Last updated: 12:30 PM ET, Fri January 01 2016

Celebrating St. Augustine's 450th Birthday

The nation's oldest city is brimming with attractions to entice all types of visitors

Vacation Agent | Destination & Tourism

Celebrating St. Augustine's 450th Birthday

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

Located in Northeast Florida, just 30 minutes south of Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches — also called Florida’s Historic Coast — offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Old World charm of a city celebrating its 450th birthday.

At every turn, visitors will find historic sites, flavorful dining, art, culture and entertainment, along with 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches and world-class golf. We caught up with tourism officials to learn more about this destination.

St. Augustine is celebrating its 450th anniversary this year as the first settlement in the U.S. It’s also home to early African American and Hispanic American settlements. What sorts of historic places are there to explore?

The destination houses two national monuments — The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas, both representations of the earliest history of the destination. The Great Cross stands 280 feet tall and represents the early Catholic roots of St. Augustine. Other historic places of interest include the Old Jail, the National Cemetery, and several museums housing unique artifacts. And, of course, the city is home to the Fountain of Youth!

Wait, there’s really a Fountain of Youth?

Yes! Founded by Pedro Menendez on the actual site 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before Plymouth Rock, The Fountain of Youth is the first settlement area in the nation’s Oldest City. There is so much to do there: Drink from Ponce’s Spring of Eternal Hope, see stars in the planetarium, and visit the Timucua Indian Village of Seloy.

How should travel agents position Florida’s Historic Coast as a travel destination? How does it differ from other Florida resort areas?

In St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, we like to say that “Our History is Not the Same Old Story.” The city is brimming with history, culture, charm and attractions and is a truly unique Florida experience. With a coastline unobstructed by high-rises and dotted with world-class golf courses, there’s not much more a client could ask for in a destination. Whether a family is looking for a perfect beach getaway, a couple is searching for a romantic rendezvous, or a group of friends are looking for interesting nightlife and amazing attractions, Florida’s Historic Coast has it all.

What are the top three selling points to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches?

Authentic historical experiences, best beaches and bucket-list golf are three pillars that truly sell the destination.

What would adventurous travelers do there?

Nature is as much a part of our makeup as is history. With miles of water and currents flowing in every direction, the St. Augustine outdoors make for one of the most kayak-friendly places in the U.S. Vacationers can discover unique flora and fauna along our beaches and parks. And for fishing, the area can’t be beat. We’ve got saltwater and freshwater, inland and deep-sea.

Adventurers seeking more thrills can zip through the treetops and conquer aerial obstacles on the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park’s thrilling zipline attraction, Crocodile Crossing.

Tell us more about the opportunities to golf.

Known as the “Golf Capital of the World,” Florida is famous for the courses found in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra. It’s where golfing greats Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer built their legacies. Clients can discover dozens of top courses on Florida’s Historic Coast, including the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and the Palmer- and Nicklaus-designed King & Bear, a bucket-list experience for most golfers.

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the November 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.