Northeast Florida is often called the First Coast or Historic Coast, and with good reason. Spanish explorers first landed here more than 500 years ago, when Ponce de León named the region "La Florida" in 1513. Today, the Historic Coast blends its European influence with Southern hospitality, welcoming beaches and plenty of fun. Northeast Florida begins where Interstate 95 crosses into the state from Georgia. The area includes the major cities of Jacksonville and St. Augustine as well as the popular areas of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Coast.




Start with a sunrise stand up paddleboard outing along  13 miles of scenic Atlantic shoreline, or settle into a kayak and enjoy a guided tour through the marsh and surrounding waterways. Plan an afternoon at Fort Clinch, followed by a shopping stroll in downtown Fernandina Beach to uncover the history and charm, which keep the destination a top island favorite among Condé Nast Traveler’s readers. Spend your evening savoring culinary delights at one of the nationally acclaimed chefs’ tables.


Welcome a new day with a sunrise beach walk, then fuel up your morning with fresh biscuits at Maple Street Biscuit Company and a local coffee at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters. Grab your board, or rent one, and learn to surf in Jax Beach, one of the best spots in Florida! For lunch, enjoy the locally caught Mayport shrimp at one of the  fish camps (casual seafood restaurant). In Riverside, explore the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, then enjoy dinner and a craft beer in the famous Five Points district.


Step back in time at the historic Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Take a sip of legen-dary water at the Fountain of Youth. Keep little hands busy at the interactive Pirate and Treasure Museum. See every species of crocodilian at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Find your perfect spot on the shore along 42 miles of beach. Challenge your golf game at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Enjoy the spicy datil pepper in the Minorcan Clam Chowder at Barnacle Bills.


Tour Palatka’s 30 plus murals that depict the history of Putnam County. Plan to visit the 1850s Antebellum Bronson-Mulholland House and adjacent Putnam Historic Museum. Drive or hike through the scenic Ravine Gardens State Park. Be sure to visit the St. Johns River Center located on the beautiful St. Johns Riverfront Park. Dine in one of Putnam County’s restaurants where you can get local fare and catch the vibe of the town. End your day relaxing aboard a water taxi on the beautiful St. Johns River.

Northeast Florida has no shortage of arts and culture destinations. From a symphony orchestra to well-regarded museums, visitors can find something for everyone.

In St. Augustine, tours of places like Villa Zorayda Museum give a glimpse into the past. The building was originally constructed in 1883 as a winter residence and was made of poured concrete and crushed coquina shell. Villa Zorayda is built to one-tenth the scale of a section of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Tours detail its historic significance in St. Augustine’s history and display many unique items—there’s even the “Sacred Cat Rug” that is more than 2,400 years old.

Nearby, Flagler College was built by railroad magnate Henry M. Flagler in the late 1880s, originally as Hotel Ponce de León, one of the most exclusive resorts of its day. Now an historic landmark, the stunning architecture and sights at the college include a 68-foot domed ceiling, a dining room with 79 Tiffany stained glass windows, and original hotel furniture and art.

For an in-depth look at St. Augustine’s visual arts, take part in the First Friday Art Walk, which includes more than 20 art galleries opening their doors for the evening. Enjoy refreshments, receptions and live music for free. There’s complimentary parking and a free shuttle at San Sebastian Winery on King Street where you can board the Old Town Trolley or Ripley’s Red Train Tours to most of the galleries. They run every 30 minutes on a continuous loop.

If you want to take in a show, The Amp, (formerly known as the St. Augustine Amphitheatre) seats 4,100 and is considered St. Johns County’s leading multi-purpose arts facility. Recent performing acts have included the Doobie Brothers, Bill Currington Widespread Panic and ZZ Top. St. Augustine’s Farmers Market and the Night Market are also held on the grounds of the amphitheatre.

Another place to enjoy music and shows is the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach. It features performing artists from around the globe as well as special events and community gatherings. The concert hall also has convention and meeting spaces.

Southwest of St. Augustine in Putnam County, Palatka features more than 30 outdoor murals.

In February, head north on U.S. Route 17 to Green Cove Springs for the annual Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games & Festival. For a year-round glimpse at the region’s Scottish connection, just visit its historical and military museums.

In downtown Jacksonville, the monthly First Wednesday Art Walk covers 15-plus blocks of arts and culture. Check out more than 40 art & cultural galleries, museums, live performance venues and restaurants. The tour connects visitors to the dozens of artists and street performers in Hemming Park.

From September to May, the Jacksonville Symphony makes its home in the Robert E. Jacoby Symphony Hall, praised for its great acoustics, at the Times–Union Center for the Performing Arts, and also performs at other venues in Northeast Florida and around the state. The symphony is ranked among the country’s top regional orchestras.

Featuring two stages of live music, local food, drinks and shopping, the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival is promoted as one of the largest jazz festivals in the U.S. The festival has been part of the area since 1981 and takes over 10 blocks of downtown.

Amelia Island welcomes its annual Chamber Music Festival in February, March and April, with concerts featuring world-renowned musicians.


With more than 450 years of history, St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the U.S. The city takes its history seriously and has 36 buildings of colonial origin still standing in the historic district. To get the real skinny on the city’s history without wearing out your feet, step aboard the Ripley’s Red Train Tours or Old Town Trolleys. Both sell all-day tickets so you can hop on and hop off as you please.

While in St. Augustine, embrace your early explorer on a visit to Castillo de San Marcos, a national park that began construction in 1672. The structure is considered the oldest masonry fort in the country.

Over at Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, you can drink water from its “fountain”—but you may come away with fun memories more than ageless qualities. It’s located on the actual site of the first settlement in St. Augustine and was founded 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before Plymouth Rock. Check out the cosmos in the planetarium, visit the Timucuan Village or marvel at the sound of the Spanish cannon. For all the dog lovers out there, the Fountain of Youth is a pet-friendly attraction.

St. Augustine has plenty of tours to guide you around town, from art walks and a “pup crawl” (a walking tour on which you can bring your dog) to nighttime ghost tours and culinary-focused themes. There’s even the St. Augustine Scavenger Hunt: The Pretty Ancient City, where you embark on a quest for treasures while discovering the city’s many great sights.

A visit to St. Augustine isn’t complete without stopping by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. Its exhibit, Wrecked, tells the story of a Revolutionary War-era shipwreck off the area’s coast.

In Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will take you on a world tour of animals without ever leaving Florida. From its Wild Florida area to Monsoon Asia, the Africa Loop, and more, you’ll view dozens of animals that are hard to spot elsewhere.

For a different view of Jacksonville, use the St. Johns River Taxi in the downtown area. The taxi service also offers tours.

A popular attraction in Fernandina Beach is Fort Clinch State Park, where history and nature meet. Explore one of the best-preserved 19th-century forts in the country, then hike or bike on the park’s trails, featuring maritime hammocks, massive live oak trees and wildlife.


Outdoor gems are abundant in Northeast Florida. Whether you want to take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, fish in the St. Johns River or take selfies at a park, there are plenty of options.

Southwest of St. Augustine, Putnam County is known as the “Bass Capital of Florida” and is home to three of the top bass fisheries in the state. The county is also the trail hub of Northeast Florida and offers ample hiking, biking and paddling trails. Be sure to check out the 59-acre Ravine Gardens State Park created in a natural steephead ravine.

Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine teaches visitors about the beauty of dolphins and provides interactive attractions such as a meet and greet or dolphin swim program.

When you’re ready to chill with some beach time, you can’t go wrong with a visit to St. Augustine Beach which continues to receive impressive accolades. This popular destination was, once again, named one of America’s top 10 beaches by TripAdvisor.

Another way to indulge in the area’s many water attractions is through a guided kayak tour that allows you to paddle the back-waters of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in the Ponte Vedra area. It is one of the best places to kayak in Northeast Florida.

The city of Jacksonville actually has the largest urban park system in the U.S. So, plenty of natural adventures await you in Northeast Florida, be it in a city or rural area.

Jacksonville boasts 22 miles of spectacu-lar beaches. If you’re visiting Jacksonville area, consider using its free Beach Buggies to get around Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville beaches and easily explore all of the beachy neighborhoods and attractions.

For more picturesque adventures on the water, Amelia Island offers Amelia River Cruises and Charters or a privately chartered sunset cruise with Windward Sailing. If you’re looking to reel in fish, Amelia Boat Club & Rentals provides rentals for fishing, cruising or sightseeing.


In the mood for family fun? Foodie finds? History? Northeast Florida has something for everyone. For instance, you can dine at Florida’s oldest diner, Angel’s Diner, in Putnam County. In St. Augustine, foodies will rejoice at The Floridian Restaurant where they can enjoy farm-to-table meals with a Southern vibe. The restaurant’s carefully crafted dishes are sure to please meat and non-meat eaters alike.

The St. Augustine Distillery, producing handcrafted, small batch spirits, opened in 2014 in a former ice plant. It uses Florida-grown ingredients to make spirits like vodka, rum and gin. Take advantage of its free tours and complimentary samples. San Sebastian Winery, not far from the St. Augustine Dis-tillery, also conducts free tours and tastings.

If you’re all about the food—and let’s face it, who isn’t?—then sign up for the tour at St. Augustine’s Whetstone Chocolates. Of course, you’ll get mouthwatering samples. At Kernel Popper’s Gourmet Popcorn on St. George Street, try samples of caramel sea salt, Dr. Pepper or dill pickle popcorn, among its cornucopia of flavors, before settling on your favorite.

Golfers and nostalgia lovers will want to dine at The Murray Brothers Caddyshack Restaurant. It’s a favorite in the World Golf Village with plenty of memorabilia from the classic movie, starring Bill Murray.

Duffers might also want to check out an original Donald Ross-designed golf course in Palatka, due west of Marineland.

In Ponte Vedra Beach, Barbara Jean’s on the Water has a great view of the Intracoastal Waterway and outdoor seating. Go for seafood specials like fried shrimp or catfish, or try Southern comfort food such as meatloaf or chicken fried steak.

Jacksonville’s nightlife is filled with bars, pubs and live music venues. Bar hop, dance the night away or buy that happy-hour cocktail—it’s all ready for the taking in vibrant neighborhoods like Riverside, downtown, Avondale and San Marco.

Jacksonville is a leader in Florida’s booming craft beer scene. One way to experience all it has to offer is on the Jax Ale Trail, a self-guided tour of the city’s award-winning craft breweries. Grab a Jax Ale Trail Craft Beer Passport, and get a stamp at each of the local stops, which include Bold City, Green Room, Pinglehead, Aardwolf, Engine 15, Veterans United Craft Brewery and Intuition Ale Works. Jacksonville also has a full-scale organic distillery called Manifest Distilling.

In downtown Fernandina Beach, The Patio Place provides a comfortable backdrop to indulge in sweet or savory crêpes and sit outside after a long day on the beach. 


Get a beachy view at a laid-back pace along A1A between Flagler Beach and Fernandina Beach. This route runs parallel to the much busier I-95, and you get to cruise along the scenic route while stopping off as needed for meals, souvenirs or to snap an ocean shot.

Take in a country view for more than 60 miles along U.S.-17 between Orange Park and Crescent City. Along the way, view the picturesque St. Johns River, enjoy rolling hills (hard to come by in Florida), and stop at places like the Log Cabin Winery in Putnam County.

On the Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail in the Flagler Beach area, take the double loop along scenic roads where you’ll pass by the Atlantic Ocean and Old Dixie Highway. Other highlights include driving past the winter home of John D. Rockefeller, the historic Ormond Beach fire station and sunset views near Granada Boulevard Bridge.

Head off on SR-13 just south of Jacksonville, and leisurely make your way to the small town of Spuds. This route gives you a near constant view of the St. Johns River, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you drive past older homes and trees covered with Spanish moss. Two highlights along the route: the homes of writer Harriet Beecher Stowe and composer Frederick Delius.


St. Augustine Outlets, right off I-95, carries more than 75 brand-name retailers, offering discounts up to 65 percent. Nearby, St. Augustine Premium Outlets advertises exceptional discounts up to 65 percent at more than 85 stores, including Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, J.Crew, Nike Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren and Reebok.

Ready for some unique finds? Then head on down to the pedestrian-only St. George Street in St. Augustine’s Historic District. Find a bohemian piece of jewelry at Earthbound Trading Co. Nearby, stop by the Spice & Tea Exchange, an 18th-century-like trading post with displays of teas and spices that will stimulate your taste buds. At Bath Junkie, you can personalize bath and body products with customized scents. Find a gift for the artsy folks in your life at any of St. Augustine’s numerous galleries located in the historic district.

The Farmers Market, held at The Amp on Saturdays, welcomes vendors from local farms, bakers, seafood merchants and artisans.

The St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville is the place to hit for the latest upscale merchandise from shops such as Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Apple and Nordstrom. The town center also includes bargain stores such as DSW Shoes.

Minutes away from downtown, Jacksonville Farmers Market is the oldest operating outdoor farmers’ market in Florida. Since 1939, vendors have offered fresh produce, herbs and local favorites, such as Mayport shrimp. Browse for crafts and handmade goods daily from dawn to dusk. For more market exploration, check out Jaxsons Night Market, a craft market held on the third Thursday of each month at Hemming Park. There’s also Riverside Arts Market, hailed as Florida’s largest open-air market. Held on Saturdays, find local arts and crafts, food galore, a free yoga class, children’s activities and live entertainment. The view isn’t too shabby, either—it’s right beside the St. Johns River.

Flagler Museum
Central Florida
Wakulla County
Martin County
Daytona Beach