St. Augustine Beach is located on 18-mile long Anastasia Island. Just north of St. Augustine Beach off A1A is Anastasia State Park, consisting of 1700 acres of land for camping, picnicking, boating, hiking, fishing, swimming and wind surfing. Dip your toes in the water along the 5 miles of shoreline, explore tidal marshes, stare up at the ancient oak trees and keep an eye out for any of the more than 470 bird species that live in, or migrate through, Florida. Many varieties of birds can be seen along the Great Florida Birding Trail. Guides are available at various Gateways. Another wonderful bird watching locale is Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. This park is a short drive from St. Augustine Beach and offers walking trails, surf fishing, swimming and picnic areas. Guana River Wildlife Management Area and Guana River State Park are both prime areas for birding. There are 12 miles of trails through a variety of environments, including hammocks, scrub forests and wetlands. St. Augustine Alligator Farm, located next to Anastasia State Park, is a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail. Boardwalks wind among the alligator ponds above which egrets, storks and herons nest. There are 23 species of alligators and crocodiles at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, including rare white alligators.
The City of St. Augustine lies just over the Bridge of the Lions from St. Augustine Beach. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is filled with history. The oldest house in America is here. The home dates to 1600 and was constructed of tabby, a mixture of lime, shells and sand. A mulberry tree, planted in the 1830s still grows in the garden. The site of the first free black community in America is on the north side of the city. Mission of Nombre de Dios dates back to the founding of St. Augustine; the fort Castillo de San Marcos was built in 1672. The National Archeological Park is home to Ponce De Leonís Fountain of Youth, and walled St. Augustine Village retains an ambience that befits homes that were visited by celebrities starting in 1790 with Napoleonís nephew, Prince Murat. The Colonial Spanish Quarter contains buildings of varying styles that reflect life from the mid 1700s. Other points of interest include the Lightner Museum which is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel. The Alcazar Hotel was built by Henry Flagler in 1888 and converted into a museum by Otto C. Lightner in 1948. Potterís Wax Museum contains more than 170 life-sized figures of historical importance. The Historic Old Jail Complex features the Florida Heritage Museum and the Old Jail with weapons and displays. The original Ripleyís Believe It of Not Museum is in St. Augustine. The World Golf Village and Hall of Fame showcases the history of the game, the Walk of Champions, the Hall of Fame, shopping and restaurants along with several excellent golf courses. One of the most recognizable landmarks in St. Augustine is the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The working light may be viewed up close by climbing 219 steps. A museum contains displays depicting life as a light keeper, the role of the US Coast Guard in St. Augustine during WW II, and shipwreck artifacts.
St. Augustine Beach is an hourís drive north of the Daytona 500. Two hours away is the Space Center at Cape Kennedy, as are Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. Nearby is Ponte Vedra Beach, home of the PGA tourís The Players Championship. Ponte Vedra Beach is also home to the Association of Tennis Players. There are six professional sport-fishing tournaments in St. Johns County each year, some offering prizes of up to $50,000.