With its mix of historic buildings, fun events and old-world charm, St. Augustine is a great destination for a day trip.
The Ancient City or Old City, as it is nicknamed, is steeped in culture and history. From quaint shops to fascinating, historic streets, St. Augustine has it all.
St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the United States. In a country where most of the cities are relatively young, it is an especially exciting place to visit.
Florida was claimed for Spain by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513. St. Augustine was officially founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565. It has been inhabited ever since, and it’s waiting for you to stop by and explore it.
One of the best things about visiting St. Augustine is simply roaming its winding, historic streets.
With that in mind, you should plan your visit for a time when the weather will be fairly nice. To put it mildly, St. Augustine can be scorching hot and oppressively humid in the summer. Daily thunderstorms are also the norm between June and September, when St. Augustine gets most of its annual 50 inches of rain. To walk the streets in comfort, try to plan your day trip for the fall, winter or spring.
Walking is the preferred way to take in the sights of St. Augustine, but there are a few other fun options for getting around as well. Horse-drawn coaches are available, and they are perfect for couples who want to make the most of the city’s romantic side. There are also trams that offer narrated tours of the city. Hop on one of them upon arriving to enjoy a nice, relaxing introduction to the city.
Some of the best events in St. Augustine happen during times of more moderate weather. The Rhythm & Ribs Festival, which combines fantastic barbecue and amazing music, takes place in March. The Holiday Regatta of Lights, which features lighted boats that travel across the St. Augustine Bay, happens in December. One perk to visiting St. Augustine in the summer is that you’ll be able to check out the annual Concerts in the Plaza series, which features free concerts on Thursdays throughout the season.
As far as seeing the sights goes, you have a dizzying array of choices in St. Augustine. Make sure to take a long, leisurely stroll along St. George Street during your visit. It is studded with charming boutiques, cozy restaurants, lovely art galleries and many unique shops.
Of course for history buffs there’s the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. But try to visit as many of the following attractions as possible while spending time in St. Augustine too:
- Florida’s Oldest House – It makes sense that the oldest house in Florida is located in St. Augustine, and this attraction is well worth a visit. In addition to featuring the Gonzalez-Alvarez House, which was built during the early 1700s, this attraction includes a garden, two museums and a museum store. The site itself has been occupied since the 1600s.
- St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum – One of the most enduring symbols of St. Augustine is its lighthouse, which is located on the north end of Anastasia Island. It was built during the 1870s, and it is a popular spot for visitors to the city. Make sure to climb to the top to enjoy a wonderful view of the historic city below.
- Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum – By visiting this unique attraction, you’ll be able to get a feel for what life must have been like in St. Augustine during the 1740s. At that point in its history, the city was a far-flung outpost of the Spanish Empire. Interpreters in costumes explain various facts about the way life was in St. Augustine during that time. Admission is very cheap, and you can explore this attraction at your own pace.
- Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse – In keeping with the theme of St. Augustine being the Ancient City, it is also home to this really old schoolhouse. It was built more than 200 years ago, so make sure to stop by and take a look.
- Themed Walking Tours – Finally, there are several companies in St. Augustine that offer themed walking tours of the city. Themes include scandals, pirates, ghosts and romance. Try to participate in at least one of these fun and informative tours.
St. Augustine is so jam-packed with things to see and do, however, that you might want to stretch your visit out to two or three days, and if that’s the case, we’ve got you covered with this article here.
St. Augustine will show you a whole new side of the state of Florida. It serves as a reminder of the state’s long, impressive history. The beach is right there too, so you can include some fun in the sun while you’re there as well.
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