Although its name fits its history of being the first stretch of Florida Coastal Regions to be colonized by Europeans, Florida's First Coast wasn't named until 1983 when it became the subject of a campaign to separate Jacksonville from South Georgia. Developed by the William Cook Advertising Agency for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the moniker was introduced at the 1983 Florida Gator Bowl and is now synonymous with the cities on the extreme northeast area of Florida, including Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine, Palm Coast and Jacksonville Beach.
Indeed, "First Coast" would certainly describe the shores of St. Augustine, for this city is the oldest in the continental U.S. When Pedro Men√©ndez de Avil√©s officially founded St. Augustine in 1565, the area had already been discovered 52 years earlier by Juan Ponce de Le√≥n. Visitors can enthrall themselves in the city's history by walking down its ancient streets or visiting Castillo de San Marcos, the pentagon-shaped bastion that was built by the Spanish in 1672 and is the only existing 17th century fort in North America.
Known as the "Isle of 8 Flags," Fernandina Beach is situated off the coast of Jacksonville, on Amelia Island. Named for King Ferdinand VII of Spain, this stretch of shoreline has the distinction of being the only municipality in the continental U.S. that has been possessed by eight different nations since its founding in 1562. This historic area is also home to Fort Clinch State Park, where visitors can observe Civil War reenactments on the first weekend of every month at the park's 19th century brick fortress.
Acquired by the United States from Spain in 1821, the area along Florida's northeast coast was platted in 1822 and named Jacksonville, in honor of Andrew Jackson, Florida's first military governor and the seventh President of the United States. Located 25 miles south of the Georgia State line, Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. mainland and the location of the country's 3rd largest Naval installation. Visitors to the area have many recreational opportunities, including sunbathing at the Jacksonville Beaches, golfing at the PGA headquarters in Ponte Vedra, kayaking or hiking around Fort George Island or sightseeing along the Jacksonville Riverwalk.
Full of historic sites, Florida's First Coast offers a fine mix of the old and the new, and visitors to this area can take a rare glimpse of the 17th century while simultaneously enjoying one of the finest vacation experiences Florida has to offer.