For Central Florida residents and visitors, St. Augustine offers a great blend of getting away, relaxing and touring. Here are our top 5 reasons to put it in your travel plans this year.
1. Location, location, location:
A short drive from Central Florida, St. Augustine is a quick trip that allows you to get away from it all without dedicating a full day to driving to a new location. Leave mid-morning, grab lunch on the way and get there in plenty of time to see and explore.
2. The Beach:
St. Augustine beach is beautiful. With powdery white sand and gorgeous views, the beach locations are convenient to area hotels and parking. Anastasia Island State Park, further up 312 and A1A, offers guests the option to camp or spend the day. Complete with grill area and gift shop, the location also offers bicycles, paddle boards, kayaks, sails boats and canoes for rental. Fees vary for entrance to the state park and for rental of items.
3. The Historic District:
One of the best things about St. Augustine is the ability to spend time on the beach and in the town. In historic St Augustine, guests can explore area attractions. Potter’s Wax Museum, Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, the Lightner Museum and a host of other locations to see and explore. Tours of the St. Augustine Distillery and Winery offer free samples for guests 21 and over and everyone can enjoy free samples at the Whetstone Chocolate tour.
In the evening, ghost tours steal the show with the many tours showcasing the haunts of the oldest city.
4. Dining options:
Whether staying downtown or on the beach, St. Augustine offers some great dining options. The Columbia Restaurant and Pizzalley are a few of the fun locations in town with Sunset Grille, Ubi’s Fillin’ Station and Mango Mango’s being a few of the great locations on the beach.
5. And so much more…
Events and activities fill the calendar in St. Augustine. From farmer’s markets to concerts to art shows, there is always something new to see in St. Augustine.
Just a short drive down A1A, beyond historic St. Augustine is a fantastic beachside community of St. Augustine beach. A variety of lodging options from local bed and breakfast locations to hotel chains and private homes allow visitors to stay right near the beach.
We opted to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott at St. Augustine Beach. A new addition to the community, this contemporary resort offered the comforts we have grown used to when staying at a Marriott, but also allowed us to experience the local surroundings as well. Within walking distance to the beach, we were wading in ocean waters within minutes of checking in and enjoying the Florida sunshine. Not overly crowded, the powder sand beach offered plenty of opportunity for collecting shells, walking on the shoreline and taking an afternoon swim.
Best of all was the close-proximity to downtown historic St. Augustine. Whether driving a car or taking shuttle transportation, the downtown area was no more than 20 minutes away. Traffic however can be an issue and for that we were very happy to find that there was plenty of dining options within walking distance to our hotel that did not involve us driving to the downtown area.
Let's go to the beach!!
The great thing about living in the Central Florida community is that you can wake up one morning and just decide to go to the beach. Even when visiting the area, if you grow tired of the theme park fun and just need to chill to the sounds of the ocean waves, there are options a short drive away.
One of our favorites is Cocoa Beach. Approximately 40 minutes away, it is a quick drive up the bee line and parking is available at the oceanfront parks as well as street parking.
A quick rundown of the parks…
Alan Shepard Park – at the end of State Road 520
2 acre oceanfront park with picnic areas, shower and restroom facilities. The park named after astronaut Alen Shepard is a great viewing area for space launches. Parking is $10.
Sidney Fischer Park - 2100 block of State Road A1A
10 acre oceanfront park with picnic areas and pavilions and shower and restroom facilities. Parking is $5.
Lori Wilson Park – located at 1500 N. Atlantic Ave
32.5 acre oceanfront park with restrooms and pavilions along a 1k foot boardwalk, volleyball court, playground and barbeque grills.
Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park – State Road A1A and 16th St. South
2 acre oceanfront park offers a boardwalk, restrooms, picnic and shower facilities.
Cape Canaveral Oceanfront Parks
Jetty Park – located at 400 E Jetty Rd Cape Canaveral
Campsites, store, concession stand, soda machine, restrooms, picnic area, barbeque grills, playground and bike path. Newly renovated boardwalk allows for great fishing and views of the cruise ships and shuttle launches. Parking $5
Cherie Down Park - 8492 Ridgewood Ave Cape Canaveral
6.99 acre beach park with restrooms, showers and sheltered picnic area.
**Don’t forget the sunscreen!**
On a recent trip to the Bonita Springs area, we had the opportunity to visit Big Hickory Island Beach, a private beach accessible via boat shuttle transportation available for guest of the Hyatt Coconut Plantation. The gulf shore beach is beautiful with chairs and umbrellas and restroom facilities available. It is a protected conservation area for shore birds, loggerhead sea turtles and other indigenous vegetation.
To get to the island, guests of the resort can take a shuttle to the marina. Once at the marina be sure to sign in on the log to lock in your space on the wait list. Guests are taken over in order of arrival by boat shuttle – a short 15 minute ride to the island. Make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen, food and drink as items are not available for purchase at the beach.
The white sandy beaches and calm waters create a relaxing environment to enjoy the sun, have fun in the water or look for sea shells, which are abundant in this protected area.
Check the Hyatt Regency Coconut Plantation web site for more information about boat shuttle departure times.