St. Augustine has been on a list of places that Hunter and I have longed to travel for a couple years. There are several US cities that we are eager to see while we are still in this stage with no children but tons of hard work all the time – we like to think we deserve the vacation every once in a while! This vacation was even easier to take as we were really here for Catherine & Garrett’s wedding back in May. So technically this was really a “workcation” but we worked hard and played hard in this case! First explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565! Historic St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States! Colonial America started right HERE! We loved
Let’s start with the Atlantic Ocean. Pro Tip : Do NOT wear sunglasses in the Atlantic! I thought I would take a nice stroll in the sea with my sunhat and sunglasses but before I knew it I was underwater! I grabbed my hat but my sadly my Wal-Mart succumbed to the waves. Other than that, we very much enjoyed spending an afternoon on the beach!
Next I want to talk about delicious food that St. Augustine has to offer! Al’s Pizza was fantastic especially the cannoli’s! We enjoyed the laid back, casual atmosphere. Although Al’s was great the two restaurants’ that stuck out to us the most were Columbia Restaurant and the Ice Plant.
Columbia’s black bean soup was the best that I’ve ever had and their Gazpacho tasted exactly like it did when I was in Spain a couple years ago. Hunter and I were very happy campers!
As far as the actual town of St. Augustine I would highly encourage you to choose St. Augustine Hop – On Hop – Off Trolley Tours. It was so convenient to be able to park in one spot and see all the attractions that were most important to us. We first visited St. George St. where you can find the old city gates. The City Gate of St Augustine stood to protect the citizens of St. Augustine. Still today, the old district retains its 16th century Spanish Colonial walled town appearance. The colonial buildings in the old district date from 1703 to 1821.
The Ice Plant we loved not only for their Sunday brunch but also for their significant history. The original “Ice Plant” building dates back to 1927, an experience like no other in Florida. It is complete with the original bridge crane on rails overhead the bar. The crane was used to pick up huge blocks of ice to then be broken down and sold to local customers and the shrimp boats. They did an amazing job of restoring the building so that you got the feeling of walking into an old factory. Not to mention that the St. Augustine Distillery is right downstairs so cheers to that!We then headed to easily the city’s most popular attraction, the Fountain of Youth! This park marks the point where Ponce de Leon supposedly found the fountain of youth, a water source that would make the drinker stay young forever. We drank from the fountain and explored the park, obviously while hoping for eternal life! We were also able to see an old rifle demonstration. Very loud but very cool!Next we headed to the Oldest Store Museum, which re-creates the original St. Augustine general store that was operated by C.F. Hamblen in 1908. Exploring this extensive collection of authentic products is like stepping into a Sears and Roebuck catalog from the early 20th century. Living history tour guides act the parts of clerks and salesmen as they demonstrate the latest inventions for turn-of-the-century “modern” living — everything from tonics to unicycles to a goat-powered washing machine. The store was a fascinating experience!
The last piece of St. Augustine that we were able to enjoy was the courtyard of the Lightner Museum. Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel built in 1888 by Henry Morrison Flagler. The hotel was often called “the castle of happy returns.” The hotel was at the peak of its popularity during the 1890’s. More than 25,000 guests visited the Alcazar during those early winter seasons and countless more used the recreational facilities of the casino. For the pleasure of the guests, there was the world’s largest indoor swimming pool at the time, the grand ballroom, sulfur baths, a steam room, massage parlor, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, archery ranges, tennis courts and a bicycle academy. We would have loved to see this place back in the day!
From soaking in the culture, to staying up way too late watching the bay on the edge of Castillo de San Marcos visiting with our sweet friend Kyle, Hunter and I had an amazing time in America’s oldest city!
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