Looking for a weekend getaway that won’t have the kids climbing out the car windows or your spouse asking “are we there yet?” Head to St. Augustine where there is something for everyone and you can spend lots of time exploring rather than lots of time in the car.
The Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez founded this city on the East Coast of Florida back in 1565. There are a great examples of the city’s long history all over the downtown area. The Castillo de San Marcos, the fort constructed in the late 1600’s built of coquina shell stone still stands on the north side of downtown. The oldest Catholic Church in America, the Basilica of St. Augustine is located just off the main square with it’s hand painted beams, large stain glass windows and tolling bells that can be heard for blocks. Henry Flagler, the railroad mogul and co-founder of Standard Oil, built the Flagler Hotel in the 1800’s and it is still in use today as Flagler College. It takes up a large amount of acreage along the back of the historic district. Spend some time wandering the well manicured grounds and soak up the unique architecture of the buildings that once served as an upscale resort for the wealthy.
Head back into the main downtown quarter and wander the streets, several of which are pedestrian only and take in the sights and sounds of this ecclectic city. Reggae, jazz and rock and roll music spill out onto the streets from many of the restaurants that boast patio seating and offer fresh seafood and local dishes. Specialty shops selling everything from plastic alligators to home made peanut butter fudge to hand made jewlery can be found next to buildings that are listed on the Register of Historic Places.
Once you have had your fill of great tasting seafood and live music downtown stroll a few blocks down to the water front and fantasize about owning one of the many yachts and pleasure boats anchored here. Take a boat tour leaving from the marina that affords a unique view of the city and the coast line. While wandering the water front be sure to pose for pictures with the pair of lions that anchor the Bridge of Lions the leads to a string of beaches heading south down the East Coast.
The first beach you will come to is St. Augustine Beach which is next to the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Get some great exercise by climbing the tower to the top where your reward will be a feast of spectacular views. The next beach along Highway A1A is Crescent Beach which you can drive onto if you have a sturdy SUV or 4 x 4. This beach is a favorite of the locals as it is unspoiled by development and boasts miles of soft sand beach perfect for sand castle building or a leisurely walk, yet it is only minutes from downtown.
St. Augustine is loaded with things to do, great food to sample and wonderful beaches to spend the day relaxing on. Pack a bag, grab some snacks for the drive and head to the upper East Coast of Florida for a great long weekend.