Small market of the month: Florida’s Historic Coast

Florida’s Historic Coast, also known as St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach, is where visitors find legendary history and seaside elegance, combined with complete meeting services and outstanding facilities. When it comes to choosing a memorable venue for a mid-size or small meeting, Florida’s Historic Coast is a prime destination.

St. Augustine was settled by Spanish explorers in 1565, but it has also been home to many cultures—Native American, Greek, Minorcan, French, and British. You’ll find this diversity influences everything from food to architecture, shopping to entertainment and, of course, the many festivals and special events that take place throughout the year.

Ponte Vedra is best known for its impressive natural coquina-covered beaches and access to some of the world’s finest golf facilities. The PGA Tour is headquartered here, and it’s home to TPC Sawgrass, where THE PLAYERS Championship take place each spring. The town boasts more than a dozen more championship golf courses.


Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. Florida’s Historic Coast remains an easy-to-access driving destination.

Closest major airports

Air service to Florida’s Historic Coast is available through Daytona Beach International (DAB) and Jacksonville International (JAX) airports, both less than an hour from Florida’s Historic Coast. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is just a 90-minute drive from St. Augustine.

Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Top attractions

There are more than 60 historic sites and attractions on Florida’s Historic Coast. The City of St. Augustine and its historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest Town Platte in North America, is one of the destination’s major attractions.

The Castillo de San Marcos, built by the Spanish occupants of St. Augustine between 1670 and 1695, is the oldest masonry fort in the United States and the only standing 17th-century military construction. The Castillo is on a 20.5-acre national park on St. Augustine’s Mataznas Bay, where visitors  can step inside the walls of the fort, hear cannons fly, and attend live reenactments.

Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos

Visitors can climb 219 steps to the top of the 165-foot tower at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum for breathtaking views of historic downtown St. Augustine, the beaches, and the nation’s oldest port. Discover St. Augustine’s rich maritime history at the site of Florida’s first lighthouse. In the restored keepers’ house, explore exhibits about the Coast Guard in WWII, St. Augustine, shipwrecks, and the lives of the keepers and their families.

Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, built in 1888 by Henry Flagler. Today it is home to one of the finest collections of fine and decorative 19th-century art in the country. The museum is open to the public seven days a week and features self-guided tours and tours by reservation for groups. It also holds artifacts including natural history exhibits, Tiffany Glass, and a Victorian village.

Visitors can see every crocodilian species, the rare white alligator, exotic birds, reptiles, and monkeys at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. It is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, as thousands of wading birds come to roost each spring during nesting season.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm
St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Stroll down Aviles Street, one of the oldest streets in the United States, and discover untold history as guides demonstrate “cutting-edge” colonial surgery techniques at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum. Even local shops bring history alive, with many antiquarian bookstores, antique shops, and art galleries located in historic buildings.

Mission Nombre de Dios, 101 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine is the historical site of the first parish Mass and first shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United States. The Mission Nombre de Dios traces its origins to the founding of the city of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. On Sept. 8, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Aviles landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church.

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, at 11 Magnolia Dr. in St. Augustine, is not a roadside attraction, but an important part of American history. The park is the site of America’s first colony, settled by Spaniards in 1565, and founded by Pedro Menendez 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before Plymouth Rock. There is so much to do at this 15-acre park: Drink from Ponce’s Spring of Eternal Hope, see stars in the planetarium, visit the Timucua Indian Village of Seloy, meet with the blacksmith who helped make the tools Spaniards need to survive and thrive, and hear the Spanish Cannon roar!

The area offers several small breweries and draft rooms, as well as the San Sebastian Winery, all of which have become very popular in recent years. Among the most popular tours are the St. Augustine Distillery and  City Gate Spirits, both award-wining crafters of fine spirits.

There are numerous tours that provide a glimpse of the area from the water. The Schooner Freedom, Scenic Cruises, and Red Boat Tours are just some of the available tours of the Matanzas Bay. There are also cool water tours outside of the downtown area. A favorite water adventure is Sea Serpent Tours, whose mission is to provide historic and ecological tours of the beautiful inland waterways. The airboat tours aboard the Sea Dragon on the St. Johns River are some of the most thrilling experiences around.

The Clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach offers guided tours led by golf-enthusiast storytellers through the 13,000-square-foot building. In addition, they take visitors on a cart tour of the 16th, 17th (famous Island hole), and 18th holes of the PLAYERS Stadium Course, where THE PLAYERS Championship takes place each year in March. The iconic building has a fantastic restaurant,  Nineteen, and plenty of conference meeting space.

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum is also located on Florida’s Historic Coast. The Hall of Fame celebrates the history of the game and the legacies of its 160 members through artifacts, personal memorabilia, photography, video, and interactive exhibits.

Meeting spaces

There many unique venues to host small meetings on Florida’s Historic Coast, but, let’s start with the most obvious:

Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa: 514 guest rooms and suites, and 61,000 square feet of meeting and convention space
Renaissance World Golf Resort: 301 guest rooms and 36,849 square feet of meeting space

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club: 262 guest rooms and 14,017 square feet of meeting space

The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra: 66 rooms and 6,000 square feet of meeting space

Casa Monica Resort & Spa: 138 guest rooms and suites and 12,000 square feet of versatile meeting space in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district

Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort: 217 guest suites and 10,318 square feet of meeting space

Coming In January 2022: Hyatt Place at Vilano Beach, with 120 guest rooms and 10,044 square feet of meeting space.

Featured restaurants

There are scores of fantastic restaurants and dining options on Florida’s Historic Coast. Some of the most popular that can accommodate groups and meetings include:

St. Augustine Independent Restaurant Association: Includes nearly a dozen independently owned restaurants that feature authentic St. Augustine cuisine experiences.

The Columbia Restaurant: Family owned for more than 115 years, the Columbia has earned acclaim for Old-World charm and award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine and wine. Enjoy century-old family recipes in their Mediterranean-style dining rooms, filled with hundreds of hand-painted tiles and Spanish-style fountains.

The Reef Restaurant: The very best in seafood, steaks, and creative cuisine prepared and presented in a casually elegant seaside ambiance. Ocean views from every table.

Cap’s on the Water: Featuring new coastal cuisine, pairing fresh local seafood with traditional Southern, as well as Mediterranean flavors. A large outdoor deck, a sunset oyster bar, a full bar, and an intimate indoor dining room all offer breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Castillo Restaurant: Located in the new Renaissance St. Augustine Historic Downtown Hotel, the Castillo has created a sophisticated and compelling signature restaurant concept that appeals to upscale local dining and entertainment. The Castillo features local-inspired flavors highlighting the area’s seafood, produce, craft breweries, and distilleries.

Valley Smoke BBQ: Valley Smoke BBQ welcomes guests to its decks and dining rooms overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. The view is as stunning as the menu: slow-smoked BBQ; Southern-inspired seafood, chicken, and venison selections; and USDA Prime Steaks cooked over a wood-fired grill.

Palm Valley Fish Camp: Part of the Southern Table Hospitality Family with five area restaurants, the Palm Valley Fish Camp is located on the Intracoastal. It is the result of a vision to create a restaurant with a neighborhood feel, the freshest seafood, amazing views, and old favorite entrees with creative, new twists.


William McBroom, Director of Conference Sales
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau
29 Old Mission Avenue, St. Augustine, Fla., 32084
Direct Line: 904-209-4432     Cell: 904-687-8861  or

For more information on events, activities, holiday getaways, and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at, become a fan on Facebook, or call 1-800-653-2489.

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