At his eponymous studio, champion fighter Relson Gracie schools his students in Gracie jiujitsu, a martial-arts style honed by his great-uncle Carlos Gracie on Rio de Janeiro's rough-and-tumble streets. Relson and his team of instructors also incorporate moves from disciplines such as muay thai and MMA fundamentals into classes made for students of all skill levels and ages. Aside from mastering the physical techniques of martial arts, the instructors also opine on the benefits of mental discipline, self-respect, and camaraderie.
History is built into the very foundation of St. Augustine Amphitheatre. Built in 1965 to commemorate the city's quadricentennial, the stage immediately began featuring Cross and Sword, a historical drama about the founding of St. Augustine. It was a tradition that continued unbroken for 32 years. In 2002, St. Johns County funded a refurbishing of the amphitheater. Five years later—after upgrading the capacity, constructing a hikeable arboretum, and clearing out lingering conquistadors—the new facility is capable of comfortably hosting up to 4,100 concertgoers.
The red and black ship cuts through the waters of Matanzas Bay, its sails waving in the wind. On deck, members of a pirate crew call one another by names such as Oly Mackarel, Jaybird, Anastasia, Clipper, and Dirty James as they cavort between bow and stern, dazzling their audiences. Their ship, the Black Raven, was designed as a floating live performance theater—and accommodates more than 120 passengers as a crew of performers in full buccaneer dress produce interactive and dynamic plays in the spotlight. The actors work the crowd with a variety of rehearsed but unscripted skits, geared toward audiences of all ages, and may change their performance to engage specific audience members.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse has been keeping its luminous eye on the Atlantic’s endless horizon since 1874. In the 130 years since, the tower of Alabama brick and Philadelphia iron has served as the home of light keepers, a beacon to sailors, and a target of arson, eventually benefiting from a 15-year restoration project that commenced in 1980. Today, a staff of historians and protectors is eager to share the rich history of the nation's oldest port, not only through education and preservation but also by letting guests explore.
Visitors can scale the 165-foot, black-and-white lighthouse's 219 steps to the bright-red observation deck to catch breathtaking views of St. Augustine and spot gangs of dolphins making trouble by the shore. Lens-room tours allow up-close access to the regularly off-limits Fresnel lens, built in 1873, which weighs 2,000 pounds and shepherds ships with a light that radiates for 25 miles on a clear night. The clink of champagne glasses adds an element of glamour to Sunset Moonrise events, whereas Dark of the Moon tours let guests in after-hours to hear the tales of paranormal activity that earned the lighthouse a feature on Ghost Hunters.
A mountaintop gazebo rises above a labyrinth of emerald corridors, offering sweeping, ocean views to mini golfers who conquer Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf's course. The 18-hole circuit takes players past eight waterfalls, through shadowy caves, and around a 65-foot Spanish galleon that has been enjoying a golf-centric retirement since the Age of Imperialism. During the daytime, trees and rocky outcroppings block out the sun’s rays, which are supplanted by towering light fixtures after sunset to allow for nighttime play. Fiesta Falls’s concessions dishes out soft-serve ice cream, milk shakes, and other desserts to help guests ice their elbow after a particularly strenuous round.
Located just two miles from downtown St. Augustine, inside Anastasia State Park, Anastasia Watersports dispatches its nature-loving customers to the waters of a picturesque, three-mile tidal lagoon. Protected from the ocean by a line of sand dunes, the area, referred to as the Salt Run, offers gentle waves upon which patrons can hone their navigation skills in rented canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats. Alternatively, they can ride the area’s stiff sea breeze during windsurfing lessons provided by the shop’s qualified staffers. The waters brim with trout and flounder that fisherman can hook from their vessels, and birdwatchers can glimpse the marsh’s osprey, egrets, and herons as they soar skyward to nurture egg-shaped clouds.