America’s oldest city is right under my nose, in my own backyard and I can’t even write about it. What is wrong with me?
Forgive me St. Augustine.
You have been and still are one of my favorite places to visit again and again. Your quaint and charming ways have found a special spot in our hearts. Not only because you are a three hour drive away from us, over the years, my husband and I both love to run away to you for a quick romantic getaway or to bring out of town guests to show them that Florida is more than just the theme parks.
St. Augustine was officially founded in 1565 when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida in the early 1500s while on his search for the legendary Fountain of Youth (for real?). Today, St. Augustine boasts of its rich and exotic past mixed with beautiful beaches and lots of tourist attractions sprinkled with liberal amounts of Florida sunshine.
St. Augustine is located in the Northeast corner of Florida and less than two hours away from Orlando. So if you get tired of Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter, a quick step back in time will rejuvenate that history geek in you!
Teeming with history
If Orlando is all about the fast paced colorful theme parks, St. Augustine is all about the history. Strolling through downtown St. Augustine’s cobblestone streets evokes that “old-worldly” sense coupled with cute romantic undertones. All modern structures were built to look like it was a hundred years old so it blends seamlessly with the true historic nature of the place. Horse drawn carriage rides along the harbor with the view of the bay and the Fort and the Bridge of Lions from a distance provide a picturesque backdrop to anybody visiting the area.
Even my photos are in sepia or black and white to match the nostalgic scenes.
Old and creepy
So cute and romantic can also be replaced with old and creepy, specially at night. If you like ghost stories, you are in the right place! There are so many ghost tours available from walking in cemeteries to riding a train or a hearse to check out the many “most haunted” sites. Some stories may have some truth to it, some are obviously made up. It is up to you to if you believe in the them or not. But there are definitely lots of spooky places, this being the oldest city. It makes for one very interesting evening.
I had goosebumps taking those cemetery shots at night. I didn’t look at the images on my camera’s viewfinder and didn’t really get to view them until I downloaded them into my computer a few days later. It’s just me, I scare easily.
During one of our many visits, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. It was cute and charming at first, with all those grandma doilies and white lace and antique chairs until it turned dark in the evening then it stopped being cute with the creaky wooden floors and all!
Built in the 1800s, the St. Augustine lighthouse is still very much in active use today. For a small fee, you can enter the museums, walk around the grounds and even climb up 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse. The views are spectacular!
Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in North America built by the Spanish originally to thwart English attacks. This was back when Florida was still under Spanish rule.
Of coquinas and cannons
Coquina (Spanish for small shells) is the material from which the Castillo de San Marcos is mostly built. It is similar to limestone and is made from little shells that have bonded together over time. Many have thought that this was a poor choice for building material for a fortress as it was light and porous but it was the only one available to use nearby however, when cannonballs were fired and flying, instead of shattering the walls, it got stuck or absorbed into the rock. A lucky find indeed. Makes for great legendary tales. The coquina saved the day!
These are just some of the main finds in this historic city. St. Augustine is a treasure full of activities and attractions, one that suits the young and old alike.
Because we are traveling less frequently these days, I thought I could write some stuff about Florida. What better way to promote my home base right? I don’t need to travel out of state or out of the country to be able to come up with something for my blog because I already got tons of “fun-tastic” Florida faves lined up for you!