Step Back in Time in St. Augustine
The nation’s oldest continuously occupied settlement is a popular getaway for weekend trips, weddings, anniversaries and family vacations.
Just 140 miles from Melbourne is the quaint historic town of St. Augustine. Time seems to slow down and history comes alive. Enjoy the history, beaches, arts, culture, shopping, and more.
Where to Stay:
The Casa Monica Hotel at 95 Cordova Street is the perfect spot in the middle of everything. The city’s only AAA Four Diamond hotel resembles a Spanish castle with rich décor, luxurious accommodations and concierge service to attend to every need. The hotel’s celebrated 95 Cordova restaurant features New World, Middle Eastern and Asian flavors. A more casual outdoor café offers a more relaxed atmosphere. Take a day to lounge by the pool in a cabana and take advantage of privileges at Serenata Beach Club. The Casa Monica Hotel is located at 95 Cordova Street, www.casamonica.com
What to do:
Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth at the National Archeological Park provides an introduction to the city’s Native American and Spanish’s heritage. $9 adults, $5 children. www.fountainofyouthflorida.com
Next, visit the Castillo de San Marcos- the oldest remaining European fort in the continental U.S. Call ahead to catch a cannon firing demonstration. $6 adults, children are free. www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm
If you’re looking for lots of history for your buck, take the Old Town Trolley Tour which covers more than 100 sights and makes 22 stops, if you decide to explore farther. $23 adults, $10 children. www.trolleytours.com
In 1887 Henry Flagler built a piece of Spanish Renaissance architecture, the Ponce de Leon Hotel, now Flagler College. Today, guided tours offer a glimpse into an over-the-top era. $7 adults, children are free. http://legacy.flagler.edu/Tours-sp8.html
Anastasia Park is a great place for bird watching and just one and a half miles from downtown St. Augustine off State Scenic Highway A1A (Anastasia Blvd.); it’s just a short trip. The park features five miles of beach bordered by sand dunes, and a lagoon bordered by tidal marshes. Soak up the sun; grab a snack from the concession stand or picnic in the park. $8 per vehicle, 2-8 people per vehicle. www.floridastateparks.org/Anastasia
Climb the steps of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and enjoy a breathtaking view. Make sure you visit the museum and gift shop.
Call for rates (904) 829-0745. www.staugustinelighthouse.org
See albino alligators, a Komodo dragon exhibit and wading bird rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. You can also check out an alligator feeding to witness the amazing strength of Florida’s most dangerous animals.
$21.95 adults, $10.95 children.
Arts and culture
Lightner Museum, formerly Hotel Alcazar, offers three levels of elegant displays that showcase Victorian-era costumes, furnishings, musical instruments, art glass and other treasures harkening back to the high life of the 19th century. 75 King Street www.lightnermuseum.org
The first Friday of each month, St. Augustine becomes a festival of art. Serious collectors and casual browsers are all welcome, among the city’s brick-lined streets. There’s also live entertainment. If you can’t make it on a Friday, maps for self-guided tours are available at participating galleries or can be downloaded at www.artgalleriesofstaugustine.com
The downtown St. George area offers a fair share of tourist shops, so if you need a St. Augustine t-shirt to take back home, this is definitely your spot. But among these tourist traps are hidden jewels with unique treasures. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Bath Junkie- design your own bath items from lotions and creams to pet shampoo and conditioner. 62 A. Spanish Street www.bathjunkie.com
The Spice and Tea Exchange of St. Augustine- spices, gourmet teas and seasonings sure to delight your senses and your palate. 59 Hypolita Street www.claudeschocolate.com
Mullet Beach Gallery- shop for local art and hand-made jewelry. 51 Cordova Street A&B www.mulletbeachgallery.com
Claude’s Chocolates- after all that shopping you’ll need a snack. Try Claude’s for some chocolate treats combined with unique flavors like Fresh Ginger. 51 King Street
Not too far from the downtown area you will find Prime outlets, just a short drive up Interstate 95. There you’ll find outlets like Gucci, Kate Spade and Michael Kors just to name a few- a shopaholic could spend a whole day here. 500 Prime Outlets Boulevard
How to get there:
Take I-95 North toward Jacksonville to Exit 298 – US1 toward St. Augustine, approximately 114 miles from Eau Gallie Blvd. exit. Take US1 north 16 miles to King Street/CR 214 and head west for approximately half a mile and you’re there.
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