Things To Do

Ponta Vedra Beach Things To Do


It’s been called the best place to live in Florida (Money Magazine, 2005), and if you golf, play tennis or can stand a day or two at the spa – you’ll agree. Ponte Vedra Beach is far from ‘the action’ and that’s how its residents like it – a laid-back, beautiful corner of the coast where a relaxing day starts on the beach, finds time for golf and ends at the spa (or the bar?).

Ponta Vedra’s Feel and Flavor

Orient yourself starting from the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and go from there. This is a very quiet and residential beach town; put Daytona Beach in mind and then conjure the exact opposite. PVB recognizes it has a good thing and keeps it quiet – and, to an extent, fairly locked up. Its gorgeous beaches are harder to access than elsewhere along the coast but persistence (to find parking) pays off.

Although busier through snowbird season, this well-to-do enclave remains very welcoming to families – the town’s median age is early 40s and so its restaurants offer a respectable mix of grown-up ambiance and kids menus with high chairs. Ponte Vedra’s only logistical peculiarity is that you’ll require a car – this spread-out town is beautiful but not at all walkable.

Ponta Vedra Beach To…

Jacksonville 25 miles 30 minutes
St. Augustine 30 miles 35-45 minutes
Palm Coast 50 miles 75 minutes
Orlando 130 miles 2 hours 30 minutes
* Using shortest route available, not necessarily the most scenic

History

The 1942 landing of a German U-boat is Ponte Vedra’s dubious claim to fame. Four spies came ashore on PVB, before walking north to Jacksonville Beach and eventually making it to Cincinnati and Chicago. The PVB Chamber paints the whole story of Operation Pastorius – now a strange local quirk in WWII history.

Beach Basics

  • What to expect: As a visitor to Ponte Vedra Beach, gaining access to the beach is a small victory worthy of an ice cream at the very least. Once you’ve arrived and decamped you’ll appreciate why – you’ll have gorgeous stretches of sand to yourself, with none of the tourist trappings found elsewhere.
  • Sand: Ponte Vedra Beach’s sand has two aspects you’ll like. On top, it’s the soft, white stuff you want. An inch or so underneath, find a layer of crushed shells which (following high tide) are firm enough to walk, run or ride a bike on.
  • Shells and sharks’ teeth: Those in-the-know insist you look at low tide, far from the parking area. Apparently that’s the sweet spot – especially after a storm! For sharks’ teeth tours, see page {X}.
  • Safety: When swimming in the ocean, always take caution against rip tides. Check the day’s conditions using the helpful links on page {X}. Ponte Vedra Beach has a peculiarly steep slope, invisible at high tide, and gets deep very quickly.
How Can I Find Sharks’ Teeth?

As in any hunt, you need to know what you’re looking for. Head to the line where the receding water has left other shells and debris. Surprisingly, these fossilized sharks’ teeth are black – and they’re small, shiny and triangular. Don’t be fooled by shards of mussel shells – this is, indeed, a search. If you see other people doing similar, ask if they’ve had any luck – maybe they’ll share their tips. This is a great way to keep kids busy!

Beach Access and Parking

They haven’t made it easy in PVB – but it’s worth the extra effort. This map shows the public rights of way.

BEST BEACH SPOT: MICKLER’S LANDING

  • Pronounced: Mike-ler’s
  • Address: 1112 Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • GPS: 30.161879, -81.357740
  • Getting there: There’s no sign, so you’ll feel like a local once you hit the public parking just off Ponte Vedra Blvd. and head down the wooden boardwalk (visible on Google Maps’ Satellite view if you have trouble).
  • Parking: Free
  • Sunset: Get a little romantic, this is an absolute favorite spot for a well-timed beach walk.
  • Facilities: Simple but clean bathrooms and outdoor showers. The wooden walkway is wheelchair accessible.

What to see and do (sights and attractions)

Golf

Watching golf: The PLAYERS Championship at Sawgrass

If you’re visiting Ponte Vedra in May, you might be lucky to snag tickets to the golf event in Florida. However, at all other times of year it’s possible to visit TPC Sawgrass and say “I’ve seen the green”. As a golf fan, standing on the 17th hole of this course is akin to seeing Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower – it’s a must when is this part of the world.

In a happy case of right place/right time, the PGA sought a home for its Tournament Players Championship while the Sawgrass development was underway. Ensuring their selection, developers offered 400 acres to the PGA for $1 – a steal even forty years ago. Ten years later, The PLAYERS Championship took up residence in its new home at the Stadium Course. Golf fans won’t find a course better designed with them in mind.

  • How to get tickets: See details on the PGA tour website – and be sure to plan ahead!

Where to park: If you’re a lucky ticket holder for this tournament, we have a few parking tips. Expect high volumes of traffic from Thursday through Sunday of the tournament weekend. A park-and-ride shuttle option is available on Palm Valley Road (it is well-signed coming south from Sawgrass on the A1A).

Why is The PLAYERS Championship so famous?

With the highest value prizes of any tournament, you can expect to see the top 50 golfers in the world play a course designed to give fans the best views.

Playing Golf

TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course)

  • Whether you want to play a full round or would rather take a tour, TPC Sawgrass keeps their year-round operation focused on the fans and is extremely welcoming to all ages and skill levels. No matter when you come, you’ll find the clubhouse open with restaurant choices and a large pro shop for all manner of golfing souvenirs.
  • Dining: See Ponte Vedra restaurants, page {X}, for more detail
  • Website: http://www.tpc.com/tpc-sawgrass
  • Address: 110 Championship Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Layout: 7,215 yards, par 72 (Players Stadium Course)

TOUR Academy at TPC Sawgrass (golf schools and lessons)

  • Whether you’re a beginner with little time, or an accomplished golfer with children in tow – TPC Sawgrass has a class in TOUR Academy for you. They offer 2-5 day Golf Schools – including daily golf, private lessons and junior camps. Book early and get excited!
  • Website: TPC Sawgrass TOUR Academy online
  • Children: Junior programs available for ages 7-17

Sawgrass Country Club (Private)

  • Previously home to The Players Championship, Golf Digest rates this club and its three distinct courses (9 holes each) very highly. The club is private but is well recommended by other visitors who have managed an invitation.
  • Features: Lots of water
  • Website: http://www.sawgrasscountryclub.com
  • Address: 10034 Golf Club Drive, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
My husband loves golf… I don’t. What can I do all day?

Hopefully this guidebook offers a few ideas for all interests. Assuming that you’re sharing a car, you could easily spend an enjoyable day in Ponte Vedra Beach, or drive 30-45 minutes to Jacksonville or St. Augustine and enjoy a day to yourself (spa, window-shopping or even a women-only kayak eco tour or surf camp). You’ve got dozens of options to have a great time, far from golf.

Birding

Bird Island Park

An easily accessibly stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail, with two walking trails as well as a boardwalk around the park’s pond. Spend a while observing this example of Northeast Florida’s ecosystem – benches keep you comfortable,  while information signs on local wildlife, as well as a cellphone audio tour, mean there’s plenty to get out of a visit. The park is especially rewarding during migration, when its rookery reaches maximum occupancy.

Shopping

Sawgrass Village

A convenient group of shops and restaurants near TPC Sawgrass. A much-improved take on the strip mall, it’s laid out in a village format and occasionally hosts art and classic car festivals. Many of our recommended Ponte Vedra restaurants are here.

Miscellaneous shopping
  • General beach supplies: About 3 blocks of shops selling or renting assorted ‘beach things’ on the scenic A1A.
  • Boutiques: If you prefer independent boutiques or can never get enough window-shopping, head to Ponte Vedra’s center, where home décor and small gift shops line the scenic A1A. Try Mineral City and the Pineapple Post, among many others.

See also – St. John’s Town Center

Spas

Ponte Vedra Inn and Club spa

         Make the good life last – spend a full day with your spouse or girlfriends, choosing from a complete range of treatments, as well as lunch and time by the pool (in a fluffy white robe, no less). A few ideas include manicure/pedicures, a sleek new haircut and a full spa massage menu available in any of their 22 treatment rooms. Once your massage is underway, you’ll likely fall asleep to the sound of water bubbling nearby.

The Spa at Sawgrass (Sawgrass Marriott)

         Taking design cues from the Far East, the spa at Sawgrass Marriott stands in 15 acres – you’re far removed from daily stressors before you’ve even begun. Nineteen treatment rooms accommodate a full menu of options, including hydrotherapy and couples’ massage. Ever had a soothie? Try this spa staple beside the pool, as you wait for your pedicure to dry.

  • Website: http://www.sawgrassmarriott.com/spa
  • Address: 1000 PGA Tour Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Keep in mind: Day passes for the fitness center, and yoga/Pilates classes also available

Enjoying Ponta Vedra Outdoors

Nature, water sports and outdoor recreation

Guana River Reserve

The reserve in entirety comprises a massive 73,352 acres of wetlands from the coast going inland, with St. Augustine in the middle. Within this, a 2,000-acre sanctuary (the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, or GTM) is a must-visit for all ages and interests. Whether for an educational day, an eco-adventure or simply a day of relaxing on a completely unspoiled beach – the GRR has options to last weeks and more. Outdoorsy highlights include hiking, fishing, four miles of protected, natural beach, and canoeing on Guana Lake (on the other side of the A1A from the beach). Trails span over ten miles, while beach-goers and boaters have four access points and two boat ramps to choose from. Cap the day off with a picnic!

3 facts about the GTM:
  • The GTM is as far north as you’ll see mangroves on this coast of the U.S.
  • Sand dunes at the GTM measure up to 40 feet high – amongst Florida’s tallest.
  • The right whale (an endangered species) visits here each year to give birth
  • See also: Eco-tour information on page {X}
Environmental Education Center

         Learn about the unique ecosystem of this part of Florida in a learning center that’s part museum, part aquarium and will capture any number of interests. Exhibits present the area’s natural history, while aquariums showcase just what’s swimming out there in the ocean and estuaries. Also, get the chance to watch marine scientists at work in their labs.

  • Website: www.gtmnerr.org/index.html
  • Address: 505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Children: Check the website for kids’ programs and to adopt a sea turtle nest
  • Pets: Prohibited on the beach, allowed on-leash elsewhere in the park
  • Keep in mind: Open daily except on state holidays

Other Places of Interest

With Kids or Teens

Shopping – St. Johns Town Center

See the St. Johns Town Center website for details on this upscale, outdoor mall – ideal for keeping teenage girls happy and adequately accessorized.

Boogie boarding

An easier (and cheaper) intro to the world of water-sports, buy a boogie board at any local beach shop (or Publix) & your kids’ vacation is sorted. You might want to grab one for yourself – it’s fun!

Bedtime reading about old-time Ponte Vedra

If traveling with younger children, this is a great book to tuck away for vacation bed-time stories. Once Upon a Summertime by Marion “Muffet” Whatley Cowart recounts a young girl’s experience growing up in 1930s Ponte Vedra – a very different place back then, with far more cows! Cowart recommends this book for “beach children of all ages”. Buy your copy on Amazon in advance of your trip.

Miscellaneous

Mayo Clinic

Medical treatment and research facility with over 40 specialties.

Winston Y

This YMCA fitness center and swimming pool welcomes anyone with a YMCA membership from elsewhere.

Nocatee Farmers’ Market

Peruse local specialties or graze on an eclectic breakfast or lunch at this once-a-month farmers’ market. Find the usual market offerings of local produce, handicrafts and home-made jam, with a tasty regional twist of St. Augustine crab cakes and pulled pork.

  • Website: http://www.nocatee.com
  • Address: 245 Little River Road, Ponte Vedra, FL 32081
  • Keep in mind: Every 3rd Saturday of the Month from 10 am – 2 p.m.

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

Though known as this coast’s most upscale beach, Ponte Vedra has some great family options – even at TPC Sawgrass. By the end of your first day, you’ll have a new favorite. However, if picky eaters in your group prefer to eat what they know – all the trusted chains can be found as well. So, are you celebrating or just plain hungry?

Tip! Eating out in Ponte Vedra Beach? You can spend as much or as little as you like at area restaurants – but in almost every case you’ll need to drive there. Will you take turns designated-driving?

Breakfast

Elizabeth’s Cafe

A great little local’s secret serving decadent breakfasts: pancakes, waffles and eggs/sausage/bacon. Very near the Sawgrass Marriott – try it before a round of golf. Why not try: home-fries.

Lunch & dinner

Palm Valley Fish Camp

Fish is the order of the day, with take-out options available if you’d rather take a picnic (advised if you don’t make advanced reservations). A popular spot in a tight space – plan to enjoy a busy and bustling environment. Valet parking and a nice Intracoastal location to wait outside for your table. Save room for: sweet and salty chocolate torte.

  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Website: http://www.palmvalleyfishcamp.com
  • Address: 299 Roscoe Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Children: Kids’ menu available
  • Keep in mind: Opens late on Mondays for dinner only
Restaurant Medure

A personal favorite of Vacation Rental Pros! An upscale room for a special occasion – anniversaries, birthdays and any romantic occasion. However, if you want a taste of something special on any old Tuesday, try a lounge seat or a bar stool, ordering a selection of appetizers. Expect service in keeping with a refined menu, you’ll want to iron to your beach clothes before dining here. Save room for: vanilla bean crème brûlée.

  • Cuisine: French and Italian flavors, fine cuisine
  • Website: http://restaurantmedure.us
  • Address: 818 A.1.A North, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Keep in mind: Themed happy hours, including ladies’ nights – see website for details.
Aqua Grill

An institution, with a menu for every taste, and daily specials to keep you coming back. Aqua Grill has frequently made Jacksonville Magazine’s list of “Top 25 Restaurants” – an accolade shared by the voting public on sites such as TripAdvisor and UrbanSpoon. Best of all? Every dish promises to be free of artificial ingredients! Why not try: Parmesan Truffle Fries.

  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Website: http://www.aquagrill.net
  • Address: 950 Sawgrass Village Dr, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Children: Kids’ menu available
  • Keep in mind: Sunday-Funday events through the summer feature live music on a lakefront outdoor deck.
Pacific Fusion

Sneak fresh and healthy into your vacation, with some sake on the side. Presentation will stop you mid-sentence – try the lava roll or crazy dynamite roll and you’ll see (bring a camera). Save room for: mango sticky rice.

  • Cuisine: Sushi and Thai
  • Website: http://www.pacificfusionjax.com
  • Address: 2 Fairfield Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Children: Kids’ menu available
  • Keep in mind: Open for dinner only on Sundays, take out available
    Barbara Jean’s
Barbara Jean’s

Arrive early and feel mighty smug in the knowledge that dozens wish they had your table. An Intracoastal location perfect for outdoor feasting on home-style southern cooking. Work up an appetite on the beach, then try Barbara Jeans’s chicken-fried steak. Bread is baked fresh daily, and the sand parking lot lets you know that a casual brunch, lunch or dinner awaits. Save room for: Chocolate “Stuff”.

  • Cuisine: Seafood and home-style cooking
  • Website: http://www.barbarajeans.com/pontevedradir.html
  • Address: 15 South Roscoe Blvd.., Ponte Vedra, FL 32082
  • Children: Kids’ menu available
  • Keep in mind: For dinner, arrive by 5:30 or wait awhile. Weekend breakfast available.
Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse

A quality experience with a formula you know and trust. Readers of Florida Monthly voted this location their Best Steakhouse. Happy hour menu also available. Save room for: Caramelized Banana Cream Pie.

Urban Flats

         Fresh, seasonal pizza toppings baked in the stone-hearth oven. Enjoy wine specials on Wednesdays. Save room for: chocolate fondue.

Dining at TPC Sawgrass

Two restaurants at TPC Sawgrass welcome members of the public. Nineteen offers a daily happy hour, as well as Sunday brunches and suppers, plus casual breakfast, lunch and dinner. A large verandah overlooks both the 9th and 18th holes. For a fancy lunch, try Traditions. What to try while you wait: sawgrass splash cocktail.

Cabana Club at Sawgrass Marriott (‘619 Ocean View’)

Hard to go wrong with an ocean-front burger and beer – and the Cabana Club gets it right every time. Easy parking makes this a great stop any afternoon. Why not try: the daily kettle creation.

Drinks and Snacks

Pusser’s Restaurant

While the food won’t change your life, Pusser’s offers $5 lunches on weekdays in a lively, Caribbean environment. Very near the Marriott at Sawgrass, it’s a great meet-up spot for cocktails after a day of golf or spa treatments. Ideal with a group for happy hour outside. Why not try: Pusser’s Painkiller rum cocktail.

  • Cuisine: Caribbean
  • Website: Pusser’s Restaurant online
  • Address: 816 Highway A1A North Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
  • Keep in mind: Live reggae outside on Sundays through the summer, plus Sunday brunch.

Ponte Vedra Beach with pets

Unless signs state otherwise, pets are welcome on Ponte Vedra beaches, as long as they have a collar with ID tags and remain on a leash. As always, remember the heat; carry water for your dog and never leave him in a parked car. You might find these spots useful while in the area:

Paws Dog Park at Davis park

A fenced dog park with a pond for deserved cooling off.

Ponte Vedra Animal Hospital

DogTown USA (boarding, daycare, grooming)

  • Website: http://dogtownresorts.com
  • Address: 6988 U.S. 1  St. Augustine, FL 32095
  • Keep in mind: Pick-up/drop-off service available in Sawgrass

Hounds Hair

  • Website: http://houndshair.com
  • Address: 935 Florida A1A, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

Keep in mind: Closed Sunday and Monday

Equipment Rental

Two rental outfitters offer delivery to Ponte Vedra Beach (details below). For a wider range of watersports rentals and charter options, please see sections on St. Augustine (page {X}) and Jacksonville (page {X}).

Big Billʼs Beach Stuff

  • Equipment: bikes, boogie boards, kayaks, wide selection of beach equipment
  • Website: http://www.bigbillsbeachstuff.com
  • Address: 5122 Hwy A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080
  • Children: Also rent helmets and kiddie karts/child seats
  • Keep in mind: delivery available for a fee

Rent Beach Stuff

  • Equipment: bikes, kayaks, chairs, umbrellas, boards, snorkel gear… and metal detectors
  • Website: http://www.rentbeachstuff.com
  • Children: Also rent jogging strollers, kiddie karts/child seats

Keep in mind: delivery available for a fee



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