In Northeast Florida, Ponte Vedra Beach is an affluent destination. It’s long been a popular spot for a weekend trip, or a long winter escape for those further north. The seaside community is flush with charming cottages and luxurious beachfront homes. Beyond the properties are beautiful beaches that run forever in either direction.
The high-end nature of the community isn’t just restricted to beaches and homes. It also features world-class golf courses, including the famous TPC Sawgrass. Among the best things to do in Ponte Vedra Beach, you’ll also indulge in appetizing dishes at top-notch restaurants and luxuriate at luxury spa complexes.
Not sure what to do in Ponte Vedra Beach? Find out everything you need to know with our Ponte Vedra Beach Guide.
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Things to do in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Ponte Vedra Beach
In between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach runs all the way down to the GTM Research Reserve. Many roads lead out of Jacksonville Beach. But the marshlands along the Intracoastal Waterway which cuts through Florida’s Northeast Coast grow rapidly in number. Most major roads head inland, leaving Ponte Vedra Beach to be a quieter seaside abode.
Backed by summer homes, some old-time cottages, and the odd beach club, the white sand beach has a quaint charm. Boardwalks lead you from the streets across the sand dunes onto the beach. From there, the sand runs for miles in either direction, giving you a blank canvas for your beach day.
The ocean waves roll in, providing you with some action to enjoy. On good days, you’ll find surfers up and early getting a session in before work. If you’re more of a boogie-boarder, the surf is inviting, offering enough thrill for young and old.
To stretch the legs, Ponte Vedra Beach is a lovely place for a long walk, and dogs are allowed on the beach as long as they remain leashed. Along the way admire the dunes that rise in front of rows of beautiful waterfront homes.
Home to the Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass is an exceptional course, one that’s on the bucket list of many everyday golfers. The course is also the base of the PGA Headquarters and along with the major annual event, you won’t be surprised that a round here is a high-end golfing experience.
TPC Sawgrass was established in 1980 and was the first of several Tournament Players Clubs. It comprises two courses, both designed by the renowned Pete Dye.
The first is the Valley Course; the second, the infamous Stadium Course. The latter hosts the major PGA event and features a stadium concept that involves the use of elevated grass mounds to provide fans with a better view. But the most iconic aspect of the course is the 137-yard 17th hole whose green is on an island!
The Stadium Course is known as one of the most difficult golf courses in the world. Much to the excitement of all golfers, the course is public and open throughout the year. It presents an opportunity to put your skills to the test in a beautiful environment.
After losing one too many balls on the 17th, commiserate at the clubhouse restaurant, Nineteen at TPC Sawgrass.
Mickler’s Landing Beach
The southern end of Ponte Vedra Beach is officially Mickler’s Landing Beach. Here, beachgoers will have greater access to facilities, while still enjoying the natural aura this section of the coast provides. It was the first public beach in Ponte Vedra Beach and is renowned for its pink coquina sand, made from crushed shells.
The popular beach has a decent-sized parking area. It usually has a spot during the week, however, the lot can fill up quickly on the weekends. Like many other spots along the Atlantic coast, a boardwalk will take you over the sand dunes which rise 20-feet above the ground.
Once you step onto the beguiling sand at Mickler’s Beach, you’ll see why it’s such a popular place for shelling. Those with a keen eye may be able to spot shark’s teeth, among other pristine shells, all along the beach. The best time to arrive for shelling is at low tide when you’ll enjoy the best exposure to the tiny mementos in the coquina sand.
Mickler’s Landing Beach comes with access to public bathroom facilities and outdoor showers. The boardwalk from the car park to the beach is also handicapped-accessible.
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Covering over 70,000 acres of coastal dunes, tidal lagoons, and vital nesting grounds, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is a unique experience. Travelers visiting the reserve will be able to explore the distinct ecosystems and witness the beauty of the world around Ponte Vedra Beach. But it’s just as much an educational experience that peels back the importance of this protected land.
The reserve was created in 1999 and is one of three of its kind in Florida. The reserve is vital to the local community as it provides flood and storm protection and helps improve water quality. But it’s the endangered marine life that relies on GTM Research Reserve the most, including the North Atlantic right whale and several sea turtles.
To begin your experience, start at the Environmental Education Center. As it’s primarily a research reserve, visitors will get an invaluable look at the stewardship activities undertaken by the reserve through a number of interactive displays.
Afterward, venture along the 10 miles of hiking trails through a multitude of ecosystems that include forests, creeks, dams, and marshlands. Admire the mass of distinct plant species and local wildlife, featuring over 350 species of birds.
Also within the reserve is a 15-foot statue of the famous explorer Ponce de Leon, the man credited with being the first European to make land in Florida.
The Spa at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
Sunbathing on the white sand of Ponte Vedra Beach isn’t the only way to seek tropical bliss. Another way to relax and wash all the stress away is to book an appointment at The Spa at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.
The spa is the largest in the region, covering over 30,000 square feet of tranquil space. It’s in the center of town, a block back from the beach along Ponte Vedra Blvd.
Upon entering the complex, you’ll be taken in by the nature-based decor that will have you feeling at ease before you’ve even seen a massage table.
The Spa at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club offers guests over 100 distinct experiences. This’ll allow you to decide which one works specifically for you.
Some of their most popular experiences include their massage, body, and aesthetics treatment. There are several massages on offer, from their signature 60-minute experience to treatments focused on maternity, sports injuries, and aromatherapy. Guests can even enjoy a Pink Himalayan Stone Massage.
Body treatments focus on revitalizing each part of the body with a body scrub to enliven the skin and full-spectrum CBD to stimulate your muscles. Those seeking facials and skin treatments can make use of the spa’s varied aesthetics program.
Bird Island Park
Seconds from Florida’s iconic A1A Highway is the modern and waterfront Bird Island Park. GTM Reserve may harbor the best wilderness in the area, but this park provides a lovely nature escape that is family-friendly and great for young kids.
Bird Island Park has a range of amenities that help make it one of the best things to do in Ponte Vedra Beach. Visitors will be able to bring along a loaded picnic basket, rugs, and games and kick back on the lush lawns. But just like the reserve, the park is a chance to learn about native flora and fauna but in a fun, interactive fashion.
Bird Island Park combines several landscapes from dunes to wetlands which you can explore on the nature paths. The path later turns to an elevated boardwalk that guides you around a beautiful pond. Along the way, the walkway heads across the water to a shaded gazebo in the center of the pond.
Continue on to find the thrilling sea turtle maze that will get your mind thinking and bring along a book to make use of the park’s storytelling area. As the name suggests, you’ll see plenty of birds here, but perhaps the most sightly aspect is the park’s array of public art.
Speaking of fun activities in town, complement your experience at Bird Island Park with a trip to The Yards. The sprawling sports complex takes the park day fun to another level with a wide range of activities to unleash your inner competitor.
The Yards is a country club that has taken on new life in recent years. It now features the first 12-hole golf course in North Florida, designed by Arnold Palmer himself. The course combines the features of the previous 9-hole course with the new Backyard course that offers guests some wildly fun par threes.
To go along with the golf course are a dozen pickleball courts that remain open at night, thanks to the mass of LED lights. The fast-growing sport combines the fun of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton into a game that will get your heart racing. There is also a top-notch tennis facility. However, it’s only open to private members.
Ultimately, The Yards is a social attraction. When it’s all said and done, competitors come together over a drink and a feed at 3 Palms Grille. Guests can enjoy elevated fare within the restaurant. But with Florida being Florida, kick back on the outdoor chairs and enjoy a drink in front of the bonfire.
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
After a series of evenings in Ponte Vedra Beach comprising bars and more bars, you may be up for something different. If that’s the case, check out the schedule for the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. With the line-up of live music, comedy, and cinema, guests can enjoy a dose of fantastic performing arts.
The concert hall is within a former Baptist Church. The renovation of the church in 2011 led to an innovative entertainment venue that can seat up to 450 people. You can also double that number if it’s a concert with standing room only. Importantly, a focus of the renovation was the venue’s acoustics. So guests can expect amazing clarity from wherever they’re stationed in the hall.
Every year, the Concert Hall hosts at least 140 events. Those in town will have multiple opportunities each week to enjoy a show.
With such a varied calendar, you’ll have your choice of renowned comedians one night and music legends the next. Given the quality of the artists, those traveling to Ponte Vedra Beach will want to check the schedule ahead of time, as many events sell out.
Where to eat & drink
Perched along the Atlantic Coast, there’s no shortage of beautiful places to enjoy a delicious meal in Ponte Vedra Beach. Visitors will find a wide range of cuisine within casual and high-end restaurants, many of which tap into the natural aura of the region.
Steps from TPC Sawgrass and overlooking an ornate pond, Pusser’s Bar & Grille serves up tropical cuisine with a view. The restaurant was named after a rum and comes with a waterfront patio and some of the tastiest fried shrimp tacos in town.
At Anejo Cocina Mexicana patrons can expect delectable Tex-Mex cuisine with generous portions. The same can be said for their fun cocktails, which may require two hands to handle.
On Front Street, Aqua Grill presents an award-winning menu with a focus on fresh ingredients, the best Maine lobster, and fish straight from Florida waters. It’s a highly rated fine dining establishment and a top choice for date night.
Even if you haven’t indulged in some sport, 3 Palms Grille is still a popular dining spot. They serve high-end pub grub with craft cocktails alongside their gorgeous patio.
Looking out across the Atlantic, Sawgrass Beach Club is the place to enjoy a drink and feed with a view. They offer a fantastic brunch menu with a wide range of entrees for lunch and dinner.
Nona Blue Modern Tavern has you covered for dinner and drinks. Enjoy high-end American cuisine, lots of beer on tap, and nightly drink specials.
Where to stay
Located just 10 minutes from the Atlantic shoreline, this budget-friendly hotel is a great choice to stay near this upscale without the high price tag. Amenities at the property include an outdoor pool, fitness center, and a free shuttle.
Sitting in the center of Sawgrass Village, the Hilton Garden Inn is a perfect spot for golfers and shoppers alike. When you aren’t hitting the links or out shopping, cool down in the outdoor pool or dine at one of the superb restaurants nearby.
A mere minutes from the ocean, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club delivers everything you need for an unforgettable Northeast Florida beach vacation. Practice your swing at one of the two on-site golf courses or indulge in a tasty meal at one of the seven on-site restaurants, including the elegant Seafoam Room or the beachside Surf Deck Grille. You’ll enjoy a set of other world-class amenities here, too, including 4 heated pools, 15 tennis courts, and several shops.