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Historic Time in St. Augustine

Historic Time in St. Augustine

Finding a destination that has something for all family members or personality types can be tough. Some want a vacation where they just sit and relax on a beach, soaking up the sun. To others, sitting for days on end would be torture and they want to be active. But some want museums and culture, while others what shopping and cafes, while another family member would prefer active outdoor activities. On top of it all I just don't want to have to cook dinner every night. Does this magical place exist? St. Augustine had been recommended and it is a delightful destination that really seems to have it all. 

Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the US. The city has a wonderful historic district, with its old cobblestone streets, lovely architecture, unique shops and boutiques, and quaint little cafes. You can take a carriage ride through the cobblestone streets or stroll down St. George Street and do some window shopping.

Full of History

For those who want more activity, the city is full of culture, galleries, and museums that tell more about the fascinating history of the area. The Castillo de San Marcos is a National Monument constructed by the Spanish entirely of broken coquina shells and coral that make an indestructible limestone and along with Fort Matanzas to the south and Fort Mose to the north, defended this area of coastline. Also along the shore, the Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is another not-to-miss structure to enjoy coastal views. The Pirate & Treasure Museum also shares artifacts and details about pirating along these shores from the 1600’s through present day.

There are numerous galleries to enjoy and during the First Friday Art Walk you can wander galleries with food and drinks while viewing featured artists’ work. A unique personal collection of art and artifacts is housed at the beautiful Alcazar Hotel, which opened in 1889 and was later purchased to become the Lightner Museum. 

Of course a city this historic would have numerous "old" things to tour. The Authentic Old Jail, the Oldest Store Museum, the Oldest Wooden School House, and the Old Drugstore are just a few to visit. You can take a trolley train or a guided walking tour to enjoy these sites or try a nightly ghost tour if you're more adventurous. 

Sugar Sand Beaches

For those who love the beach like I do, you can stay 5 miles south of the city at St. Augustine's Beach and can easily walk to its sugar sand shore and piers, looking for a variety of shells along the way. There are plenty of water sports to enjoy, but an excursion with an ecotour company is a great way to enjoy the water. Kayaking under the Bridge of Lions and spotting dolphins, herons and spoonbills is such a treat!

Delicious Places to Enjoy

Of course all these activities work up an appetite and there are plenty of delicious places to enjoy. I love it when I find cities that have diverse restaurant options - like the variety of seafood, Spanish, and Caribbean dishes here. 

Not far from the beach is the Kookaburra, a great little coffee shop. It is located downtown too, so you can get an afternoon pick-me-up while shopping or go out of your way to stop for a stone hearth baked treat at the Spanish Bakery and Cafe. Also close to the beach was the popular Burrito Works Taco Shop, a quirky but tasty place that used local produce and one of the favorite's is Mango Mango's, an island-style bar a block from the beach that had good food and great happy hour drinks. 

One place that came highly recommended was the Columbia Restaurant, a Traditional Spanish restaurant right downtown. You can try delicious Cuban cuisine and Spanish dishes as well as Southern-style recipes. We also love dining in unique locations and architecture like at the Ice Plant Bar, located inside a historic ice plant and the Prohibition Kitchen. Both have great drinks and food and the homemade milkshakes at Prohibition Kitchen are amazing!

You don't have to eat out all the time since the farmers' market is at the St. Augustine amphitheatre. Not only do they have a great selection of local produce, but baked treats and unique local art make for fun shopping too. If you time your visit right, you can catch a local band at the amphitheatre's outdoor music venue.

I usually don't describe cities as quaint, but that does describe St. Augustine. Quaint and wonderfully historic, mixed with the ocean and beaches, and a variety of cultures and good food make a fantastic and relaxing week!


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