This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE cities to visit! I grew up about 30 minutes from this city in a town called Jacksonville Beach, Florida. There is so much history here. I could write 100 reviews and still probably not hit on all the points of this city. This would be one review that I wish we could post multiple photos. Talking about this place through the pen only, just isn’t going to give this city justice.
Let me start off by giving you a little bit of history. Before you wonder… Yes… I know a lot about this city, because it was actually in our history books in high school. The history of Florida was literally drilled into our brains, we were educated about it so much! I can remember there were times during high school, where I would actually dream about some of our founding forefathers.
I have to admit, that I was one of the few students that actually liked to read about the history of our state. Anyway…let me get back to my thoughts… There was an ole chap by the name of Pedro Menendez, who founded St. Augustine. Making it the oldest continually occupied European settlement in North America.
Spain’s Queen at the time, realized that St. Augustine was the keystone in the defense of Florida’s coastline. So she ordered the construction of a new fort made of stone. Another ole chap built this fort by the name of Castillo de San Marcos. It took him and his crew about 23 years to build it. For now…this is about all the information that you will get on this fort. This will be a future review, for another time.
St. Augustine has approximately 43 miles of white sandy beaches, that bring over one million visitors each year. Now…this is a barbecue order that would be very hard to fill. Among some of the historical sights to see are: The Oldest House; It’s the areas oldest surviving Spanish colonial structure in St. Augustine. The Lightner Museum has three floors of exquisite 19th century decorative art. St. Photios National Greek Orthodox Shrine is dedicated to the first colony of Greek folks that ever came to America in 1768.
Some of my personal favorite sightseeing and attractions are: “San Sebastian Winery.” I had an absolute wonderful time enjoying the tour of the brewery and the wine tasting classes. The “Alligator Farm” is a zoological park, where many of Florida’s oldest living alligators reside. Not too close please. If they get hungry. There may be an added addition to their plate and some missing body parts from yours!
There is also a crocodile park called “The Legend of Gomek.” Here you can see the famous giant crocodile from New Guinea, which has been magnificently taxidermied in all its splendor. Salt anyone?
The “Fountain of Youth” is an exhibit where the legendary Ponce de Leon found evidence of the existence of a Timucuan Indian habitation. Ponce de Leon discovered a spring that supposedly, if someone drank from it…they would maintain their youth for an indefinite period of time. Back then…settlers were dying at a young age from various diseases and plagues. So…they were willing to try anything that could help. History has documented, that his own life was prolonged by several years, just by drinking from this fountain. Again…this is another review in itself. Other interesting sights to peruse are the “Old Jail,” “Old Fort,” and the “Old School House.”
There are several sightseeing train and horse buggy tours and cruises. One of my favorite experiences was during a “Ghost Tour.” We learned some very interesting information about this town. You see…St. Augustine has been listed as the #1 most haunted cities in America. I snapped various pictures of areas where in times past, unexplainable images appeared, once those photos were developed. Sure enough…I had a host of “ghostly spooks” show up in my photos. It was kind of neat!
The town is filled with a massive amount of quaint shops to peruse and fill your shopping bags full. The restaurants and cafes are to die for! The folks in this town are very friendly. So much so…I was offered several positions of opportunity, if I ever decided to change my place of residence.
Yes…this is definitely a town that will keep you history buff’s plate full. It’s great for all budgets and a perfect place to bring your kids. So…if you happen to be on this side of the country. Please…if you haven’t already…make this one of your stops. You will not only learn a great deal of history…but have a whole lot of fun doing it!