As the temperature climbs, the mind drifts to thoughts of relaxing days spent by the ocean – white sand between your toes, a soothing lullaby created by the gentle surf, and the tranquil azure-blue water that appears to stretch infinitely before you. The appeal of this sea is worldwide and beach vacations have been a favorite of travelers for generations. As pristine beaches become more difficult to find, St. Augustine remains absolutely beloved by travelers for one very simple reason – here you feel a feeling of renewal and peace that can not be found anywhere else. Skunk Poop
St. Augustine was discovered in 1513 when Juan Ponce de Leon, sailing along the Atlantic coast looking for the fabled fountain of youth, came ashore somewhere in the vicinity and claimed the continent for Spain. Nicknamed”The Old City,” it is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in America – that’s right, it had been settled before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock – and is still one of the most charming and quaint beach towns in America. Besides its historic ties to the Spanish Empire, the town also boasts many remnants from the Flagler Era, when Henry Flagler’s vision of a luxury resort community added marinas, golf courses, and luxury hotels to the landscape in the late 19th century.
Each day, the area’s delightful historic district, with its cobblestone streets and its quaint cafes, bars, unique shops, and bed-and-breakfast inns, comes alive with tourists and locals setting out on foot to explore the multiple landmarks located in St. Augustine. Five you won’t want to overlook:
- The Castillo De San Marcos, a national monument with an elaborate double draw-bridge entry, has been both a powerful fort and a fearsome prison. An outstanding reminder of the power and might of the early Spanish empire in the New World, it is usually referred to as”The Fort.” The Castillo de San Marcos is completely made of coquina, a virtually indestructible limestone comprised of seashells and coral, and took more than 23 years to complete. Since its completion in 1695, the monument has remained impenetrable to both enemy fire and violent pounding by hurricanes.
- The Casa Monica is once again a luxurious landmark hotel, blending contemporary pleasures with a legendary past. Built in 1888 and restored in 1999, the hotel offers visitors an inspired Spanish décor. Both elegant and opulent, the hotel surrounds guests with jewel-toned velvet, elaborate tapestries, and luminous chandeliers.
- Colonial Spanish Quarter, a living museum where costumed interpreters relive a time when St. Augustine was a distant outpost in the Spanish Empire, will interest both young and old.
Those daring to climb the 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse are rewarded was a spectacular 360-degree view of downtown St. Augustine and the shore areas.
- The Fountain of Youth, where Ponce de Leon used rock markers to draw out a cross whose center marked what he believed to be its exact location. The spring still flows and, whether seeking relief from the Florida heat or the key to eternal youth, visitors are invited to sample to cool waters. The grounds also have a village which was home to the Timucua Indians for over 1500 years, a planetarium where people journey through the night sky, and pathways that visitors can roam idly while analyzing the native plants and historical artifacts along the way.
Children will delight in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, the only place in the world where 23 species of crocodile can be observed. Historical tours of the Old City are available in a myriad of forms. Visitors can choose to watch the world go by from a helicopter, open trolley, or horse-drawn carriage. If you’re looking for something unique, those with an interest in the paranormal can even take a ghost tour of the city’s historic attractions and cemeteries in an authentic hearse.