In Town for The Players? 5 Things to Do Off the Golf Course

The Players Championship is a fabulous all-inclusive event for families, but since you are in the Jacksonville Beach/Ponte Vedra area, you should probably check out all that these North Florida beach towns have to offer. The attractions are endless, but there are a few must-dos that will help you get an idea of the unique seaside culture and activities in North Florida. When you come off the course, don’t hole up in your hotel. Instead, explore and discover! Start with these five:

1. Relax in the Sun or Hunt for Shark Teeth on Ponte Vedra Beach

South Florida doesn’t hold a candle to the beautiful Appalachian quartz and ancient coquina sand on Ponte Vedra Beach. Ponte Vedra Beach is quieter than the beaches directly to the North, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. If you’re looking to people watch and collide with other families, these two may be more your scene. Ponte Vedra Beach however, enjoys a more peaceful and luxury-seeking crowd. Have a relaxing day with the kids hunting for shark teeth, which are easier to find here than on any of the other surrounding beaches; build castles with sand that is truly meant for building a solid fortress. The sand is easy to manipulate and hard-pack. Or, you might even try building a classic “drip castle”. Each beach in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra has different characteristics, but the variety provides a lot to explore. You can rent beach cruisers and bike directly on the beach or cozy up to the soft areas by the dunes (the highest dunes in Florida). But be careful not to tromp in them or take any souvenirs directly from the dunes, these dunes are protected! They happen to protect the beautiful beach homes and resorts that line the beaches. Observing the unique North Florida beach homes from the beachside is the only way to see the front of the homes and appreciate their unique architecture.

2. Party with the Locals and Chow Down on Tacos at Taco Lu

Okay, so TacoLu is really more about tequila than tacos, but they are masters of both. The tequila menu however, is extensive and broken down into it’s own detailed encyclopedia so you know exactly what you are getting into. The cocktails are amazing and the tacos are stuffed with unique ingredients likes: brie and grape salsa (i know it sounds crazy, but I highly recommend it), cheeseburger, slow cooked brisket, and tempeh for vegetarians. They even have gluten-free options! They have all the classics too, but you’re on vacation - take a walk on the wild side! Tacolu is also all about the atmosphere. You will see a lot of the beach locals: think man buns, puka necklaces, tank tops, flip flops, and well worn tans. And, you might even see the ghost of Alpha Paynter, the owner of the restaurant that previously inhabited Tacolu’s building, called The Old Homestead. Local legend has it, she still visits from time to time, probably on Taco Tuesdays!.

3. Grab Lunch to Go at Deli Comb & Have a Picnic at Bird Island Park

Before you head out to a gorgeous native Florida habitat that is Bird Island, pick up some healthy and gourmet style grub at Deli Comb. It’s the perfect pairing for the scenic bird watching trail at Bird Island. Deli Comb is known for it’s fabulous kimchi, so if you feel like trying something new, add it to your sandwich or wrap! Bird Island is a stop along the way for many migratory birds. They stop at the bird island rookery and relish in the native flora and fauna while taking a dip in the surrounding pond that lines the two trails. The park is located on the south side of the Ponte Vedra public library. One of the trails is a boardwalk trail directly over the water that culminates into a gazebo, a perfect spot for a peaceful family picnic.

4. Rent Beach Cruisers at Neptune Beach & Explore the Beach Bars and Outdoor Patios

Neptune Beach is the place to go if you are looking for a fun and touristy beach village, complete with shops, parties, music, events, and a fabulous blend of fine and casual seaside dining. There are bars like The Lemon Bar where you can sink your toes directly in the sand, gaze at the ocean, and sip on their signature Lemon Bar Freeze or just a classic Piña Colada. It’s right on the beach, so feel free to rent a beach cruiser and go for a ride afterward. You can also bike your way up to Poe’s Tavern for a delicious burger and outdoor comradery at this local mainstay with a large shaded patio.

5. Bring Your Fishing Pole & Walk to the end of the pier in Jacksonville Beach

Just remember it’s worth the $1. The money they collect from you to walk out on the Jacksonville Beach Pier is used to maintain the dock and it’s totally worth it. The view is fantastic and the journey to the end of the pier is the only way to truly take in the fishing culture of North Florida. The crusty fisherman, the pesky pelicans and the salty air will make you want to stick around and fish all day while watching the toddling toddlers build sand castles on the beach and the surfers avoid the sharks while wading through the big ocean swells. You will likely catch a glimpse of a shark, tarpon, a dolphin or some other signature Florida ocean wildlife, as the pier tends to attract the biggest and the best!