St. Augustine was discovered by Ponce de Leon in1513 and claimed for Spain. He named it La Florida. Over the next 150 years the area was first occupied by the French, then the Spanish. It was plundered by pirates, and clashes between the Spanish and British became more frequent after the English had colonized Georgia and the Carolinas. Hostilities ended in 1763 when Spain gave Florida to Great Britain in exchange for newly discovered Havana. But only 20 years later a second treaty returned it to the Spanish. Then, in 1821, Spain sold Florida to the United States.The state was occupied by the Seminole Indians at that time, and as settlers began to encroach onto the land, Indian wars ensued. By 1845 the area was finally safe for visitors, and Florida became the 27th state.
During the Civil War, St. Augustine was occupied by the Union Navy as part of its blockade of southern ports. In the late 1800s oil and railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler bought and made large investments in three of its grand hotels. Soon St. Augustine attracted the wealthy and became known as “Southern Newport.”
St. Augustine today is an historic city of 12,000 residents, with tourism as the mainstay of it’s economy. Its many historical sites, miles of Atlantic coast beaches, amenities, excellent fishing, and location along the Intracoastal Waterway all contribute to bringing nearly 2 million visitors each year. Much of its rich history has been preserved and is the foundation for tours, boat cruises, and museums. There are more than 50 attractions and historic sites.
St. Augustine offers eateries from cafes and pubs to four-star dining, and many boutiques and gift shops. There are established neighborhoods in the downtown area, with a number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. On the edge of town there are malls, retail centers and a mile-long St. Augustine Outlet Center.
St. Johns County, of which St. Augustine is a part, is as varied as it is beautiful. It is comprised of Historic St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Hastings, and Northwest. St. Augustine Beach is just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Old St. Augustine, on Anastasia Island. It is a beach resort community with camping accommodations, natural dunes, sandy beaches, and the St. Johns County Fishing Pier.
Ponte Vedra Beach is 20 miles north of St. Augustine, not far from Jacksonville. It is a beautiful golf and tennis resort area stretching five miles along the oceanfront and lagoons. It is known for the Tournament Players Club, Sawgrass County Club, Marsh Landing, The Ponte Vedra Club, and as headquarters of both the PGA Tour, and the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). It features top-rated visitor accommodations and upscale residential neighborhoods.
The community of Hastings, 18 miles southwest of St. Augustine, is an agricultural center with 21,000 acres under cultivation. Northwest is a 30-minute drive from St. Augustine, and an equal distance from the city of Jacksonville. It is located along the St. Johns River and its tributaries, Julington Creek and Durbin Creek. It offers excellent schools, and many outdoor recreation opportunities, including boating, sailing, canoeing, bass fishing, golf, tennis and other sports. http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/
Arts & Culture
St Augustine is a great center for the arts. It hosts many live music events and is home to theater and film organizations. The area has a very wide and varied music scene. http://www.oldcity.com/music-and-media-information.cfm
The EMMA Concert Association offers a rich variety of performances at Flagler Auditorium. It features talents such as Charleston Ballet Theater, Budapest Strings, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, pianist Oleg Marshev, and violinist Corey Cerovesk. http://www.emmaconcerts.com/
The Limelight Theatre offers year-round professional quality live stage productions in an intimate setting of just 110 seats. http://limelight-theatre.org/
There are a great many historic sites and museums in the area. Among them are Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a stately old stone fort, the Spanish Quarter Village, which is a living history museum, Fountain of Youth Discovery Park, and Lightner Museum — a Victorian collectibles museum.
St. Johns County Recreation & Parks Department offers an abundance of choices for outdoor activities). There are 30 parks that offer, swimming and aquatics, picnic grounds, canoeing, hiking and biking trails, boat ramps, lighted tennis and paddle tennis courts, community centers, municipal golf course, and more. There are also adult athletic programs, including softball, volleyball, and basketball. Other senior programs are planned.
Golfers will find this area of northeast Florida to be ideal. It is the home of the PGA Tour and more than 50 courses. Among them are layouts designed by Donald Ross, Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Jerry Pate, and Robert Trent Jones and other outstanding architects. There are famous courses like the TPC at Sawgrass, The King and The Bear, and numerous other championship layouts. There are exquisite clubs, resort courses, and numerous semi-private and public courses. Ponte Vedra Beach’s tennis facilities for both players and fans rank among the finest found anywhere in the world! The best players in the world come to the ATP Tour International Headquarters to sharpen their games, and the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club has been named as the third best tennis resort in America. The St. Augustine area is geared for more casual players and offers 24 lighted courts in various area.
There is an abundance of water sports with a 42-mile stretch of sand beach shoreline, with state parks and public recreation areas. There is also a wide variety of both inland and offshore fishing.
For sports fans, there is The Tournament Players Championship of golf at Sawgrass in March (http://www.golfflorida.com/departments/
coursereviews/sawgrass-stadium-course.htm) big-time college football at the Gator Bowl or The Jacksonville Jaguars professional football team at Jaguar Stadium in Jacksonville (http://www.jaguars.com/). And famous Daytona International Speedway is just an hour and 15 minutes from St. Augustine. (http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/).
Flagler College, founded in 1968 and named for one of St. Augustine’s best known citizens, is a liberal arts college located in the historic district of the city. It has an enrollment of about 2,000 students and offers degree in 20 majors. http://www.flagler.edu/ .
St. Johns Recreation & Parks Department offers a number of adult athletic programs and plan to announce others. It also offer free tennis lessons for seniors. http://www.co.st-johns.fl.us/bcc/Parks_1_Recreation/index.aspx
Flagler Hospital is a 230-bed community hospital offering full patient services. http://www.flaglerhospital.com/
Mayo Clinic Primary Care Center provides onsite laboratory and X-ray services, as well as a range of diagnostic and surgical procedures. http://www.mayoclinic.org/cim-jax/index.html
St. Augustine/St. Johns County Airport – http://www.staugustineairport.com
Jacksonville International Airport is about 18 miles north of downtown Jacksonville. http://www.jia.aero/
Temperatures in January average a high of 70 and a low of 47 degrees. July averages a high of 89 and a low of 71 degrees. http://www.wunderground.com/US/FL/Saint_Augustine.html
Chamber of Commerce
St. Augustine Record – http://staugustine.com/
State Aging Agency
Jacksonville – 41 miles
Ponte Vedra – 26 miles
Daytona Beach – 55 miles
Gainesville – 80 miles
Orlando – 106 miles