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Spring into St. Augustine


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    Published 4-28-2019

    There’s a reason why USA Today counted St. Augustine among the top 10 travel destination in America last year and it was one of only three Florida cities included in TripAdvisor’s Top U.S. 25 Destinations in 2015. If you haven’t visited in a decade and remember a sleepy little town, you won’t recognize this new Oldest City.

    Spring is the perfect time. There's will be no snow and it hasn’t reached 90% yet. Iconic Castillo de San Marcos was built to defend the city from pirate attacks. Stop in at the Pirate and Treasure Museum for the pirates' side of the story.

    Don't miss Fort Matanzas National Monument. It's where the Spanish defeated the French to be the top-dog in Florida.


    Then have fun on the water kayaking, paddleboarding, on a hydrobike with Sea Serpent Tours, or take a schooner trip into the past. Feed the sharks at the new St. Augustine Aquarium.  

    If you opt for the unusual,  how about the Medieval Torture Museum. Got an enemy you really don’t like? No, only kidding. This museum does let you touch instruments like The Rack and The Spanish Boot but you can’t use them on anyone.

    Old attractions have gearing up with upgrades like the Colonial Quarter that takes you from the 16th to the 18th century. You get to watch a canon fires and lean all about antique rifles.

    Old Mission was the beginning. The giant Cross marks the spot where Menendez probably landed.

    The Fountain of Youth traces the oldest city's earliest citizens including Native Americans. Do not miss the cannon firing here.

    The Lighthouse combines history and haunting. We visited in the daytime and returned at night for the ghost tour. It's a completely different experience climbing those stairs and sitting in the keepers basement at night.

    fort mose in St augustine

    At the Old Jail, a deputy leads you through your incarceration process. If you wonder why the jail is not downtown, ask at Flagler College, once Henry Flagler's most upscale hotel. They'll tell you Flagler didn't want his wealthy guests thinking there was crime in the city so he paid to get the jail moved.

    Drop in and visit the home of one of Flagler's rivals, Villa Zorayda , former home of Boston millionaire Franklin W. Smith who built what is now the Casa Monica Hotel and lost it to Flagler.

    Another Flagler enemy built what is now Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum.  There are so many strange things there but perhaps the strangest is the exhibit related to the story of the two women who died in a fire there.  In the exhibit look one way and you see her and the other and you don't.

    Find out why long before the actual Underground Railroad began, enslaved people ran here to Fort Mose. For more recent Civil Rights history visit the Accord Civil Rights Museum.

    If you are a wildlife lover, do not miss St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Besides the usual alligators, there are white ones like these babies in the picture above. Also the wild birds flock there so you are sure to see more birds than you even imagined.

    Marineland is another wild life haven. The dolphins there are so cute. Besides its fun aspect, it is a important educational facility. Do take the Behind the Seas Tour. It's included in admission price.

    Machinery form the old ice plant at the St. Augustine Distillery Museum

    St. Augustine has become a foodie hotspot with the opening of places like the St. Augustine Distillery and its companion restaurant, Ice Plant. A tour of Whetstone Chocolates satisfies your sweet tooth craving.  Oldies but goodies are not forgotten. Harry’s New Orleans style food is still a favorite. Watch for the ghost of Catalina de Porres in the ladies room upstairs. Colombia on Saint George Street recalls the Spanish tradition.  La Floridian offers the feel of the life in the old city. Cap’s On the Water lets you enjoy a Florida sunset while you dine on local cuisine.

    Other spirits thrive in the Oldest City as well. San Sebastian Winery offers daily tours. Breweries are multiplying like the old Star Trek tribbles.

    One hint, save your feet and parking fees, assuming you can even find a spot. Take the trolley. It also offers a combo package with some museums included.

    Old is new again here.

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