Tips for An Active St. Augustine Vacation

As times are changing, active and adventure travel is growing in popularity. Adventure travel is defined by the Adventure Travel Trade Association as a combination of physical activity, a connection with nature and cultural immersion. More than ever, people are trading in their vacations of nonstop relaxation for getaways where they gain authentic experiences and live like the locals for a few days.

In 2015, the adventure tourism market generated a revenue of $7.88 million, and the industry is expected to grow by 46% by 2020.

There are many perks to planning an active vacation. You can see your destination in a different way than most visitors typically would, and you’ll also be able to stay healthy in the midst of eating out and indulging.

St. Augustine is set in the healthiest county in Florida. The beautiful scenery and coastal climate make The Ancient City an ideal setting for staying active. So, if you’re planning a trip to St. Augustine, check out our ideas of ways to incorporate health and wellness into your stay.

Bike/Walk around town

Two girls ride down Hypolita Street. Photo credit: OldCity.com

St. Augustine is one of the most walkable cities in Florida. The city is very accessible by foot or by bike. This way, you can skip the hassle of finding parking and get up close and personal with The Ancient City. Whether you’re staying in downtown, uptown, or out at the beach, you’ll be in close proximity to shops, restaurants, historical sites, and attractions. St. Augustine is extremely pedestrian-friendly with sidewalks and crosswalks situated frequently throughout the city.

If you’re interested in renting a bike, we recommend:

 

 

Hit the trails

Anastasia State Park. Photo credit: OldCity.com

Trail hiking is one of the best ways to engage or immerse yourself in the nature around you. Get away from the hustle and bustle and experience tranquil trails, diverse ecosystems, and breathtaking views in some of the most beautiful trails in Northeast Florida.

  • Ancient Dunes Trail at Anastasia State Park – This is the official trail of Anastasia State Park. It goes through a shaded maritime hammock. Here you’ll see yaupon holly, live oaks, and red bay trees.
  • Bella Vista Trail at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park – This trail is less than half a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and Matanzas River. You’ll see live oaks, Southern magnolia, cabbage palms, and cherry laurel.
  • Pine Loop Trail at Faver-Dykes State Park – This trail is by the Matanzas River. You’ll see oak hammocks along Pellicer Creek and have the chance to see several types of birds.
  • Princess Place Preserve on Pellicer Creek
  • Stokes Landing Conservation Area along the Tolomato River north of St. Augustine – In this area, you’ll see views of the salt marshes along the Tolomato River. Two trails in this area are Marsh Point and Raccoon Run where you’ll see hickory, sweetgum, red bay, live oak, and scattered red cedars.

 

 

Go on a guided beach walk or hike

Photo credit: GTM Research Reserve

The GTM Research Reserve offers free guided beach walks and guided exploration hikes. Check out these options for exploring more of the nature around us:

  • Guided Exploration Hikes – Learn about the cultural history of the Guana Peninsula, as well as the natural biodiversity of the reserve, during a guided exploration hike. Find out about the peninsula’s 5,000 years of human history, including how native peoples used estuarine resources, what European plantation life was like and current efforts to learn about and save these resources.
  • Marineland Beach Walk – Learn about coquina rocks, dune flowers, sea birds, shells, the gopher tortoise, and more on this free guided hike in scenic Marineland.

 

 

Take an eco tour

Eco tours are a great way to see parts of the area in an interactive way. Ecotourism is defined by the International Ecotourism Society as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. Eco tours are quite popular in the St. Augustine area. They give nature enthusiasts the opportunity to be up close and personal with the unique wildlife and environment. Along these tours, you could see species such as manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, white ibis, and more. Many companies in the area offer boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding tours. We recommend

Many companies in the area offer boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding tours. We recommend Kayak St. Augustine, St. Augustine Eco Tours, Ripple Effect Ecotours, Action Kayak Adventures, and Lets Go Stand Up.

Natalie McElwee
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