St. Augustine and its surrounding area are one of the most historic destinations in the U.S.—Ponce de Leon laid claim to Florida for Spain there 500 years ago, in 1513, after all—and the next few years will see celebrations feting some big dates.
In concert with the commemoration of de Leon’s voyage of discovery, St. Augustine will add a new attraction in its historic district called the Colonial Quarter, scheduled to open this month and offer a re-creation of life in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The destination even hired Disney’s famed Imagineers to design the two-acre park.
The city of St. Augustine was officially founded in 1565, which provides the impetus for two years of celebrations ramping up to its 450-year anniversary in 2015.
“The celebration starts this year for us, but will be going on for three years, because of all these historic moments,” says Barbara Golden, communications manager for the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.
“From May through the summer there will be the St. Augustine Mosaic, which will feature 450 works of art by 450 different artists. And we also have a Picasso exhibit opening in February and going into May, which celebrates our Spanish heritage.”
Apart from all of the history, the destination also boasts some 42 miles of pristine beaches—St. Johns County put a moratorium on buildings taller than four stories, so high-rises don’t block the beach view—and some of the most desired golf courses in the nation are clustered around Ponte Vedra.
Golfing facilities that may be on the bucket list of any duffer include the TPC Sawgrass course and the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“Any group that’s into golf really takes a serious look at this area for that reason,” says Glenn Graham, director of conference sales for the VCB.