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Cruise Ship Embarkation Ports
St. Augustine &
Ponte Vedra, Florida

Sights to see & things to do

Over a half-century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, St. Augustine boasted the oldest permanent settlement in North America. Juan Ponce de León put St. Augustine 'on the map' so to speak when he came ashore in 1513 in search of the elusive Fountain of Youth and named his discovery Pascua Florida

French colonists arrived in 1562 to establish a short-lived settlement at the mouth of the St. Johns River and lay claim to the new land for France. Returning Spanish conquerors closely followed, launching their own colony and building a fortress at St. Augustine in 1565 before wiping out the French and re-establishing Spain's claim to Florida.

St. Augustine: Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Getting There
Within a day's drive of most cruise passengers residing in nearby southeastern states, St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra are south of Jacksonville and easily accessible by either Interstate Highway I-95 or the more scenic Highway A1A. For flyers, Jacksonville International Airport is served by national and regional airlines offering flights to and from most major U.S. cities and is only forty-five minutes north of St. Augustine, a half-hour drive from Ponte Vedra, and fifteen minutes from the Jacksonville cruise port at Dames Point. 

Sights to see & things to do in St. Augustine
History, culture, outdoor adventures, and beaches—all are highlights of the St. Augustine area. Well suited for family fun are a host of stimulating and educational activities to enjoy pre- or post-cruise.

St. Augustine: oldest wooden schoolhouse

USA's oldest wooden schoolhouse

Downtown St. Augustine is a living history museum, complete with the oldest wooden school house in the United States and a Colonial Spanish Quarter where docents in period dress remain in character as residents in the 1740s city-within-a-city as they chat with visitors about how they spent their day.

Getting around to sites of interest is easy on one of the narrated Old Town Trolley Tours or Sightseeing Trains. Hop off and on along the seven mile ride to tour attractions such as the Fountain of Youth archaeological park, where a sip from the ancient spring is offered and foundations and artifacts of the original colony can be viewed; the original Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, located in an 1887 Moorish Revival style mansion filled with oddities and interactive exhibits; the city gates and Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish fortress that so effectively guarded the town; and Flagler College, built as the Ponce de Leon Hotel, a winter retreat for wealthy northeasterners, by railroad tycoon and hotel baron Henry Flagler. 

Across the Bridge of Lions and a short drive from downtown, Anastasia Island's beaches are ideal for sunning and swimming. On the way to the beach, stop at the St. Augustine Lighthouse to tour the maritime museum and grounds. A climb up the 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse rewards hardy visitors with a fantastic view (followed by a 219-step climb back down!). 

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Albino alligator, appearing for the world as if carved of white chocolate

No one can leave Florida without at least seeing an alligator and a walk through the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is far preferable to encountering one by chance. From rare albino alligators and huge turtles to crocodiles, monkeys, and exotic birds, there's a lot of wildlife to observe, along with hourly shows to delight children and adults alike.

No one wants to leave St. Augustine, which accounts for the many current residents who are descendants of the original families and... the ghosts! For a surreal experience, take a twilight tour of early burial grounds or join "pirates" for a haunting cruise on a romantic schooner.

Where to stay in St. Augustine
Spread throughout downtown St. Augustine, intimate boutique hotels and historic bed and breakfast establishments are within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and sightseeing attractions. With more than 7,000 guest rooms available in St. Augustine and the surrounding area, there are accommodations suitable for every taste and budget.

Ponte Vedra: 17th hole of the Stadium Course at Sawgrass

Infamous 17th hole of the Stadium Course at Sawgrass

Sights to see & things to do in Ponte Vedra
Golf is more than a four-letter word in chic Ponte Vedra. World-class golf courses, tennis facilities, and spas draw the sybarite and sports-minded alike. Beyond the dunes there are uncrowded beaches and beach clubs with facilities designed for family pleasure.

World Golf Village anchors Ponte Vedra and provides golfers with a myriad of challenges—the "Slammer and Squire" par-72 championship course and the "King and Bear" course designed by legends of the game, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. You aren't a player? Take lessons at the PGA Tour Golf Academy. Also within the "village," even non-golfers can appreciate the World Golf Hall of Fame with its historic and interactive exhibits. For the less sporty, an IMAX® theater features entertaining and educational films suitable for all ages. 

Where to stay in Ponte Vedra
Golf devotees know they can only play the TPC Stadium Course (site of The Players Championship) if they are members or a guest at Sawgrass Marriott, but there are many more reasons to check in than golf... the spa, children's program, tennis courts with four different surfaces, and private Beach Cabana. Restaurants and lounges round out the total resort facilities.

St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & the beachSteeped in grace, charm, and tradition, the five-Diamond AAA Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has offered a full menu of resort features to discriminating guests since 1928. Two seaside 18-hole golf courses, the Racquet Club, children's program, and a state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot fitness center and 10,000 square foot spa make Ponte Vedra Inn & Club the complete family resort destination.

For even more privacy, condos, villas, and beach houses are seasonally available for rent in Ponte Vedra and at World Golf Village.

Where to eat
Trendy, fashionable, gourmet, ethnic... food doesn't have to be haute or expensive to be good! It's difficult to get a bad meal in the St. Augustine/Ponte Vedra area, particularly if your preference is seafood. Judge for yourself if A1A Ale Works is deserving of its reputation as one of Florida's best microbreweries and dine on the balcony overlooking the Bridge of Lions. Or, for a romantic evening of fine dining, 95 Cordova Restaurant in the Casa Monica Hotel recreates the POSH atmosphere of Victorian-era Florida resorts.

This & That... While there are numerous antique and specialty shops to poke around in downtown, bargain hunters will find outlet mall nirvana just off the I-95 exits to St. Augustine. Those in the know reveal that the PGA Tour Shop in the Jacksonville International Airport has favorable prices, with World Golf Village a close second.

Links and Resources

St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & the Beaches, Florida

Casa Monica Hotel

Serenata Beach Club

Sawgrass Marriott

Cabana Beach Club

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

World Golf Village

Caddyshack Restaurant

95 Cordova Restaurant

Jesterville Grille 
(in the St. Augustine Toy Company)

Scarlett O'Hara's

A1A Ale Works

Carolina Cigar Company

St. Augustine Tourist Map

Florida Golf Central Magazine

Sightseeing Trains

Old Town Trolley Tours

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Alligator Farm

Colonial Spanish Quarter

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Nombre de Dios Mission & Memorials

Ghost Tours

Flagler College

World Golf Hall of Fame

Kayak Amelia

Fountain of Youth (email)

Schooner Freedom (email)

Jacksonville Intl Airport

JAXPORT Cruise Port

Photos © St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau


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