Fall is a special time in this part of Florida – the sky takes on a deeper shade of blue, the sea breeze seems even fresher, and the beach sand sparkles in the warm autumn sun. For visitors, fall is a time of new discoveries in the oldest city, new challenges on some of the world’s greatest golf courses, and a chance to create new cherished memories in a setting that provides the perfect backdrop for romance, adventure and fun. Here are some highlights of the many new discoveries awaiting this fall for visitors to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches.
All this and a discount too?
This fall, visitors will have a new reason to get excited about their trip to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches – an easy-to-obtain discount card that can help them save hundreds of dollars during their visit! The GetawayCard serves as a passport for getting the very best deals on everything from accommodations and attractions to dining and shopping. Plus, visitors will find dozens of shops, hotels and attractions displaying a sticker that shows they welcome Getaway Card holders. For details on great discounts and to easily download a Getaway Card, simply click Getaway Card.
Fall events add excitement
Autumn visitors can be part of the excitement on the night of November 2 when the Class of 2009 is inducted into St. Augustine’s World Golf Hall of Fame. Broadcast on The Golf Channel, this free event provides a chance to see some of the game’s greatest players, hear inspiring stories from their lives and simply be a part of golfing history. Plus, it’s outdoors under the glittering stars.
Of course, the stars won’t be the only thing glittering above St. Augustine. On November 22, more than two million tiny white lights will come alive when the switch is thrown to begin the 16th Annual Nights of Lights. Based on the old Spanish custom of displaying a single white candle during the holiday season, the Nights of Lights has become one the largest and grandest holiday lighting spectacles in the Southeast. In addition to the magical atmosphere created by the lights in the Oldest City, the City of St. Augustine Beach and on the grounds of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, the Nights of Lights are filled with holiday tours, exciting events, and memorable adventures. For example, how about outdoor ice skating,in Florida? You can do just that and much more at the annual Winter Wonderland that takes place at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre during the Nights of Lights.
New attractions, dining experiences, shopping opportunities and accommodation packages add to the excitement of a visit to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches. Here are some of the exciting new experiences that will be enjoyed by visitors arriving here this fall.
Beginning with the stirring induction ceremony on November 2, new exhibits honoring the 2009 Class of Inductees will open at the World Golf Hall of Fame. The new inductees will have individual lockers displaying personal items from their golfing careers in the Hall’s Member Locker Room and bronze relief plaques of each new member will be added to the Wall of Fame. This year’s inductees are Lanny Wadkins, Jose Marie Olazabal, Christy O’Connor and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In addition, the special exhibition, “Bob Hope: Shanks for the Memories,” will be open throughout the fall. Hope’s love for the game of golf is immortalized in this exhibit – the largest collection of Hope memorabilia ever on public display. The World Golf Hall of Fame is located in St. Augustine at I-95 exit 323.
St. Augustine’s only hands-on, interactive museum has moved to a new and spacious location. The Old Florida Museum allows visitors to experience the origins of the city from a native perspective. See arrowheads fashioned, help shape a hand-hewn dugout canoe, learn how to bait and trap an alligator for the family meal, use an old club and stump to make corn meal, start a fire “Indian style” – this is memorable “edu-tainment” for the entire family. The Old Florida Museum in now located at 259 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine.
Leave the kids at home while you enjoy a fun, evening sail under the moon and stars with the Black Raven pirates. Indulge in a Black Raven grog in the bar, watch as the Pirate Magician takes over the quarterdeck and sing along with the Shantymen on the main deck. This adults only, two-hour voyage includes a free welcome drink. Tickets are $28.50 per person, $27 for seniors.
If you love art, or if you simply wish to peer behind the veil of creativity, straight into the artist’s world in the Nation’s Oldest City, then you have to go on one of these fascinating new tours presented by the Holborn Gallery. The past decade has witnessed an art renaissance in St. Augustine and these tours offer an ideal way to experience art and meet the artists in this beautiful part of Florida. Tours begin at only $25 per person. For more information, call 904.827.9355.
Do you have what it takes t be a Florida crabber? Find out in this adventurous, hands-on tour that gives you hours of work and fun aboard a crab boat on the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, down the broad St. Johns River or even in the deep blue Atlantic. The Alaska/Florida Seafood boat casts off at 7:30 a.m., but the chance to interact with crabbers and to learn about this centuries-old industry is well worth the early morning departure. Put your arms and back into pulling up crab traps and sorting the catch. Learn the salty terminology, gain an understanding of the lifecycle of these delectable delicacies, use GPS to track your traps, and check for poachers. It’s an unforgettable outing on the warm Florida waters. These interactive tours take place every Sunday, Tuesday and Friday morning – but more frequent tours may be available based on the season and tides. Late afternoon tours are also sometimes available on request. The cost is $50 per person and includes a dozen crabs for each participant to take home. For more details, including the next tour’s destination and departure time, call 904.794.4476..
See Henry Flagler, the Father of Florida Tourism, brought to life in this critically-acclaimed performance by Paul Jellinek. In Wild Dreams, Henry Flagler tells the story of his development of St. Augustine as a world class resort destination, his work with John D. Rockefeller, the expansion of his empire to the Keys – even the story of his three marriages. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. at the San Marco Theater in St. Augustine. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 children -for more information, call 904.429.0280.
Do you feel the need for speed? The St. Augustine Adventure Landing can satisfy it with an “all you can ride” go-kart experience on Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. for only $19.99 per person. And if you have a group or family of 10 or more, you can choose any three attractions, including a go-kart ride or miniature golf, for only $9.99 per person. Located just off I-95 exit 318 and adjacent to the Premium and Prime Outlets, Adventure Landing’s go-karts, batting cages, miniature golf, and arcade featuring more than 80 video games provide the perfect getaway for dad and the kids while mom does the holiday shopping.
Just opened in St. Augustine, the Cyprian Center for Expressive Arts is a new multi-cultural, multi-ethnic center where children and adults can come together to enjoy and gain instruction in varied arts including music, painting, photography, dance, quilting, mosaics, film production and many others. The Center is located at 130 Martin Luther King Avenue in the heart of the historic Lincolnville District.
There’s no better way to get a new and exciting perspective on the area’s magnificent beaches than by seeing them from horseback. Country Carriages now offers one-hour horseback rides at the very edge of the sea – great for a little romance or as a memorable family outing.
Step back to a special place in time with a stay at one of St. Augustine’s outstanding Inns of Elegance while enjoying the holiday magic of the Nights of Lights. In addition to outstanding hospitality and sumptuous homemade breakfasts, guests will enjoy an exclusive, private ride aboard the St. Augustine Sightseeing Train and a complimentary beverage at the popular Tini Martini Bar. This special offer is available with any two-night stay Sunday thru Thursday (November 22, 2009 – January 28, 2010). The Inns of Elegance is a celebrated collection of romantic and historic bed & breakfast inns – members include the Casablanca Inn, Inn on Charlotte, Bayfront Westcott House, Bayfront Marin House and St. Francis Inn.
Opened in 1888 and beautifully restored in 1999, St. Augustine’s classic Casa Monica Hotel has won numerous accolades including a recent selection as one of the Nation’s top hotels by Travel and Leisure magazine. This fall, guests will find that the hotel’s long heritage of hospitality has not excluded it from being among the state’s most environmentally-conscious properties. The management’s commitment to the environment has just secured Two-Palm status for the hotel from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging Program. Plus, the Casa Monica has great fall specials lined up for Florida and Georgia residents.
Guests at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites will find a number of upgrades at this property located adjacent to St. Augustine’s historic district. New carpet throughout the guestrooms, new pillow-top mattresses and upgraded linens and bedding are just a few of the items that are new for fall. Plus, the hotel has just become a Certified Green Lodging Property – a designation from the State of Florida that recognizes such innovations as motion-controlled thermostats in guestrooms, an extensive re-cycling program and the use of approved “green” cleaning products.
From October thru mid-December, Devil’s Elbow Fishing Resort guests who stay three nights in any of the property’s classic Florida waterfront and water view cottages will get a fourth night’s stay at no cost. Devil’s Elbow, located just south of St. Augustine, offers ideal accommodations on the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway for anglers or those who just want to get the most from a rocking chair while watching a gorgeous sunset from their private front porch. This offer is available Sunday thru Thursday (holidays excluded).
Built in 1791, the St. Francis Inn offers history and relaxation in a place where guests can find the very best of “another place and time” while enjoying amenities like whirlpool baths. Just around the corner from St. Augustine’s Oldest House, the inn has several fall specials that make the historic setting irresistible to guests. Through December, the Inn is offering a “Recession Rescue” special – stay two week nights and receive 25% off the second night or stay three week nights and receive 50% off the third nights. Plus, guests who stay any two week nights in December receive an attractively-package one-pound container of the inn’s signature 1791 granola – an item that’s a perfect reminder of the sumptuous gourmet breakfasts served at the St. Francis Inn.
Fans of the game of golf can spend an evening with the stars of the game thanks to a special Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village package available Oct. 31 through Nov. 5 – ideal for those attending the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremonies to be held next door on Nov. 2. The Induction Ceremony Plus Gala package includes two nights accommodation at the Renaissance, reserved VIP seating at the induction ceremony, and access to the private, post-Induction Ceremony Gala in the Hall of Fame which will also be attended by the new inductees and their families along with other golf celebrities and industry representatives. Rates for this package begin at $359. The Golf and Gala package features three nights of accommodations, reserved VIP seating at the induction ceremonies, access to the private, post-Induction Ceremony Gala and two rounds of golf on the official golf courses of the World Golf Hall of Fame – one on the Palmer/Nicklaus-designed King & Bear and one on the Snead/Sarazen-inspired and Bobby Weed-designed Slammer & Squire. This package begins at $753. Both packages also include opportunities to be a part of the live audience for the Golf Channel’s broadcast of the proceedings and unlimited access to the Hall of Fame during operating hours. Also, from Oct. 1 through Dec. 30, guests at the Renaissance will receive a third night free when they book their accommodations and can also take advantage of a free arrival round at one the courses, plus a one-hour lesson for two at the PGA Tour Academy at World Golf Village. Admission to the Hall of Fame is included.
This fall, guests arriving at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village will notice that this prestigious resort has a new array of impressive and well-deserved awards on display. The resort, which completed a comprehensive $10 million property-wide renovation in July of 2008, is the winner of Meetings & Conventions magazine’s 2009 Gold Key Award – an award that recognizes the finest meeting facilities in the world. In addition, The property also received Association Meetings magazine’s prestigious Inner Circle Award for 2008 – one of only 40 resorts to be so honored; a 2009 Gold Tee Award from Meetings and Conventions magazine recognizing it as one of the top golf and meeting hotels in the world; Marriott International’s Best Renovation of the Year Award; and the sales staff was recognized by Marriott for having the best sales leader and best sales team in the Central Region. World Golf Village, the home of the Renaissance, was selected number 15 out of the top 50 golf resorts in the country by the readers of Golf World magazine.
This fall, visitors stopping by St. Augustine’s exclusive outlet malls at I-95’s exit 318 or heading on down SR 16 to the oldest city will encounter two brand new hotels! The Fairfield Inn & Suites, located on Prime Outlet Boulevard, offers a wide range of amenities for both the leisure and business traveler, plus it is within walking distance of great shopping. Just a short distance down SR 16, the new Courtyard by Marriott has blended rich textures and an innovative design to create a relaxing full-service hotel that is less than 10 minutes from the historic attractions of St. Augustine and also offers a Stop, Shop and Getaway package designed exclusively for outlet mall shoppers.
And now for something completely different – dining in the dark! This isn’t a dinner served by candlelight at the award-winning The Tasting Room and Opus 39. Instead, this is a dining experience in total darkness with diners blindfolded during the meal. Paired with specially-selected fine wines, the loss of vision heightens the sense of taste and Chef Michael McMillan’s contemporary Spanish creations are elevated to a new level of exquisite taste. The Tasting Room and the McMillan’s companion restaurant, Opus 39, both received 2009 Golden Spoon Awards from Florida Trend Magazine – an extraordinary achievement considering that less than 40 restaurants receive this prestigious award annually. In the interest of sharing the recipes that have made these upscale eateries famous, Chef McMillan has just published a cookbook that’s available at Opus 39, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Plus, salsa lessons are now offered on Thursday nights at The Tasting Room. Both restaurants are located in the historic district of St. Augustine.
This fall, Sundays are special at Amici. In addition to their savory regular menu, each Sunday will feature a four-course, full Italian dinner just like Grandmother used to prepare. The home-style dinner will include pasta, but there will be a different entrée each week. And just to get the weekend off to a great start, Amici has a new piano bar featuring Kenyon and Friends beginning each Friday at 5 p.m. Amci is located near the beaches at 1915 A1A South in St. Augustine.
New accolades are going up on the wall of Donovan’s Irish Pub in St. Augustine. Winner of the best “Guinness Pour” at the Jacksonville Irish Fest, the pub’s Reuben sandwich also won the Best Ethnic Food award at this year’s Taste of St. Augustine. Fall will feature nightly specials and live entertainment. Donovan’s is located at 7440 U.S. 1 North.
In addition to a great location and comfortable rooms, guests arriving at the Rodeway Inn this fall will have the pleasure of dining at the hotel’s new Slugger’s Grille. Specializing in good, old fashioned Southern cooking, Slugger’s is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus each evening features a dinner special. Call Slugger’s at 904.819.5449. The Rodeway Inn is located at 2800 North Ponce de Leon Boulevard in St. Augustine.
The stylish Ponte Vedra neighborhoods along the intracoastal waterway might not seem like the place for a fish camp, but the food served at the new Palm Valley Fish Camp has already made the 70-seat restaurant a local favorite. Operated by Ben Groshell whose Marker 32 is one of the most stylish restaurants on the coast, the Palm Valley Fish Camp specializes in traditional servings of fresh local shrimp and fish that are fried, grilled or broiled The Palm Valley Fish Camp is located on SR 210 on the Intracoastal Waterway.
This fall, shoppers will find two new additions to the St. Augustine Premium Outlets and its impressive collection of 85 high-quality outlet stores located at I-95 exit 318. The first Brighton Collectibles outlet in Florida is now open, as well as the new Under Armour outlet. Plus, for those who want to shop-’til-you-drop, the brand new Courtyard by Marriott located nearby will be offering a Shop, Stay and Getaway package that includes discount accommodations, a $20 gift certificate redeemable at any St. Augustine Premium Outlet store and a VIP Coupon Book worth hundreds of dollars in additional savings.
Featuring a “who’s who” of luxury names including Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Juicy Couture and Cole Haan, as well as the only Gucci’s outlet store in the Southeast, Prime Outlets-St.Augustine continues to offer savings of up to 65 percent on some of the world’s most exclusive name brands. This fall, shoppers will discover new additions includingDooney & Bourke, Escada, Talbots, Journeys, Body Central, Red Brick Pizza and Hershey’s Ice Cream. Prime Outlets-St. Augustine is located at I-95’s exit 318.
Consistently selected by locals as St. Augustine’s “Most Unique Store” and “Favorite Gift Shop,” Rembrandtz Fine Gifts for Fun People is now offering the latest edition of local artist Tim Peterson’s hand-painted, St. Augustine-inspired Christmas ornaments. These custom ornaments capturing the holiday spirit of the Oldest City have become popular collector’s items. In addition, Rembrandtz will be offering a wide array of Nights of Lights specials. A popular stop on the city’s First Friday of the month Art Walk, Rembrandtz is located at 131 King Street.
This fall, incredible artisan creations are featured at Charlotte Kaye Gift and Glass Gallery – including a incredible giant wine glass hand-blown in Poland by artisans using centuries-old glass working techniques. The new item will hold the contents of 12 bottles of wine and measures a remarkable 39 inches tall! Fall specials include a 50 percent in-store discount for active duty personnel, seniors and Florida residents! The store is located at 100 St. George Street, Suite H in St. Augustine.
For more information on vacation opportunities and year-round performing arts, fine arts and special events in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau’s website www.Getaway4Florida.com or call 1.800.653.2489.