Anastasia State Park Campground, maritime hammock, An Insider's Guide to St. Augustine
The campground located within a maritime hammock.

Get Outside – February


The First Coast has one of the most robust park systems you’ll find in the country. Because our weather is excellent year round, there’s always an outdoor activity within a drive of an hour or less. This month, we encourage you to Get Outside at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Natural Estuarine Research Reserve. The GTM Research Reserve encompasses two aquatic preserves, a national park, two county parks, two state parks, two state forests, three conservation areas and a wildlife management area, on 73,000 acres from Ponte Vedra to Palm Coast. Habitats include coastal scrub, beaches, mangrove estuary, freshwater marsh, maritime hammock and pine flatwoods. GTM reserve has lots of opportunities to explore the outdoors, whether it be a simple visit to the park or one of their activities. We’ve gathered together their activities on Saturdays for the next month, though you can check their website for outdoor sessions during the week at

PowerPoint PresentationGuided Exploration Hike

February 6 & March 6th at, 8:30am – 10:30am

On the first Saturday of every month from 8:30 to 10:30am, visitors can learn about the cultural history of the Guana Peninsula as well as the natural biodiversity during a guided hike. Find out about the peninsula’s 5,000 years of human history, including how native peoples used estuarine resources, what European plantation life was like, and current efforts to learn about and save these resources. Meet at the GTM Research Reserve’s Trailhead Pavilion located west of the Guana Dam. Wear comfortable closed toe shoes. There is a $3 per vehicle parking fee. For more information, call 904.823.4500 or go to to reserve a spot on the events calendar.

Family Seining

February 13 & 27 at  8:30am – 10:30am

Join GTM Research Reserve staff and/or volunteers for a guided family seining activity. Visitors will get the chance to pull a seine net through Guana Lake, collecting species of fish, crabs and more, and then learn about the animals and their roles in the habitat. All necessary gear including waders and boots will be provided.There is a $3 per vehicle parking fee. For more information, call 904.823.4500 or go to to reserve a spot on the events calendar.

GTM-tourGuided Beach Exploration

February 20, 8:30am – 10:30am

Join GTM Research Reserve guides for a beach walk at the Guana South beach location. Learn about the animals that call the beach their home as well as seashells and other interesting facts. This is a Beaches 101 experience that the entire family will enjoy. Park at the GTM Research Reserve South Beach Access Lot, 1798 Ponte Vedra Blvd (A1A), Ponte Vedra, FL 32082. There is a $3/per vehicle parking fee. For more information, call 904.823.4500 or go to to reserve a spot on the events calendar.

If you are a little more free-wheeling and don’t want to be tied down to a specific activity, there are three places in the park you might want to start: The Environmental Education Center (Hours 9am-4 pm, closed on holidays) $2 for Adults, $1 for kids, Free for kids under 10, The Trailhead & Beach Lots $3 per car load, and the Guana Dam $3 per car load. See their website for detailed directions to each at


–The dunes are some of the highest in Florida (35–40ft).  

–The coastal waters of Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve are important calving grounds for the endangered Northern right whale.  

–Princess Place Preserve has Florida’s oldest commercial orange groves (early 1800’s). The site contains one of Florida’s first in-ground pools.  

–Matanzas Inlet, at Fort Matanzas National Monument, was the scene of crucial events in Spanish colonial history. The defeat of French soldiers here in 1565 initiated Spain’s establishment of its first permanent colony in Florida. The construction of Fort Matanzas in 1740 – 42 was Spain’s attempt to stop British encroachments.  

–The saltmarsh located just within GTM Research Reserve boundaries provide storm and flood protection (disturbance regulation). This ecosystem service alone is estimated to be worth ~ $19.4 million per year (based on 2008 US dollar; Costanza et al 2008).



10th Annual First Coast Air Potato Roundup

Saturday, Feb. 27, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Grab your garden gloves and head over to one of the many sites to help remove this invasive species. We will be at Hanna Park and Howell Park (on the corner of Palm Ave. & Magnolia St. in Atlantic Beach). Click here for more info.

National Park Service

3rd Annual Timucuan Preserve Air Potato Roundup

Saturday, Feb. 13, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Help the Timucuan Preserve stop the spread of the invasive air potato. Meet at the preserve HQ at 13165 Mt. Pleasant Rd. Click here for more info.

Kingsley Plantation Heritage Celebration    

Saturday, Feb. 20 and 27

On 2/20/16: African Caribbean Dance Theater (1 p.m.), Mama Koku’s Storytelling (2 p.m.), and Kid’s Corner Crafts and Activities.

On 2/27/16: Living history stations representing the history of Fort George Island from the 1500s through the Jazz Age (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). FREE and open to the public. 11676 Palmetto Ave. Clickhere for more info.

Florida State Parks   

Nature Photography

Big Talbot Island State Park

Saturday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m.

Join a photographer and nature enthusiast for a leisurely stroll on the Shoreline Trail and learn techniques to help capture the beauty of the maritime forest and driftwood of Boneyard Beach. This program will start at the Bluffs parking area. Program is free with $3 park entrance fee.State Rd A1A N.

Nature Hike

Fort George Island Cultural State Park

Saturday, Feb. 6 at 2 p.m.

Join a Park Ranger for a leisurely paced hike to discover the island’s natural communities. Bring insect repellent and bottled water. Free at the Ribault Club on Fort George Island Cultural State Park. 11241 Fort George Rd.

North Atlantic Right Whales

Fort George Island Cultural State Park

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m.

North Atlantic right whales visit Northeast Florida waters to give birth to calves December through March. Join a ranger to learn about one of the world’s most endangered large mammals. Free at the Ribault Club, 11241 Fort George Rd.

Camping in Your State Park

Little Talbot Island State Park

Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.

Learn about the incredible wildlife, serene landscapes and once-in-a-lifetime outdoor experiences that all 174 of Florida’s State Parks have to offer. Meet at the multi-use trail pavilion at the south beach area on Little Talbot Island. Free with regular park admission. 12157 Heckscher Dr.

Turtles of Talbot

Fort George Island Cultural State Park

Saturday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m.

Join a ranger for an engaging program about the different species of turtles that call the Talbot Islands their home. Free at the Ribault Club, 11241 Fort George Rd.