Along Florida's Historic Coast, history comes alive in red-brick lanes leading to centuries-old churches, in forts where soldiers still walk the grounds, and on horse-drawn carriage rides through time. Bring your clubs and hit the links -- numerous championship golf courses await. Or bring your sweetie and get caught up in the area's timeless romance.
But if it’s a beach you seek, head just out of town and back to nature along 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches.
White quartz sand beckons beachgoers at one of Florida’s most popular state parks. A protected bird sanctuary, the park consists of 1,700 acres and five miles of beaches, a gem of an area for wildlife enthusiasts. The northern three miles are for beach walkers only and most signs of civilization are hidden away well beyond the dunes. The area offers many services and activities including swimming, hiking, nature trails, a boat ramp, fishing, camping and kayak and paddle board rentals.
Named for Frank B. Butler, who hosted Martin Luther King, Jr. and associates in his motel in 1964 in a widely publicized civil rights visit to St. Augustine, Butler Beach was once one of the few designated African-American beaches in Florida. Today, the area is a mixture of private homes and condos, but many public-access points make it easily reachable. This environmentally sensitive dune system is home to the native Anastasia Island Beach Mice and gopher tortoises. Showers and restrooms are available.
Located on Anastasia Island, this beach is so named because the shoreline has a natural crescent moon shape. Miles of broad, white sand create an irresistible appeal among beach-goers. This particular stretch of beach is one of the most scenic and unspoiled in the area, perfect for ecotourists and beachcombers. This family- and pet-friendly beach offers boating and fishing as well as RV and camping facilities. South Beach Grill is a favorite beachfront restaurant serving up three meals a day along with a great ocean view. A little further south, Matanzas Inlet provides some of the best surf fishing spots in Florida.
Located between Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine this research reserve offers excellent educational opportunities, dune walkover, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Just across A1A is a beautiful stretch of coquina beaches where an occasional Right Whale sighting may take place. These protected areas provide habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife. CNN included the beach and dune walkover in its list of 22 Must See Beaches.