Explore The History Of St. Augustine

March 12, 2024
Explore the History of St. Augustine

Explore the history of St. Augustine, the oldest city in the continental United States. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States. It was founded Forty-two years before the English colonized Jamestown and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The Spanish established St. Augustine as this nation’s first enduring settlement.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Uncovering the Past: Explore the History of St. Augustine

History buffs will enjoy wandering through the streets of St. Augustine as it’s like stepping into a living museum. The Historic District, and its cobblestone roads, centuries-old buildings, and old-world charm captivate the many visitors that flock to the city of St. Augustine.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Old World Meets Modern Day

While St. Augustine is steeped in history, it also seamlessly blends the past with the present, offering modern amenities and attractions that cater to contemporary tastes. The city’s pristine beaches, such as Anastasia State Park and Vilano Beach, are perfect for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts, providing a relaxing escape amidst natural beauty.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Things To Do

Hop on a trolly to take a self-guided tour of this beautiful city and visit the many historical landmarks and buildings. Walk where Spanish soldiers once stayed, and learn the history of Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Enjoy modern cuisine at the many restaurants throughout this ancient city, and learn about the history of the building the restaurant calls home. There are also many outdoor adventures awaiting you in St. Augustine, like paddle boarding, dolphin viewing, and deep-sea fishing.

Adventures In The GTM (Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve)

In 1513 off the coast from this very spot (30 degrees, 8 minutes North Latitude), Juan Ponce de Leon and his navigators logged this position just off the Florida Coast. The next day they came ashore and claimed La Florida for Spain. The GTM Reserve is 76,000 acres of Florida’s northeast coast. It stretches from Ponte Vedra Beach to the Palm Coast. The GTM Reserve is divided into a northern component in St. Johns County and a southern component in Flagler County. Some of the many things you can do here are hiking trails, biking trails, kayaking docks, and visiting the museum. There are also kayaking docks and wildlife viewing, you may even find fossilized shark teeth on the beach.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Step into history as you cross the bridge into Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. The Fort was built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

The Original Masonry

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument preserves the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States and is home to more than 450 years of cultural history.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Visit The Oldest Streets In North America

Take a stroll down Aviles St., the oldest street in North America, where the bricks on the street are still the same bricks that were put there in the 1700s and 1800s.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Shops And Galleries To Explore

Filled with rich history, this street is lined with restaurants, shops, and the Aviles Art Gallery, where the owner will offer you a glass of wine, and a pair of 3D glasses.

Walk down St. George Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and eateries. This street invites exploration and offers a glimpse into the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

Explore The Many Museums

The Lightner Museum, which is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, is a treasure trove of art, antiques, and artifacts from the Gilded Age. Its halls and exquisite collections reflect the grandeur of a bygone era, showcasing the city’s evolution from a Spanish outpost to a thriving resort destination.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

The Oldest Parish In The Country

One of my favorite historical landmarks was the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. It is open every day of the week, and you are welcome to light a candle, say a prayer, or stay for one of its many services. Check the website or the sign outside for the daily services offered.

Explore the History of St. Augustine

Tour St. Augustine Distillery

Take a tour of the old Ice Factory turned Distillery. The St. Augustine Distillery produces vodka, bourbon, rum, and gin. Founded by 20 local families, their vision was to create world-class spirits that would last for future generations. They preserved, restored, and transformed Florida’s oldest ice plant into what is now the most visited craft distillery in America. Educating and inspiring guests with handcrafted, award-winning bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka is truly their passion. As you enter the distillery, you are greeted with a cocktail tasting, then head out to where the magic is made for a tour of the distillery. Be sure to stop by the shop and check out their merchandise, I loved creating my “Build a Bourbon”, at least that’s what I told them they should call it. They have all the items you need to create the perfect cocktail, including the glassware.

​Upstairs from the distillery is the Ice Plant Bar, where you can grab a bite to eat, listen to live music, and have a couple of cocktails made with St. Augustine spirits.

Grab a Glass of Vino at San Sebastian Winery

Just up the street from St. Augustine Distillery is San Sebastian Winery. Located in St. Augustine’s Historic District one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings, which is now home to the winery. Grab a glass of their award-winning wine and head upstairs for live music at the Cellar.

View Wildlife and Bird Watch From the Bow of The Florida Water Tour

Just across the bridge from the Holiday Inn Express was the marina where Captian and Captain will greet you and share a story or two. These brothers and their wives living the dream of sharing the beautiful waterways of St. Agustine with their Dolphin and Wildlife Adventure aboard the Osprey.

Grab A Snack For The Ride

I highly recommend the Florida Water Tour, it was educational, informative, and a lot of fun. Be sure to grab a charcuterie box where you check-in, it goes great with a glass of wine, which is available on the boat for purchase.

Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Another must-visit attraction is the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, where legend has it that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León searched for the elusive “Fountain of Youth.” The park offers a glimpse into Native American and Spanish colonial history through interactive exhibits, archaeological excavations, and lush botanical gardens, providing a fascinating journey into the region’s past.

Where To Stay

There are many historic hotels, modern hotels, and even haunted hotels to stay at in downtown St. Augustine. One of the newest areas to stay is just across the bridge on Vilano Beach. I stayed at the new Holiday Inn Express which has modern rooms with balconies. It was the perfect spot for me to regroup and relax as I explored the history of St. Augustine. The complimentary breakfast was wonderful, and the staff was very courteous and friendly. The coffee shop located in front of the hotel offers lattes and baked goods.

Where To Eat

Culinary enthusiasts will delight in St. Augustine’s diverse dining scene, which showcases a fusion of flavors ranging from fresh seafood delicacies to international cuisines. From waterfront bistros to cozy cafes tucked away in historic buildings, the city offers a culinary journey that complements its rich cultural tapestry. Some of the award-winning chefs who create these menus and delectable cuisine own several restaurants throughout St. Augustine.

Aunt Kate’s on the Water

This is a perfect place for lunch with a view. Located on the bank of the Tolomoto River and among live oaks is Aunt Kate’s. They offer indoor or outdoor deck seating. I recommend the outside setting for the amazing view. They start you off with their amazing basket of bread and butter, the apple cakes were my favorite. The menu includes steamed oysters, peel ‘n eat shrimp, fresh salad, great soups, a steak, or blackened chicken. You will find something for everyone and every pallet.

Pesca Restaurant On The Rooftop

Located on the rooftop at the Hyatt Place is Pesca Vilano. The coastal cuisine by Chef Michael Lugo Pesca combines globally-inspired bold Latin flavors and Florida fresh ingredients. The word “Pesca”, is the Spanish word for fishing, which was inspired by Michael’s late father’s favorite restaurant in his native Puerto Rico. The delectable lunch included a mouthwatering beet vegetable charcuterie and hummus plate. I highly recommend sharing a couple of plates with your friends, the food is that good, and you are going to want to try it all.

Catch 27 Restaurant

Named for Florida becoming the 27th state, Catch 27 offers fresh Florida seafood. For my appetizer, I ordered the best deviled eggs I have ever had. This “Deviled Egg BLT with Southern Fried Oyster” came with a little jar of yummy housemade tomato-bacon jam. They were so good, we ordered them twice. Be sure to try the craft cocktails and fresh catch of the day.

Bourbon tasting Bourbon & Boards on the Plaza

For an amazing dinner experience in the heart of history, you need to head to Bourbon & Boards. This culinary delight is located on the corner of the oldest street in the nation, Aviles Street. Bourbon & Boards offers exquisite dining, amazing cocktails, and a large wine selection. They are open for dinner every day, and brunch on the weekends. Known for their Old Fashioned, they also offer a wide selection of craft cocktails. My dinner was a mushroom risotto with scallops, it was delectable. Be sure to visit their website for their schedule of events.

Preserving the Legacy for Future Generations

St. Augustine’s commitment to preserving its heritage is evident in ongoing efforts to conserve historical sites. They promote cultural awareness and support local artisans and businesses. Organizations such as the St. Augustine Historical Society and the St. Johns Cultural Council play vital roles in safeguarding the city’s legacy. Fostering a deep appreciation for its heritage among residents and visitors alike is of top priority.

Explore Amelia Islands While You’re On The East Coast Of Florida

Fly Into Jacksonville And Stay A While.



Leave the first comment