Enjoy a scenic State Road A1A historic byway tour
Enjoy a scenic State Road A1A historic byway tour

Elaine Moody

The beauty of St. Augustine is timeless.

If your travels take you to northeast Florida and you are returning to Brevard County, I suggest you and your family enjoy the ride along scenic State Road A1A instead of Interstate 95.

Traveling on A1A in northeast Florida takes you along the Atlantic Ocean from south of Jacksonville through one of America’s oldest cities in St. Augustine, which was settled in 1565. 

A good exit to pick up A1A in Jacksonville on I-95 is exit 344 and then go east on State Road 202 to lovely Jacksonville Beach. Traveling south on this historic coastal byway, you will pass many lovely beach communities and beautiful scenery. You will be going through historic Ponte Vedra Beach. The area is known for its grand resorts, including the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. Stop and walk through the building and grounds. The area is known for its association with golf and is home to the PGA Tour & Players Championship.

As you motor south on A1A for the next 28 miles, you will  hug the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery on this portion of the drive south receives my five stars. At Vilano Beach, the barrier island ends and A1A turns west for a short drive into metro St. Augustine. The drive on A1A south into the heart of St. Augustine is most interesting as you pass a host of sights and historic stops.

Stop and visit the Castillo de San Marcos. It is a 17th century Spanish stone fortress with outstanding views of the inlet.

Plan a longer visit anytime from the middle of November and for the entire months of December and January of every year. St. Augustine has more than three million brilliant lights celebrating this gala holiday season. 

Continue traveling south on A1A over the historic Lions Bridge into Anastasia Island, passing the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the famous Alligator Farm. Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. This is a wonderful educational visit where you can enjoy an  informative guided tour that introduces you to the lighthouse, the Keeper‘s House, the cistern, active archaeology, restoration, building, maintenance and much more.

South on A1A, visit the historic Fort Matanzas. It was built in 1742 by the Spanish to guard Matanzas Inlet and the rear entrance to St. Augustine. Your family will enjoy a free ride by boat to the fort on the opposite riverside. On this site in 1565, the Spanish killed 245 French Huguenots in a struggle over control of Florida.

 This small, fortified watchtower guarded the southern entrance to St. Augustine. The northern entrance to the city was guarded by the larger Castillo de San Marcos fort, which was built in 1695, It is the oldest masonry fort in the United States.

Then, continue your journey south on A1A by viewing the many expensive homes and condos built overlooking the turbulent Atlantic Ocean. You will pass many highlights that are worth a visit, including the Washington Oaks Garden State Park. The ride is magnificent traveling south on A1A with the Atlantic Ocean from Flagler Beach to Ormond Beach.

At Ormond Beach, go west on State Road 40 to I-95. You will pass The Casement, John D. Rockefeller’s winter home. If time permits, consider this a great family educational stop. For information, call 386-676-3216.

 This A1A scenic and historic coastal byway tour meets all my requisites that it be educational, inexpensive and have something definitely worthwhile for the entire family and out-of-town guests. To access my more than 160 travel articles in past Senor Life publications, go to myseniorlife.com. All the destinations are attractively planned for the entire family.