If the impression of “the oldest and the longest continually inhabited European settlement” in the United States doesn’t grab your attention to the city of St. Augustine, I know what more will. This family-friendly city has much to offer with its lightheartedness. More small reasons will pile up on your not-so-average-locations to visit in Florida. Here is mine:
This wouldn’t have been the first on my list if it hadn’t been known as the “Nation’s Oldest City”. St. Augustine is moulded with centuries-old history descending from the Spanish, English, African Americans, Native Americans and interestingly, the Greeks as well. Go back in time by paying a visit to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth or the oldest masonry fort Castillo de San Marcos.
The narrow and tapered streets of St.Augustine, initially dedicated to horsecarts and pedestrians, unfurl raw history amid its well-preserved buildings (given that the city had been burnt down twice).
Undoubtedly with its four centuries of backstory, this old town of Florida would be a history buff’s bliss.
A hint of history
Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth: It is believed that Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer was on an expedition to find the Fountain of Youth but found Florida instead. Legend says this was the likely landing of the expedition and their first steps ashore at this location in 1513.
While one might find the entire town to be a museum offering a rich piece of history at every corner, it is also good to explore the museums of St. Augustine that have fun-filled historical activities conducted that might spark the enthusiasm even more.
St. Augustine retains a Ripley’s Believe it or not museum. What makes it different from the hundred others in the nation, you ask? Well, it is the first ever Ripley’s raised. So knock yourself out and check out the freaky and bloodcurdling collections installed way back in time.
Pirate devoted museums and wax museums are also a tiny source of historical income especially if you’re travelling with your family. As cheesy as they sound, they nudge you to catch up with some spooky pirate history and all their adventures through interactive strategies.
3. Ghost and history tours
Certainly, with a rich history comes haunting stories that have been carried through the years. With the addition of cemeteries placed at walking distances of each other, eager beavers can take this ghost tours and find out about suspected ghosts and the whereabouts of grave sites. If you have got it in you, sign up for these tours past twilight and double up the spine-chilling experience.
4. Tram tours
Most of the tourists find it convenient to circle around the city by taking town trolleys. These trolleys run along the historical landmarks of St. Augustine while you’re guided through the events.
Frankly, I’d suggest walking around town, picking up rich historical sightings from plaques at every corner rather than taking the trolley. This will save you time from waiting in line for the trolleys.
5. Food and Music
Though St. Augustine is not ideal for people who scowl at history, I will still not leave them in vain. For those, I’ll simply put it this way. Grab a beer, stroll the narrow streets of the old town, let the live music playing on the street sync with your unruly thoughts and treat yourself with good food and the company of dressed up pirates all around town.
It comes as no surprise (again!) that St. Augustine has some of the best antique collections. You will also find handpicked and handcrafted items that are unique to the old town’s charm. So don’t think twice about spending your afternoon shopping on these cute cobblestone streets.
a. It is very hard to find parking spots in the hub of the city, especially during the weekends. You can park your car at the ticket centre (which fill up fast) and take the guided trolley tours. If you prefer to walk to the spirited part of town, worry not. St. Augustine will keep you curious and entertained throughout.
I visited St.Augustine during the week of Christmas and it was a lovely ambience I was immersed in. This 4-hour trip was as unplanned as it could have gotten. What started off with a little enthusiasm after a long day at Wekiwa, ended in a lighthearted and a good spirited(ignoring the spooky bits) picnic with my brother. It is definitely my go-to-happy-place. If I could, I would do this all over again.