Located approximately 30 miles south of Jacksonville is the coastal city of St. Augustine, Florida, a city rich in Spanish colonial architecture and North American history. St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, is home to 450 years’ of history from its founding by Spanish explorers in the 16th Century, to the elegance of Flagler College founded in 1968. A great deal of North American history can be discovered in St. Augustine as well as sun and fun sea coast activities that attract families from across the country. Of the many delights of St. Augustine, here are my favorites:
1. Ponce de León Hotel – Constructed towards the end of the 1800s, this establishment has held fast against the ravages of time. It’s rich history includes location for civil rights movements, Coast Guard training, and is now part of the Flagler Legacy tour. The hotel has been restored and had become a National Historic Landmark in 2006.
2. Stoked to Surf Camp – Introduce your family to the world of surfing with professional trainers who are specialized in teaching the basics of handling the waves and how to surf safely. Take a birthday to a whole new level by allowing Stoked to Surf to host your party. Why settle for clowns and piñatas when you can ride the wave in from the ocean?
3. Tasting Tours – Travel in a carriage with fringe-on-top to locations around the city of St. Augustine to taste and sip a wide range of foods and wines that are inspired by the city’s heritage and coastal location. Tours can range from two to three and a half hours depending on the venue you wish to experience.
4. St. Augustine Lighthouse – As one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is a treasure trove of information regarding maritime traditions and heritage spanning centuries. Although the original tower for the lighthouse built in the late 1500s was destroyed by a storm, the site’s new tower is more than 130 years old and is infamous as a ghost haunting.
5. Florida’s Oldest House – Visit a house that is home to more than 200 years of occupations ranging from the original Spanish colonies through the British occupation, and finally leading into the American acquisition of the location. The house itself is the oldest surviving Spanish Colonial residence in Florida and was established as a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
6. Potter’s Wax Museum – As one of the nation’s oldest wax museums, this location has more than 160 highly detailed figures of history frozen in time. The accuracy of the wax figures is so amazing that you half expect them to be stage actors ready to get up and walk off. Coincidentally, the Potter’s Wax Museum is also home to various ghost stories and hauntings.
7. Castillo de San Marcos – One of the most prominent locales in St. Augustine is the site for the Castillo de San Marcos. The fort has seen four centuries worth of history, is the oldest masonry-crafted fort in the continental United States, and is still in excellent condition.
Although St. Augustine is relatively small compared to other tourist meccas in Florida, the sheer history and personal appeal have attracted many to visit and live in this city. Once the scene for civil rights movement, a number of battles, and location of the Old Spanish trail spanning from St. Augustine to San Diego, California, a great deal of American heritage can be rediscovered by those who visit this fascinating coastal city.
About The Author: Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.
Photo Credits: #1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/notanyron/5502825242/, #2 Wikimedia Commons