Saint Augustine, Florida. The oldest city in the United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez after defeating the native Seminoles and stealing their land, the city once served as a seaport as well as the foothold on the colonization of the land mass that we now call the United States. Today it is a quaint tourist town boasting a wide variety of shops, historical attractions and scenic walks that seem like something from a movie set.
While it is a much less popular Florida destination than Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Daytona Beach, Saint Augustine hosts history, culture, shopping and a beautiful beach, all perfect for the Florida traveler who wants a change of scenery and access to corny war re-enactments. Located less than an hour south of Jacksonville, getting there from the Jacksonville airport is easiest by rental car, and for lodging, there is a plethora of small hotels and charming bed and breakfasts scattered within the small city.
The old town is shaped by the Intracoastal Waterway, with beautiful boats filling up the marina. You can rent a boat in St. Augustine for an unforgettable time exploring. The Castillo de San Marcos, a historic Spanish fort sits on the waterfront and is available to tour, providing a glimpse into the history of the founding of the city as well as ceremonies of shooting off cannons and re-enactments.
A nice thing about the town is that it really can be experienced in one day, as long as you’re okay with walking a lot. The old city is very pedestrian friendly and is a beautiful place to walk in. Saint Augustine is a great place to stop in for a day if other spots in Florida are taking precedent on a vacation.
Food & Drink in St. Augustine
For an awesome happy hour, check out A1A Aleworks. They feature brews from their own brewery as well as many other local and imported beers. They have amazing appetizers on their happy hour menu, the blue crab and artichoke dip being a favorite amongst me and my friends who went two days in a row.
Catch 27 is an amazing local place that is small and serves up a great menu of different seafood items. I would definitely eat there again, and it is very reasonably priced
Shops in St. Augustine
Get chocolate here. They have an amazing selection of fudge, truffles, caramel apples, and other sweets.
A cool local bar that offers a free house cigar with any house pour. Yes, I did try to smoke a cigar and I quit after about three puffs. YEEUCKKK.
A haven for people who love customized beauty products and rad smells. Pick your product, scent, and color and have it all whipped together in an awesome combination. Kind of expensive but their shea butter lotion makes your skin smooth as a baby’s ass.
Also, check out TripAdvisor for more recommendations. I have never stayed in a hotel in St. Augustine, but there are a ton of cute ones to choose from.
Experiences in St. Augustine
If you really like alligators or reptiles in general, stop at Alligator Farm for an afternoon. They have wildlife shows and even rare animals like albino gators. Warning, it’s a bit pricy, and it STINKS!
If you’re staying in Jacksonville or anywhere on the Atlantic Coast of Northern Florida, definitely spend at least one day exploring St. Augustine. There’s so much interesting history to learn, food to eat, and plenty of shopping and entertainment.