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And Have Fun Doing It!
By Kara Pound
Photos courtesy of the St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department, Gary Leveille, and Kate Gardiner
Children’s laughter floats through the air; the crack of a bat and cheers erupt joyously; “Love — 30” is heard right before the woosh of a blistering serve; the rhythmic, steady breathing of a runner passing by; the competitive shouts of “I’m open! Here!” during an intense pick-up basketball game; the screech of skateboard wheels on concrete as a boarder puts the tail down for a quick ollie; the splash of fish and turtles swimming around in the nearby pond…and more laughter from delighted children as they watch them…
All these sounds of people getting out and enjoying the great outdoors…and that’s all just at ONE park maintained and operated by the St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Park. Treaty Park, located just off Wildwood Drive, might be one of the most recognizable areas under the Parks and Rec domain, but it’s hardly representative of the ONLY park that our county facilities have to offer. Most of our residents would be surprised to know that many of the open areas we currently enjoy fall under the purview of this far-reaching and extremely active part of our local government.
From Ponte Vedra Beach down to Marineland, over to Hastings and up to Fruit Cove, St. Johns County’s Parks and Recreation Department offers up a wide range of facilities. From neighborhood playgrounds that encourage exploration, to canine-centric dog parks, basketball courts and covered pavilions on our beautiful waterways, kayak and boat launches, an entire arena capable of hosting rodeos and festivals, even horseshoe pits — there’s so much more than just “playgrounds and baseball fields”. With dozens of diverse parks across the county, there are literally hundreds of reasons to pack a picnic, grab a basketball or Frisbee and make your next weekend outing one to visit our beautiful parks system. And the best thing is… admission to all is free. A disclaimer though — some of the covered pavilions have a rental fee and the ball fields must be reserved, so if you’re thinking about hosting a tournament, you’ll want to contact the office well in advance.
The word “facility” has a broad meaning, which is the reason there are so many. By definition, it is a place, amenity or piece of equipment provided for a particular purpose. That meaning alone makes it easier to understand the scope of the departments reach. For Teddy Meyer, Facility Manager for Parks and Recreation, creating and maintaining county facilities means a better quality of life for our residents.
“Offering outdoor public places for recreation is essential to every age, and the ability to provide that at a high level is the goal of our department,” Meyer explains. “One of my ambitions is to help people in our community understand the diversity of our parks. People living in certain areas of our county aren’t necessarily making the trip to visit parks that are farther away than their neighborhood. I’d like to help change that.”
Change is good. Go out and experience it today.
Covered Pavilion Rentals
From family reunions to children’s birthday parties — renting one of the dozens of covered pavilions offered up by St. Johns County Parks and Recreation is a cost-effective way to gather family and friends together amidst our area’s natural beauty. Here are just a few of the beach and park pavilions available in and around St. Augustine:
Alpine Groves Pavilion – 2060 SR 13, St. Johns
Armstrong Park Pavilion – 4974 Harvey Ave., Elkton
Butler Park West Pavilion – 399 Riverside Blvd., St. Augustine
Canopy Shores Park Pavilion – 804 Christina Dr., St. Augustine
Collier-Blocker-Puryear Park Pavilion – 10 North Holmes Blvd., St. Augustine
Frank B. Butler County Park – 2 miles south of St. Augustine Beach at Minnie Street, St. Augustine
Crescent Beach Pavilion – 6930 A1A South, St. Augustine
Nocatee Community Park Pavilion – 707 Nocatee Center Way, Ponte Vedra
North Beach Pavilion – 3721 Coastal Highway, St. Augustine
Palencia Park Pavilion – 649 Palencia Club Dr., St. Augustine
South Ponte Vedra Recreation Area – 2.25 miles south of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve on A1a.
St. Johns County Pier Pavilion – 350 A1A Beach Blvd., St. Augustine
Surf Side Park – 11 Surfside Ave., Vilano Beach
Treaty Park Pavilion – 1595 Wildwood Dr., St. Augustine
Trout Creek Pavilion – 6795 Collier Rd., St. Augustine
Vaill Point Park Pavilion – 630 Vaill Point Rd., St. Augustine
Vilano Beach Pavilion – 20 Vilano Rd., St. Augustine
Windswept Acres Park Pavilion – 210 Mickler Rd., St. Augustine
For more information regarding beach and park pavilions or to make a reservation, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Johns County Fairgrounds
Encompassing more than 90 acres of land surrounded by a beautiful forestlined boundary, the St. Johns County Fairgrounds boasts a number of modern facilities including a covered arena, exhibit halls, meeting rooms, campsites and vendor locations. Located just a short distance from historic St. Augustine, the Fairgrounds hosts a variety of activities throughout the year such as the Florida Tiny House Festival and The Flying G Rodeo as well as smaller scale private and public events. The Fairgrounds is also a great spot for disc golf enthusiasts with a 25-hole course as well as the locale for the brand new St. Johns County Horseshoe League. For more information about the Fairgrounds, please contact T.J. Jackson at (904) 209-0332 or tjjackson@sjcfl. us. For information about the new horseshoe league, please contact AyoLane Halusky at (904) 209-0348 or email@example.com.
Dubbed the “fastest growing sport in America,” pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong for a paddle sport that’s taken over St. Johns County. On any given Saturday morning, Treaty Park’s eight pickleball courts are teeming with players and onlookers to watch high-energy doubles games. Want to play pickleball? Parks and Recreation Department offers up pickleball courts with two locations in St. Augustine at Treaty Park, 1595 Wildwood Drive, and Ron Parker Park, 607 Old Beach Road.
With 28,000-square-feet of concrete, Robert-Laryn Skate Park located within Treaty Park on Wildwood Drive offers up plenty of room for skateboarders of all ages and abilities. The facility, which opens at sunrise and closes at 10pm, seven days a week, features half pipes, rails, ledges, banks and a nineand- a-half-foot kidney shaped pool to challenge even the most experienced skater. Are you new to skating or looking to get your little one into the sport? Check out Roberty-Laryn Skate Park’s Little Dudes Park for beginning skaters and those under the age of 12. Other county facilities for skateboarders include Veterans Park Skate Park (1332 Veterans Parkway, St. Johns) and Deleon Shores Park (9 Dolphin Blvd. E., Ponte Vedra).
Did you know that St. Johns County has nearly a dozen dog parks in its parks system? One of the most popular is Paws Dog Park located within Davis Park in Ponte Vedra Beach. Featuring a playground for all of our canine friends to enjoy, Paws Dog Park has two large fenced in areas with a pond and obstacles for your pet to play on as well as a dog wash area. Other local dog parks open to St. Johns County residents include Veterans Park’s three-acre playground (1332 Veterans Pkwy, St Johns, FL 32259), Ron Parker Park (607 Old Beach Rd., St. Augustine), Treaty Park (1595 Wildwood Dr., St. Augustine), Joe Pomar Park (1600 Masters Dr., St. Augustine), Deleon Shores Park (9 Dolphin Blvd. E., Ponte Vedra) and Nocatee Community Park (707 Nocatee Center Way, Ponte Vedra).