By VANESSA CACERES
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.
A Day in...
Amelia Island

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.

Jacksonville

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.

St. Augustine & Ponte Vedra

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.

Putnam County

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.

ANNUAL EVENTS
JANUARY
  • Old City Pirate Fest, St. Augustine
  • TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, Jacksonville
FEBRUARY
  • Amelia Island Book Festival
  • DONNA Breast Cancer Marathon, Jacksonville
  • Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games and Festival, Green Cove Springs
  • St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival
  • World of Nations Celebration, Jacksonville
FEBRUARY – APRIL
  • Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival
MARCH
  • Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
  • Gate River Run National 15K Championships, Jacksonville
  • THE PLAYERS Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach
APRIL
  • Springing the Blues Festival, Jacksonville
MAY
  • Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Fernandina Beach
  • Jacksonville Jazz Festival
JUNE
  • Drake’s Raid Re-enactment, St. Augustine
JULY
  • 4th of July fireworks, region wide
SEPTEMBER
  • Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference, St. Augustine
  • St. Augustine Founding Celebrations
OCTOBER
  • Creekside Music & Arts Festival, Palm Coast
  • Spooktacular, Jacksonville Zoo
NOVEMBER
  • Duuuval’s Bold City Bash, Florida-Georgia football game, Jacksonville
  • Jacksonville Light Boat Parade
  • Kids Free November, Jacksonville
  • Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic, Flagler Beach
NOVEMBER - JANUARY
  • Nights of Lights, St. Augustine
DECEMBER
  • Dickens on Centre, Amelia Island