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Summer Vacation: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

On the East Coast of Florida, this sprawling resort offers an experience for everyone.

Written By:  Melissa Corbin

Photographers:  Supplied

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

To the Beach

The Timucua Indians lived in this corner of Florida long before Juan Ponce de Leon made his “discovery” and called it Pascua de Florida (Feast of Flowers). The mining industry discovered its minerals and renamed the area Mineral City. When Highway A1A was built in 1928, connecting the area with St. Augustine, villagers felt their town needed a flashier name: Ponte Vedra (Spanish for “ancient bridge”) has been called that ever since.

Standing the test of time, Ponte Vedra Beach is a town completely built upon resort living. This year, in fact, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club celebrates its 90th birthday. From a “Studio-28” disco party to a Diamond and Emerald Spa treatment, the $90K Celebration Package also includes unlimited Dom Perignon, private jet transport, and a helicopter tour.

But, if you’re not into the all-inclusive and a little more interested in a la carte, an array of amenities with reciprocal access from both properties can be customized to fit any visit—as long as it starts with a long exhale.

The beach is the only one in Florida with remaining sea walks, due to the state’s protection and preservation laws of natural sand dunes. Rent a bike and pedal along its sunny beach or palm-shaded lanes of this unincorporated village. There are also four pools on property, from the kiddie slide to the adult-only swim.

When it comes to perfecting your swing, the Ocean and Lagoon Courses are considered East Coast golf pilgrimages. And, rated “one of the top adult tennis camps in the nation” by Tennis magazine, the resort’s tennis programs also offer opportunities to polish up that racquet swing. Whatever your game, the 30,000-square-foot spa offers more than 100 services, including the newest additions, cryo and compression therapies to help ease any tensions you pick up along the way.

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Opened in 1938, The Inn and Club now offers 217 guest rooms and 32 suites. Each space is different, with breath-taking views of the ocean or the golf course, and all put relaxation top of mind, with creature comforts, such as luxurious bedding and soaking tubs. In the main inn, the world’s largest Karastan rug graces the original Magnolia plank floors in the Great Lounge. Ask for a walk through History Hall with resident historian Fred Cosby before a highball or two at The Tavern. If shopping is more your speed, check out The Gallery of Shops, where Florida-made treats, like made-from-scratch pop tarts, are a thing inside The Gourmet Shop.

A little more than a mile up the road, The Lodge & Club, a boutique hotel that came along in 1989, presents panoramic vistas in its 66 rooms and suites. Each oceanfront room is dressed in hues from the sea and beckons quality Zen time with private balconies and fireplaces.

To fuel up during your stay, indulge at one of seven onsite restaurants, many of which focus on providing sustainable Florida coastal cuisine. Enjoy the Mayport salad at the Golf Club Restaurant, overlooking the famous par-three “island” golf hole. For something more upscale, reserve a spot at The Surf Club Patio.

The Seahorse Grille, meanwhile, invites those looking for something exclusive the option of a 10-course tasting with chef de cuisine Erik Osol at the chef’s table, which is set right in the middle of his kitchen. Over at The Lodge & Club, The Sea View Grille lives up to its name for beach- and stargazers who might also be clamoring for coastal fare, like Florida grouper or fresh-water favorites, such as St. John’s River blackened catfish.

When you need a break from resort life, venture 30 minutes down the A1A toward St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. St. Augustine Distillery is the historic ice plant’s newest resident—you’ll find daily tours and tastings of the small-batch spirits sourced with local and regional ingredients. Try the New World Gin, featuring citrus notes from the Sunshine State. Or scoot next door to the Ice Plant Bar for lunch or dinner paired with craft cocktails.

How to Get There

Road warriors can take the nine-hour drive down to the Florida coast. Nonstop flights in and out of Jacksonville are also available on Southwest.

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