Florida Secret: St. Augustine
I’ve lived in Florida all my life. St. Augustine is a must see for anyone coming to Florida. I am now a resident of the city and could not be happier. I blog about the best places to visit on a regular bases here.
St. Augustine is the U.S.’s oldest city (yes, even older than Jamestown). It was founded by the Spanish in 1565 by Pedro Mendendez. It was the playground for the rich during the 1800s and included the likes of Henry Flagler, Mark Twain and Marjorie Kinnen Rawlings. Today its a bustling town known for its many historic attractions. Here’s just a few.
This fort was built in the late 1600s and was used all the way up until the 20th century by the U.S. Military. The Seminole war chief, Osceola and Apaches were held here for a time. Its the oldest masonary fort in the U.S. They have costumed interpreters here reguarly. I totally dig this place, but my kids got kind of bored of it afterawhile. I was dissapointed that they did. There were plenty of other kids there who liked it, though. My feeling is that it may not be much of a girl thing (I have two daughters). This place can get pretty busy. Students from all over Florida visit it throughout the school year. My wife got tired of all the kids (I didn’t mind so much, though).
This is the main drag through the downtown historic district. It has all kinds of shops, museums, restaurants, etc. My family checked out the oldest school house and got some awesome pretzels at Der Pretzel Haus. Whats even cooler about this place is that just a few blocks down from this historic walk is my family’s new house. Man, life doesn’t get much better than that. I’ll be sure to write more about this street when I get more of a chance to explore it.
This has a special place in my heart because my wife is the Education coordinator here. This place has some of the most gorgeous grounds I’ve seen with canopy oaks and old brick buildings. I didn’t get to go up in the lighthouse because my youngest is to short to go up, but my oldest did. she thought it was pretty cool! They also have some cool exhibits and the lightkeeper’s house is just a really cool building. This museum is also the home of LAMP–Northeast Florida’s archaology maritime program. The director there is a friend of mine.
I suppose this is not really unique to St. Augustine (there’s one in Orlando), but its still a pretty cool place to go and see some really odd stuff (shrunken heads anyone?). My youngest got kind of freaked out at some of the scarier type exhibits, but overall we had fun. Its also a good place to get inside if its too hot or if the weather is bad. It was raining most of the time during our visit, so this was a good place to go. You can spend about an hour or two here–more if you want to look at every object Mr. Ripley collected. The building is really beautiful. It was built in the 1880s by William Warren, a partner in Standard Oil. It was later a hotel owned by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. There are many reports of it being haunted.
We went to several restaurants during our mini-vacation. This one stood out. Its right off of A1A just before you get to St. Augustine. They have tiki huts and a little live alligator exhibit. A Motel is attached to the restaurant. The food is excellent. My wife and I had their Shrimp and Smoked Bacon Cheese Grits. Delicious! We will defintely be going back to this place when we live in St. Augustine.