Whether you’re a pirate fanatic, a history buff, or someone who just likes to see beautiful cities, then St. Augustine needs to be on your list of places to travel. I was lured in by the fact that it’s a pirate town, and want to go back because of its historic charm.
I was fortunate enough to see St. Augustine, Florida a few months ago. Seeing St. Augustine was on my list of goals to accomplish by the end of summer. Of course, I learned that we can’t put time limits on our goals because I literally visited St. Augustine a month after the deadline I gave myself back in June. But metaphysical revelations aside, St. Augustine is an incredible town and is more than deserving to be on your list of places to visit.
If you have a full day or just a few hours to visit St. Augustine, this city is worth seeing. So if you decide to make a trip down to the oldest city in America, make sure you put time aside for these three must-see locations.
These college kids are so lucky! Flagler College is a small, private university in the heart of St. Augustine. It was once the Ponce de Leon Hotel, an exquisite hotel that once housed the elite staying in St. Augustine back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was even wired by Thomas Edison. I didn’t even get to see the stunning dining hall or the incredible Flagler room and I was still in awe of this gorgeous architecture. This college still emits a luxurious energy that it was created for over one hundred years ago. Even if you don’t have the time for the tour, make sure you walk the grounds and appreciate the time and energy that went into this incredible landmark.
St. George Street
If you’re looking to shop in the historic downtown area of St. Augustine, then St. George Street needs to be your next destination. Not only are the streets narrow and quaint like those in Sicily or Belgium, but there are unique shops and restaurants on every corner. We wandered into a restaurant called Rendezvous that sits at the end of a line of indoor shops. One of these amazing shops is called Aunt Matilda’s Steampunk Trunk. I’m a Steampunk fan and I’ve only come across two Steampunk stores in my whole life. There was the one in San Francisco and here, in St. Augustine, on St. George Street. This line of shops also included a spiritual store called The Purple Lotus. And this is just one portion of St. George Street. So if shopping and eating are on your list of things to do, then take a stroll through historic downtown St. Augustine, and be sure that some of those steps are on the infamous St. George Street.
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
I’m a bit biased because I studied Archaeology in college, but the Fountain of Youth is not just the Fountain of Youth. It’s also an Archaeological Park containing reconstructed homes and artifacts belonging to the indigenous people of St. Augustine. Aside from the actual Fountain of Youth, this Archaeological Park also has an observatory, an old church, and a watchtower that looks out to the coast. An added bonus is that there are plenty of peacocks wandering the grounds. I don’t see many peacocks during my daily routine, so I appreciated the adorable locals. The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a must-see destination if you find yourself in St. Augustine.
It was incredibly difficult for me to pick the top three things to see in St. Augustine, so here are a few honorable mentions.
Castillo de San Marcos
It’s a fort that was built to battle pirates. Enough said.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
I was raised Catholic and the churches have always fascinated me. I may not follow the ways anymore, but I can still appreciate the time and effort that goes into constructing elaborate Catholic churches.
Bridge of Lions
There are benches for you to sit on near the Bridge of Lions. Watch the ships (including the pirate ship known as the Black Raven) come in after a day of sailing.
Staug History Museum
Take a quick tour through this museum to learn the history of St. Augustine. Also, there is pirate treasure in there.
If you only have one day in St. Augustine, then you can take a trolley tour. The trolley tour takes you around the landmarks while giving you the history of the enchanting town. It’s a tourist activity, but in all fairness, it can be difficult to see an entire town in six hours. So if you only have a few hours to see the city, then the trolley tour is worth the cost. You can hop on and off at whatever stops you choose and with multiple trolleys going through the city at one time, you never wait long at a trolley stop. However, you can choose to park and walk it on your own. Either way, you will find well-preserved buildings, historical re-enactments and original city gates and forts that will transport you back in time.
St. Augustine quickly climbed my list for the best places to visit in America and I’m sure it will become one of your favorite destinations too.