February is Perfect for Lovers!
ROMANCE BLOOMS ON FLORIDA’S HISTORIC COAST
The first recorded wedding in St. Augustine is dated January 24, 1594 – 29 years after the city’s founding and 13 years before the English arrived at Jamestown, Virginia. The groom was Gabriel Hernandez and the bride’s name was Catalina de Valdes. Although their happiness on that day was undoubtedly remembered for the rest of their lives, it would have been even more special if they had known they were the first of thousands of couples who could not resist the romance of the nation’s oldest city. For centuries, it has beguiled romantics. The shining sea, fresh breezes, horse-drawn carriages bedecked in colorful flowers, romantic strolls beside a star-spangled bay, the moonlit ramparts of a 17th century Spanish fortress…and so much more to be discovered. This is a city with nearly 450 years of history and authentic European architecture bathed in the Florida sun. It’s no wonder that Travel + Leisure magazine made St. Augustine it’s number one pick for an American destination where visitors could feel as though they are in Europe.
Plus, just up the coast in beautiful Ponte Vedra Beach, world renowned resorts like the AAA.
5-Diamond Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, the Lodge and Club and the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa offer unmatched pampering-and great tennis and golf on some of the world’s most famous courses including the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass, home of the THE PLAYERS Championship each May. Also, the Renaissance World Golf Resort is not only AAA 4-Diamond-rated, it is next door to the World Golf Hall of Fame and features two championship courses.
Despite the year-round appeal to lovers, February’s arrival on Florida’s Historic Coast gives even the most reluctant romantic a valid reason to utter sweet-nothings while experiencing the blushes brought forth by a direct hit from one of Cupid’s arrows. Here, all of the elements needed to transform a mild infatuation into a full-blown, four-alarm romance are readily found.
Start with one of the basics – chocolate. Begin with a tour of the Whetstone Chocolate Factory Whetstone Chocolates where master confectioners explain how its done and offer samples of their delectable product – plus, they explain why chocolate is really good for you – no need to feel guilty, indulge yourself. Plus, the have chocolate and wine pairing at their Anastasia Island location Next, head to Claude’s Claude’s Chocolates and sample hand-crafted Belgian chocolates that offer the best in Old World richness or stop at Peterbrooke’s Peterbrooke Chocolates and experience imaginative concoctions including their famous chocolate-covered popcorn. Or get totally immersed in the flavor and lore of chocolate on the Tour de Chocolate presented by St. Augustine City Walks or take a ride through the world of chocolate on the original chocolate tour offered by Old Town Trolleys.
Euripides once wrote “where there is no wine, there is no love.” So make sure to experience the wine pairings with chocolate presented at Whetstone’s shop on Anastasia Island or take part in the daily wine tastings at San Sebastian Winery and discover the tastes the have received more than 400 awards in domestic and international competition.
Romantic music? It’s performed each evening, most frequently outdoors, at numerous restaurants and watering holes around the city. Plus, the February lineup at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Flagler Auditorium, and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall offers something for every musical taste -They Might Be Giants (2/7); Russia’s Kremlin Chamber Orchestra (2/11); Robert Cray (2/14); Patrizio Buanne (2/17); Brandi Carlile (2/18); Saw Doctors (2/22); Pablo Cruise (2/25); and Dark Star (2/29)/
St. Augustine features dining that incorporates everything needed for romance – exquisite food and impeccable service in settings that create a lasting memory — the sea at sunset, the famous Bridge of Lions opening at twilight for the passage of white-hulled shrimp boats, the clip-clop of passing horse-drawn carriages in the glow of 19th century street lamps, happy couples strolling through the Plaza de la Constitucion.
The perfect ending for a day of romance can be found at any of dozens of accommodations on Florida’s Historic Coast. The charm of an award-wining bed and breakfast inn is readily available, as is the romantic allure of historic hotels, elegant beachfront resorts and the very best of contemporary lodging provided by the most distinguished names in the industry. In fact, planning a romantic getaway to St. Augustine is easy. Simply go to: FloridasHistoricCoast.com/ROMANCE
Romantic February Events on Florida’s Historic Coast:
Sunset-Moonrise at the St. Augustine Lighthouse
See the sun set behind the skyline of the nation’s oldest city and then watch the full moon rise from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean – all from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Repeatedly selected in polls as the most romantic place to propose marriage in all of Northeast Florida, the lighthouse offers a magnificent view of the change from day to night in an unforgettable coastal setting. Plus, the event includes a champagne toast and hors d’oeuvres. For reservations, call 904.829.0745.
February 11 – 14
Couples’ Valentine Eco Adventure
Join the professional Guides and Naturalists of St. Augustine Eco Tours for a one of a kind Valentine’s experience! Choose the excursion that’s perfect for you and your sweetie! Paddle in a tandem kayak into the beautiful and tranquil salt marshes, look for wildlife as you explore the rivers and creeks on the Dolphin & Nature boat tour or kick back and relax on a peaceful 2 hour sail aboard our stable 27′ catamaran —the choice is yours! St. Augustine Eco Tours specializes in small tours, taking groups no larger than six on most excursions so you’ll never be lost in the crowd. St. Augustine Eco Tours is located at St. Augustine Marina, 111 Avenida Menendez. Kayak tours are 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. All other tours are by appointment. For rates and more information, visit staugustineecotours.com, or call (904) 377-7245.
February 11 – 19
St. Augustine Air Tours Special Valentine Tours
Fly high with your sweetie pie. St. Augustine Air Torus is offering special discounted airplane sightseeing tours, sunset and aerobatic flights over St. Augustine. Take your sweetie up and save 10% through Valentine’s week. Each of St. Augustine Air Tours vintage aircraft are fully restored and among the finest examples of their kind in the country. St. Augustine Air Tours is located at St. Augustine Regional Airport, 4900 US 1 North in St. Augustine. For more information, call 904-819-0002 or visit StAugustineAirTours.com.
Ripley’s World Record Wedding Vow Renewal Event
Renew your wedding vows and be a part of a world record setting event! Ripley’s Original Believe It or Not Museum will host this attempt to set a new Guinness record for the largest wedding vow renewal in history! Help shatter the current record of 1,087 couples, receive flowers and a fun tour of St. Augustine — the nation’s oldest city aboard a red train. It’s all free! Advance registration required for this noon to 2 p.m. event. Email the name of the bride and groom and the state and date of their original wedding to email@example.com.
Valentine’s Day Sunset Sail
Savor the most romantic day of the year on a two-hour sunset sail aboard the schooner Freedom. This sail into the sunset will be truly special with complimentary drinks, chocolates, live music and a warm blanket to cuddle under. The schooner sets sail at 4:15 p.m. and reservations are required. Tickets are $45 per person. Phone: 904.810.1010
Uncorked Wine Judging
Come join in a wine judging event at Ponte Vedra Beach. This judging event will provide a sampling of what is to come at the April 2012 Sawgrass Wine Festival. Uncorked takes place at Sawgrass Marriott, located at 1000 PGA Tour Blvd. in Ponte Vedra Beach.
For more information, visit www.pontevedrachamber.org.
Casa Monica Nocha de Gala (Night of the Ball)
Be a part of this 16th century masked ball celebrating the 493rd birthday of St. Augustine’s founder, Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. The celebration begins at 5 p.m. with a grand and exciting procession through downtown St. Augustine to announce the arrival of Menéndez, who will be accompanied by his colorful entourage. Starting at the City Gates at St. George and Orange Street, Menéndez will lead the procession down St. George Street to the front of the Lightner Museum, 75 King Street, engaging the town folks as he inspects his colony and prepares to enjoy his birthday celebration, Noche de Gala. The cocktail reception and dinner will be followed by dancing to contemporary tunes. Gala attire is black tie or 16th century costume. The Noche de Gala takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Lightner Museum Ballroom, 75 King Street in St. Augustine. Sponsored by the Casa Monica Hotel, this is St. Augustine’s most exciting social event of the year. Tickets are $195 per person, or $75 per person for just the cocktail reception. All proceeds go toward the restoration of Lightner Museum. Reservations are required. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, 42 miles of pristine, Atlantic beaches – the same beaches that greeted Ponce de Leon in 1513 when he discovered and named La Florida, an area whose boundaries encompassed what would later become the eastern United States. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaway and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at FloridasHistoricCoast.com, become a fan on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489.