapas and the very best in New World cuisine are just some of the culinary delights enjoyed by visitors to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches. This fall, visitors will find new culinary delights awaiting discovery.

For those who enjoy spectacular views with their dining, the Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach has opened to the public its 619 Ocean View Restaurant. Located at the Cabana Beach Club, the restaurant features such signature dishes as Toasted Jasmine Crusted Ahi, Lobster Cannelloni in a sherry cream and cheese sauce, and for dessert don’t miss the Bruleed Bananas Foster Cheesecake, www.sawgrassmarriott.com .

As part of its $10 million renovation, The Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village has introduced a new restaurant called 500 South, An American Grill. Specializing in New American regional cuisine, the upscale restaurant features such diverse entrees as Filet Mignon and Shrimp Scampi, Penne Pollo and Grilled Atlantic Salmon served in a setting of chic hardwood floors, warm wood tones, and dramatic lighting, www.worldgolfrenaissance.com.

One of France’s young celebrity chefs has arrived in the Nation’s oldest city. Jean-Stephane Poinard’s authentic cuisine exudes a vibe of relaxation and chic dining at the new Bistro de Leon located in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district. Local green market ingredients inspire amazing tastes for lunch and dinner. Poinard’s culinary signature is complex flavors – in the breads and pastries too. At Bistro de Leon, feasting begins with the eyes and ends in the heart. www.bistrodeleon.com .

For more information vacation opportunities and special events in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau’s website www.Getaway4Florida.com or call 1.800.418.7529.

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