I used to live in Ponte Vedra; oceanfront, no less. Way back when, my father moved the whole famdamnly to where he’d spent blissful years, growing up in Palm Valley. By the time he could afford to return to the paradise of his youth, it was totally different.
Gone were the families who made their living off the fertile land in northern St. Johns County. Gone were the tourists from the cold North and season-long visitors who summered here. Huge houses — not yet called McMansions, but you get the idea — strung along A1A, where neighbors did not comingle with neighbors and no one worked the soil, except to plow it up to make way for golf courses as far as the eye could see.
We were assured the silver sand beaches would still be open to us all, resident or come-here. Fast-forward to the 21st century. When’s the last time you were able to park your car, stroll across the dunes and relax on the shores of Ponte Vedra Beach? I can’t recall, either. Park in the lots of Mickler’s or Guana Reserve at your own peril; park anywhere else near A1A and you’ll be towed or ticketed or both, despite the tiny signs that indicate it’s a public beach access.
If you play the sport of kings or want to dine at a very fine restaurant, Ponte Vedra is the place for you. (And for the rest of you, the acoustically excellent Ponte Vedra Concert Hall frequently offers shows well worth the drive.) If you want to live a simple, easy life, fishing from your back porch, Palm Valley’s your spot. (Also worth the trip: The crazy-common juxtaposition along Roscoe Boulevard of million-dollar mansions abutting shacks owned by folks who just refuse to sell.) How can you tell the difference? Look for plastic flamingos in the yard.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Aqua Grill (950 Sawgrass Village Drive)
JJ’s Liberty Bistro (330 A1A N.)
Palm Valley Fish Camp (29 N. Roscoe Blvd.)
Restaurant Medure (818 A1A N.)
Alice & Pete’s Pub (1000 PGA Tour Blvd., Sawgrass Marriott)
Barbara Jean’s (15 S. Roscoe Blvd.)
Lulu’s Waterfront Grille (301 N. Roscoe Blvd.)
Pussers Bar & Grille (816 A1A N.)
Table 1 (330 A1A N.)
Bluetique Goodwill (832 A1A N., Ste. 2)
Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel (2 Fairfield Blvd.)
Hot Mama’s Boutique (1560 Sawgrass Village Drive)
Underwood’s Jewelers (330 A1A N.)
First Coast YMCA (170 Landrum Lane)
Palm Valley Golf Club (1075 Palm Valley Road)
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall (1050 A1A N.)
Sawgrass Country Club (10034 Golf Club Drive)
TPC Sawgrass (100 Championship Way)
Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach (50 Executive Way)
Fairfax Gallery (1740 Sawgrass Village)
Stellers Gallery (240 A1A N.)