Exploring Florida's Historic Coast
WITH THE START of summer just a few weeks away, many Charlotteans will hit the road and head to the Carolina coastline for an annual beach vacation. For those willing to spend a couple extra hours in the car, Florida's "Historic Coast"—an area filled with 450 years of history, Spanish-colonial architecture and 42 miles of wide sandy beaches provides a unique alternative to the summer vacation routine.
The stretch of shoreline between Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine make up Florida's Historic Coast area. St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America. It's charming historic district is lined with cobble stone streets, quaint cafes, and the Castillo de San Marcos—the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Further north along the coast, the Ponte Vedra Beach area is home to elegant resorts and golf courses.
Where to Stay
For a resort setting with direct access to the beach, Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts operate two properties in the area—the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club. Each is a destination unto itself with multiple pools, 36 holes of golf, a plush spa, fitness classes, multiple restaurants, and summer camp programs for kids. The AAA 5-Diamond-rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has long been a family vacation favorite in Florida with a history that dates back to 1928. The Lodge & Club is a bit more intimate, with several suite room types that come with a kitchen. Guests staying at either property get reciprocal access to the pools, activities and amenities at both hotels. June stays are 15% off for reservations made by May 31.
Things to Do
The mix of attractions in the area make this stretch of Florida more than just a beach destination. An entire day can be spent meandering through St. Augustine's forts, museums, and cobblestone streets. Nature-lovers flock to Anastasia State Park for bird-watching and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park to spot alligators and other indigenous wildlife. The golf courses in Ponte Vedra Beach offer some of Florida's most challenging and scenic layouts.
How to Get There
From Charlotte, American Airlines operates direct flights into Jacksonville, Fla. From Jacksonville, its a 30-minute drive to Ponte Vedra Beach and a 45-minute drive to St. Augustine.
For those heading down by car, the drive time from Charlotte is 5 hours and 45 minutes.
For more information on the area and resort options, click here.