Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously populated city in the United States and provides an excellent opportunity to dive into the history of the United States in a few days time with a population of roughly 15,000 people. There is ample opportunity to see all that this colonial city has to offer in just a few days visit. It's quaint, yet interesting and offers more than you might expect given its minimal size. The Florida weather allows for a visit year round, though August can get ridiculously hot.
In what other state would you expect to see the World Golf Hall of Fame? Florida allows the weekend duffer and aspiring professional alike to hit the links year-round on its many thousands of golf clubs that make it a true golfing destination. The Hall of Fame brings the sport to life with a deep dive into its history though a series of permanent and changing exhibits each year.
Built in 1891 with the help of Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, St. Augustine's old jail doesn't look the part one bit, but rather seamlessly fits in this old colonial town. The jail closed in 1954 and has been drawing crowds ever since. The guides dress in period costumes and quickly point out that fans of the paranormal are in the right spot. Along with the Old Drug Store and Potter's Wax Museum, many residents of St. Augustine are plenty convinced that their town is haunted.
St. Augustine offers a tourist destination that doesn't force you to rush through it like many cities in Florida. While Orlando and other cities demand that you hurry up and wait, St. Augustine politely asks you to stop and smell the flowers. George Street is a great way to spend a lazy day picking up souvenirs, perusing antique shops and grabbing lunch followed by a bit of ice cream.
When Spain claimed the state of Florida, it's fear of both the British and pirates saw it construct the Castillo de San Marcos. It is the oldest masonry fortification and the only 17th-century military site to survive the United States many wars. The site became a national monument in 1900 having served the British in the Revolutionary War and both sides in the Civil War. Depending on the time of the year, this fortification can be downright hot when you visit.
This 219-step lighthouse deserves a camera where you will have the opportunity to take stunning photos from the lighthouse built between 1871 and 1874. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is open daily and is an easy two-mile walk from historic George Street.
Located roughly 15 miles outside of downtown St. Augustine the Wild Reserve presents visitors with a chance to take in many creatures far from native to Northern Florida. This non-profit sanctuary does not allow visitors to take photos, but this is just another reason why this is a popular destination in St. Augustine. Visitors have been remarking for years on how well-taken care of the animals are here. Tigers, bears, leopards and a former lion owned by the late, great Michael Jackson are all on display.
The South Atlantic ocean, as well as the Caribbean, are steeped in pirate history and St. Augustine's Pirate & Treasurer Museum celebrates this time that defined the naval activity of the area. In this tour are the world's oldest Wanted poster and a couple of skull and crossbones flags from the 17th-century. The museum also features a replica pirate ship that visitors are encouraged to board. Captain Mayhem runs a great guided tour with an opportunity to track down the pirate treasure said to be housed in the museum by using the hidden clues found throughout the tour.
The five-mile walk to St. Augustine's Beach is likely a bit too far for most families, but the beach is accessible by trolley as well as one of St. Augustine's busses. It's a very isolated beach with over two miles of white sand. Most days the beach has an excellent rolling surf suitable for young kids. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy this secluded Florida beach's covered pavilion.
Ripley's has a series of museums all over the world celebrating the fantastic and beyond belief. Robert Ripley's first museum featuring the bizarre opened here in 1950 and was the first of his many museums. This museum doesn't focus on St. Augustine, but instead, features objects from all over the world.
While Alabama and Mississippi are more associated with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, St. Augustine has its own history on display at the Excelsior Museum. Exhibits include the history of Lincolnville, the construction of Fort Mose by runaway slaves and the signage of the Monson Motor Lodge where Martin Luther King Jr. was refused entry in the early 1960's.
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