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What To Do on the Quiet Side of Ponte Vedra

St. Augustine attracts millions of yearly visitors – and with good reason. The beaches are bright and the energy is vibrant. The weather is virtually perfect year-round. You don’t get the full blast of that vicious Florida summer heat that is present further south.

St. Augustine is an old-time paradise, and you can see that history at every turn in the architecture, the cobblestone paths, and the historic museums.

But, you may want to take a little break from the main parts of St. Augustine, such as downtown St. George Street or St. Augustine Beach. Skip on over to Ponte Vedra Beach to see a different side of the area for an afternoon away from beyond St. Augustine condo rentals and beaches.

view of the ocean

Introducing Ponte Vedra

Ponte Vedra sits just a few miles northeast of the area’s main downtown district. Ponte Vedra is rustic, rural, and gorgeous, with easily accessible beach sides and charming restaurants and cottage businesses right against the water. You can get to Ponte Vedra by crossing the Vilano Bridge north of the city. Turn left and keep on driving as you escape the busy attractions and enter a secluded and sunny little beachside town.

Ponte Vedra is almost completely contained within the area east of the Tolomato River. Because of this, it is a thin strip of land. All Ponte Vedra locals are within a few blocks of the ocean by default.

What is Ponte Vedra All About?

Ponte Vedra is a delightful hidden gem and an ideal place to escape for nature lovers. Ponce de Leon actually “founded” Florida right here in this spot. You can even visit the founding of “La Florida,” marked with a bronze statue against the water.

Over the years, St. Augustine locals realized the potential of the area- and that included money. Acting as a pleasant city escapes for some early St. Augustine local elites, Ponte Vedra’s frontier mining possibilities brought big developments (and sometimes bigger homes). Known as the Mineral City, locals flocked to this oceanfront playground. The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club were developed in 1928, adding some additional opulence to the region. 

Despite this, Ponte Vedra is extremely undeveloped. It contains at least 73,000 acres of protected land, predominantly as part of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. You can hike in the Nocatee Preserve or visit the south side beach entrance at Vilano beach for just a little more community. Vilano has some restaurants and a Publix shopping plaza

How to Get to Ponte Vedra

You can get to Ponte Vedra Beach by heading over the Vilano Bridge and heading straight up along the coast. This road north, A1A, will take you right to the town. If you stay on the path, you might even make it to Georgia.

ponte vedra overhead

Walking Bird Island Park

What attracts people to Ponte Vedra is the quiet escapism and a multitude of outdoor activities. You can take a break from the blistering local crowds and see a side of Florida you may not otherwise discover. There are two distinct parks that offer stunning trails away from the noise.

The first is Bird Island Park. The park grounds are just beautiful. The park is special due to its decorative layout. You can seek out a gorgeous sculpture garden near the entrance and take a few moments to reflect in the craftsmanship. Venture a little further out and you can find a hedge maze, with four beautiful benches set up in its center.

Bird Island Park features tender dunes, wide wetlands, and some colorful native flora and fauna. A winding trail is easy to navigate. This is a passive hike by the water, with a hammock stop, a gazebo hangout, and a boardwalk surrounding a pond along the way.

Finally, kids have access to a spacious play area by the shade. Program leaders may offer storytime, picnicking trips, bird watching, and other program events throughout the year.

The park is at Florida A1A, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

So what can you do once you get here?

Ponte Vedra is an excellent place to really soak up nature. Most guests hit the beach first and foremost. Thankfully, pets can join in the fun. Dogs are allowed on the beach in Ponte Vedra as long as they remain on a leash.

There is a main parking area at the Guana Tolomato reserve, locally called the GTM. This is where you can explore the marshes and trail ways of the area. The reserve is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. 

golf ball near hole

Visitors can head to the local golf course, the TPC Sawgrass. This mega-golf PGA tour site is highly acclaimed, acting as one of the most definitive golf locations in the state. It is also home to one of the most challenging holes possibly ever- the iconic par-3 17th hole, with its dense island and tight straights.

You may also have a blast playing at one of the only major developed parts of this small beachside haven. Delton Shores Park has a skate park, a dog park, a kids’ playground, basketball courts, a picnic pavilion, and some family-friendly trails. 

Finally, you can visit the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Local and touring acts alike perform often gorgeous and acclaimed acoustic-leaning performances. It is a nice cap-off on your day trip to the area.

Restaurants

Food is fine in the area. You have casual eateries and luxury dining experiences- a little something for everybody. We cover our top four favorite Ponte Vedra restaurants. 

  • JJ’s Liberty Bistro: Get a taste of some of the best French delights in this small eatery, with a lovely outdoor patio and a monthly list of special wine selections. 
  • Restaurant Medure: The chic and cheeky Medure embodies new American dining with a very classic Florida vibe.
  • Red’s Steakhouse: No fuss here at Red’s. This Ponte Vedra Square restaurant is your definitive source for good ol’ American-style barbeque.
  • Tuptim Thai: Tuptim is the answer to genuine Thai food in the area. Hot peppers, bamboo shoots, chicken curry, and more are all menu staples.

Don’t miss out on even more dining experiences when visiting Ponte Vedra, like the Sierra Grille and Two Dudes Seafood Shack.

Stopping by Delton Shores Park

Delton Shores Park is rather small compared to Bird Island Park, but it offers plenty of fun activities and recreational things to do. You have two basketball courts, a tennis court, a skate park, a dog park, and a kids’ play area.

It is found at 82 Dolphin Blvd. E., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

walking shoes

Hike the Nocatee Preserve

Nocatee Preserve is just massive. This is certainly the top choice for hiking enthusiasts. Three miles of unpaved trails head deep into the wetlands. The trail is open for mountain biking, and bird watchers are often found photographing nature right by the trailside.

The preserve is located at 501 Davis Park Rd., St. Augustine, FL.

Vilano Beach

Your introduction to Ponte Vedra will almost certainly be at Vilano Beach. This is a wonderful and majestic stop to take on your way to the town. When leaving St. Augustine, you will undoubtedly head over the Vilano Bridge. Take a right at the light and park by the water to see the quiet alternative to St. Augustine Beach that attracts savvy locals all year long.

You can visit Ponte Vedra for a day of hiking, but you can stay in St. Augustine for the proximity to downtown and your very own coastal rental. Our St. Augustine condo rentals give you the best opportunity to see everything in this sleepy seaside town.

Plan Your Next Visit

We offer top-tier St. Augustine beach rentals for your vacation escape. Make sure you add Ponte Vedra to your local destinations list. And be sure to peruse all our St. Augustine beach condo rentals for the best fit!

The Ocean Gallery Properties, Inc.

4600 Highway A1A South,
St. Augustine, Florida USA 32080
Information: (800) 398-5980
Reservations: (877) 542-2488
Local: (904) 471-6663
Fax: (904) 471-5994

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