The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach houses free art exhibitions, lectures, and events for the edification of the local public, and membership in its hallowed halls allows a household reduced prices on classes, retail discounts, and invitations to openings and events. Seven-week classes and one-time workshops for kids (member prices $72–$120) and adults (member prices $65–$260) instruct the artistically inclined in electives such as acrylic and oil painting, watercolor, and digital imaging. For those who prefer to work in a fleshier medium, yoga and dance classes whittle muscles into works of art worthy of permanently encasing in glass or spandex.
Ancient City Tours offers edifying expeditions throughout the region for mavens of the historical and paranormal. In the A Ghostly Encounter tour, specter-specialists slink through the shadowy nighttime passageways of St. Augustine, leading wide-eyed fans of phantasmagoria through the Spanish Military Hospital Museum, then on to the fog-pitched panoramas of historical cemeteries. A Paranormal Investigation takes apparition activists through various bedeviled sites, ending at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum, certified by the Northeast Florida Paranormal Association as a place where ghosts are active, though sedentary and preoccupied with historical trivia contests. At the hospital, Ancient City's ghastly ghoul-guides direct patrons of the paranormal into haunted private rooms, accompanied by a digital recorder to document void-crossing encounters.
Holiday Art Shows gathers together a wide array of contemporary and traditional artwork for arts and crafts fairs held in Lexington, Kentucky; Wilmington, North Carolina; and St. Augustine, Florida. Visitors can shop for paintings, photography, and sculptures to decorate their homes or drape themselves in handmade jewelry and fiber art. A knowledgeable jury reviews each artist's offerings to ensure a high-quality selection.
A not-for-profit initiative of the World Golf Foundation, The World Golf Hall of Fame pays homage to golf's most prolific players with a vast collection of historic artifacts and interactive exhibits. Audio tours narrate the intricacies of more than 175 points of interest, including a life-size replica of the Swilcan Bridge that highlights an exhibit honoring the sport's origins as an ancient Scottish frisbee game. A trip through golf's evolving history culminates in a Trophy Room at the pinnacle of a 110-foot tower, which provides rare glimpses at championship crowns and cups from tournaments such as the Ryder Cup. Outdoors, an 18-hole, natural-grass putting green invites visitors to test their swing in the shadow of golf's finest, complete with a challenge hole that mimics the famous 17th hole at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass and awards shots that land on the green with a special limited edition Induction Ceremony print. In its ongoing quest to treat guests to an immersive, larger-than-life experience, The World Golf Hall of Fame is also home to a six-story-tall IMAX screen that inundates the senses with digital surround sound and 3-D displays of full-length and documentary-style films.
Opened in 1959, Daytona International Speedway delights die-hard racing fans with high-octane races throughout the year, including the sport's most heralded race, the DAYTONA 500. Fans will enjoy an intimate view of stock-car drivers zooming down the track at 180 mph while checking rearview mirrors to see if their mustaches are evenly trimmed. The Rolex 24 pits racers against one another in a grueling, 24-hour contest of endurance, and the Budweiser Shootout hosts NASCAR Sprint Cup Stars in a nonpoints race where the driver who finishes in last place must push himself home in a wheelbarrow. After watching a favorite racer zoom by, fans can use their Daytona dollars to pick up a snack at any of the concessions or the Fourth Turn Grill Restaurant. Today's Groupon also includes the Sprint FANZONE and prerace pit pass for the Budweiser Shootout, which grants access to the prerace area, where fans can drop by a driver's Q & A session, discreetly peek into the garages, and sign the start/finish line. Parents and speed-craving babysitters can tote children 12 and younger into the prerace zones for free, granting them a lifelong affinity for burnt rubber and flame-retardant clothing.
The St. Johns River, edged with tall trees, teems with wildlife year round; gators and visiting winter manatees swim beneath its surface while herons and cranes stoically stalk their fishy prey above. Thanks to Blue Heron River Tours, you can get an up-close glimpse of these sights in the company of a pontoon boat named Great Blue and coast-guard-certified captains named Gary Randlett and Todd Hilton. Tours glide past a manatee refuge at Blue Spring State Park before entering an old cypress-logging canal that leads into the Hontoon Dead River. Along the way, the captains fill the air with an interactive narrative on river history, flora and fauna, and humans' impact on the area, giving plenty of opportunities for photo ops and hard-hitting interviews with local eagles.
In addition to a 10-acre hiking trail and one-arce swimming lake, Dog Wood Park offers a 25-acre enclosed field that lets pooches free to shirk their leashes and gambol with other dogs. Here, a sand pit invites unchecked digging, trees offer ample shade, and two swimming ponds help canines cool off. Though the atmosphere is playful, the park does have a few rules to maintain a safe space for dogs, owners, and mailmen. Male dogs must be neutered, for instance, and all owners must show proof of their pooch’s rabies vaccination. To ensure clean coats and picturesque scenery, bag stations, trash cans, and bathing stations abound.