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A1A Scenic & Historical Coastal Byway Videos



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America's ByWays

A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway is more than a name-it’s a state of being. This 72-mile segment of historic State Road A1A abounds with white, sandy beaches, ample recreational adventures and history dating back before the birth of this country. One may want to enjoy the lush vistas or take advantage of the seemingly endless amount of recreational activities. The history enthusiast may witness historical reenactments and tour ancient forts, castles, lighthouses and various sites listed on the National Historic Registry including the legendary Fountain of Youth!

The A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway corridor is home to the Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, Faver Dykes State Park, Frank Butler County Park, Atlantic Ocean, Matanzas Inlet and Intracoastal Waterway. Travelers will want to experience all that this area has to offer including fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, bird watching, golfing, playing tennis and hiking. The Guana River State Park and Wildlife Management Area, an 11,500-acre park managed by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, is lined with oak and saw palmetto hammocks interspersed with vast expanses of saltwater marsh and rolling dunes of white, coquina beaches. The town of Ponte Vedra Beach is home to the PGA Tour National Headquarters and ATP International Tennis Headquarters. In Marineland, designated as the first Florida Coastal Management Program’s Remarkable Coastal Place, one may learn more about exotic sea life, interact with dolphins, or swim with giant turtles, 300-pound groupers and manna rays.

While Marineland is considered a major marine science research, education and nature center, the town boasts National Historic Register sites. The earliest documented period of occupation in this area dates from 2,000-1,000 B.C. As a destination point for European explorers, this area is rich in history and culture. Fort Matanzas National Monument, located on South Anastasia Island, is a favorite destination for those wishing to see history enfold itself through historical tours and reenactments. As the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States, the City of St. Augustine, founded in 1565, is home to numerous historical sites including the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the Lighthouse Museum and Park, Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, Mission Nombre de Dios and the Fountain of Youth. Visitors may choose to walk along the Bridge of Lions and through the City Gates once used to protect the city. They may meander through the country’s oldest central plaza, downtown St. Augustine, or explore Antique Row dotted with large, Victorian-style homes and shopping delights.

The A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway emphasizes the nature beauty of the route, the unique characteristics of its surrounding communities and the rich historic and archaeological resources. With these abundant resources, the quality of the journey along this scenic highway closely relates to the quality of life enjoyed by the residents and travelers alike.


America's ByWays

A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

This journey begins at the southern terminus of the Scenic & Historic A1A Scenic Highway. Here is the home of the first oceanarium in the U.S., Marineland of Florida, located in the appropriately-named town of Marineland. Marineland has been described by many as Florida’s first theme park. This oceanarium abounds with sea life-sea lions, penguins, stingrays, sea turtles and various tropical fish-for all to experience first-hand. Visitors can swim with dolphins or enjoy interactive presentations of sea lions and penguins.

Traveling further north, we experience the quaint, coastal communities located along Florida’s Atlantic coast-Summer Haven, Crescent Beach, Butler Beach and the City of St. Augustine Beach. Views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas Inlet are breathtaking backdrops to the “Old Florida” style beach homes we see along this scenic highway.

This area is not just for viewing the scenic vistas but for experiencing the natural and historical resources that are abundant. This area is home to several national monuments and many state parks-including Faver-Dykes, Frank Butler and Anastasia State Parks. These state parks are wonderful opportunities for the recreational enthusiast who enjoys surfing, fishing, swimming, sailboating as well as opportunities for the enthusiast who enjoys taking a leisurely stroll along the water or taking in a few rays of sunshine on the white, sandy beaches. For the historical enthusiast, a short drive from the scenic highway leads to the Fort Matanzas National Monument was a Spanish outpost built from 1740-1742 to guard the Matanzas Inlet and to warn St. Augustine of enemies approaching from the south.

Further north on the Scenic & Historic A1A Scenic Highway, is the home of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States-St. Augustine. As one might imagine, St. Augustine is rich with historical significance and opportunities. Its boasts include the Oldest Wooden School House, Old Jail, Oldest House and Oldest Store Museum.

One of the best ways to experience St. Augustine is on foot. Tour the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument which was built in the late 17th century used for guarding St. Augustine and protecting the sea route for treasure ships returning to the Old World. The St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum and Park offers the opportunity to learn through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities about the lives of the lighthouse keepers and their families. The 219 stairs to the top of the lighthouse gives visitors picturesque, panoramic views of the City of St. Augustine and its beaches. Today this lighthouse is completely automated and is an active aid to navigation under the U.S. Coast Guard.

Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon, was famous for his explorations throughout much of present-day Florida in search of the illusive and coveted Fountain of Youth. Today, the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park exhibits artifacts of the first mission and colony in St. Augustine. Enjoy the Landmark Spring, Explorers Globe and Navigators’ Planetarium where the star pointer reveals the ancient mysteries of celestial navigation as one tracks Ponce de Leon’s voyage to St. Augustine.

Visitors may choose to walk along the Bridge of Lions and through the City Gates once used to protect the city. They may meander through the country’s oldest central plaza, downtown St. Augustine, or explore Antique Row dotted with large, Victorian-style homes and shopping delights.

Coming to the end of this journey on the Scenic & Historic A1A Scenic Highway, we reach the towns of Vilano Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach. The Guana River State Park and the Guana River Wildlife Management Area encompasses approximately 14,000 acres. Beach oak and saw palmetto hammocks separate expanses of saltwater marsh to the west and rolling dunes and soft coquina beach sand to the east. Along the highway, old drawbridges have been replaced and converted into fishing piers. Fishing, boating, swimming and beach going are not the only recreational opportunities along the Scenic & Historic A1A Scenic Highway. Only this scenic highway can boast as being the home to the headquarters of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Here, everyone from the amateur to the budding professional can enjoy the same facilities as the top ranked professional in the world do. May you enjoy all that Florida’s Atlantic coast has to offer by experiencing the Scenic & Historic A1A Scenic Highway.

America's ByWays

A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

St. Johns County
http://www.stjohnscountychamber.com

Visit Old City
http://www.floridashistoriccoast.com

Ponte Vedra Beach Chamber of Commerce
http://www.pontevedrachamber.org

Visit Flagler
http://www.visitflagler.org/

America's ByWays

A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

Marineland – Interact with dolphins, scuba dive or snorkel in the country’s first oceanarium containing sea turtles, stingrays and a multitude of fish. View shows highlighting sea lions, penguins and dolphins. (904) 460-1275

Faver-Dykes State Park – The 1,450-acre park, along Pellicer Creek, has an aquatic preserve and state canoe trail. Travel down the unpaved park drives under a canopy of live oak trees, covered resurrection fern and green-fly orchid. Camping, fishing, boating and beach activities are available. (904) 794-0997

Fort Matanzas National Monument – This Spanish outpost fort was built from 1740-1742 to guard the Matanzas Inlet and to warn St. Augustine of enemies approaching from the south. Fort Matanzas now serves as a reminder of the early Spanish empire in the New World.

Frank Butler State Park – Coastal camping, fishing, sun bathing, surfing, sail boarding, swimming, nature trails and picnicking provide endless hours of enjoyment. (904) 471-6616

Anastasia State Park – Coastal camping, fishing, sun bathing, surfing, sail boarding, swimming, nature trails and picnicking provide endless hours of enjoyment. (904) 461-2033

St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum and Park – Visitors can climb 219 stairs to the top of the tower for a breathtaking and panoramic view of St. Augustine and the beaches and learn about the lives of the keepers and their families through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Completely automated, the lighthouse remains an active aid to navigation under the U.S. Coast Guard. (904) 829-0745

Bridge of Lions – First built in 1895, it links Anastasia Island and downtown St. Augustine.

City Gate – From the Bridge of Lions and on the way to Antique Row, walk through the City Gate that once used to protect the city.

Antique Row – Located in the heart of the city, Antique Row is dotted with large, Victorian-style homes and shopping delights.

Plaza de la Constitution – A huge stone plaza which was once the business center of the old city, it overlooks the Mantanzas Bay and the Bridge of Lions at one end and a reconstruction of a 1800′s public marketplace at the other.

Mission Nombre de Dios – On this site in 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was here that Menendez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was on these grounds that Fr. Lopez would celebrate the first parish Mass.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument – Built from 1672 to 1695, it served primarily as an outpost of the Spanish Empire, guarding St. Augustine and also protecting the sea route for treasure ships returning to Spain.

Fountain of Youth – Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park exhibits foundations and artifacts of the first St. Augustine mission and colony. Enjoy the Landmark Spring, Explorers Globe and Navigators’ Planetarium where the star pointer reveals the ancient mysteries of celestial navigation as you track Ponce de Leon’s voyage to St. Augustine. (800) 356-8222

Oldest Wooden School House – Built over 200 years ago, it’s located near the City Gates artifacts and interpretive information available, School House is a surviving expression of another time. Built over 200 years ago, (888) 653-7245

Old Jail – Completed in 1891, it housed prisoners during the 19th and 20th centuries. Hear actual crimes and punishments that were a part of life for prisoners. Tours highlight security measures, prisoners’ daily schedule and required behavior. (904) 829-3800

Oldest House – Despite repeated raids and burnings by the English and by pirates, the site of the Oldest House has been continuously occupied by Europeans and Americans since the early 1600s (904) 824-2872

Oldest Store Museum – Once an operating general store, contains over 100,000 items from the turn-of-the-century. This wide variety of goods came from the stock of the original store. (904) 829-9729

Guana River Wildlife Management Area – A 2,400 acre coastal park located on a barrier island midway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. (904) 825-5071

ATP International Tour Headquarters – This facility offers guests year-round tennis packages, junior and adult tennis camps, private lessons and clinics. (904) 285-6400

PGA Tour National Headquarters – Play golf on one of the world’s most famous courses. (904) 280-4828