Saint Augustine, the oldest European established city in the United States, offers charm and romance on nearly every street corner. Located in Northeast Florida about 40 miles south of Jacksonville and 55 miles north of Daytona Beach, St. Augustine is a great place to spend a leisurely weekend or an action-packed week. Families will find many activities and attractions; couples can spark romance by taking a horse-drawn carriage ride, or just walking the quiet, picturesque streets at night. After dark, many fine restaurants and nightclubs feature live entertainment. Two major trolleys serve downtown St. Augustine, so getting around is easy for everyone!
Things to do in St. Augustine
St. Augustine Historic District
The historic district of St. Augustine is full of small shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Peek into doorways to find craftsmen who are knowledgeable in the trades of times past. Charming, narrow streets invite shoppers, diners and star-gazers alike. St. George Street is the center of the 11 blocks referred to as the Historic District.
St. Augustine Historic District Overview and Pictures »
Castillo de San Marcos
After pirates ransacked the city, this fort was built of native coquina rock. Determined to protect the city, the fort's builders made sure that the entrance to Castillo de San Marcos was heavily fortified and surrounded by a moat. Likewise, this fort at St. Augustine was never taken by force, only by treaty. Six different flags have flown over Castillo de San Marcos including the Spanish flag and the U.S. flag twice. Historic weapons demonstrations including canon firings occur most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Castillo de San Marcos Overview and Pictures »
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is a favorite destination for tourists who love history. When you climb the 219 steps the top, you will get a spectacular view of the ocean, the inlet and downtown St. Augustine at 165 feet above sea level.
The current lighthouse was completed in 1874. A storm in 1880 took an older tower and swept it into the sea. The museum at the lighthouse offers an in-depth look at life on the coast of St. Augustine over the years, and a glimpse into the facts and myths surrounding the Lighthouse. Are there resident ghosts at the Lighthouse? Come and see!
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Pictures »
St. Augustine Attractions
With many attractions like Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum, The Alligator Farm, San Sebastian Winery, and The Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine is a perfect place to spend a vacation.
Attractions and Places to See Pictures »
The Hotel Ponce de Leon, built by Henry Flagler in 1888, was originally conceived as a luxury hotel. The Hotel was a popular southern retreat for the wealthy friends of the railroad and real estate tycoon. Flagler College, a four-year liberal arts college, now occupies this historic building.
Attractions and Places to See Pictures »
Places To Go Around St. Augustine
Fort Matanzas National Monument located on Anastasia Island which is 14 miles south of St. Augustine. The Fort was built in 1740-1742 of coquina, which is a common shell stone in the area. It was built to guard Matanzas Inlet which can be used as a back entrance to the city of St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos.
Fort Matanzas Overview and Pictures »
Marineland Dolphin Conservation Center
Marineland is a wonderful place for kids of all ages to get an up close look at Dolphins, some of the most fascinating creatures in our oceans, that is both educational and entertaining.
Marineland Overview and Pictures »
St. Augustine Beaches
Many of the best Northeast Florida beaches are a short drive from downtown St. Augustine. There you will find a short pier extending into the Atlantic Ocean, as well as fishing and surfing. While exploring St. Augustine's coast, Anastasia State Park is also worth a visit.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park welcomes thousands visitors from all over the world every year to enjoy its many natural wonders. Anastasia's four miles of beautiful beaches attract walkers, joggers, fishermen, surfers, kayakers, bicyclists and water sports enthusiasts.
More about Anastasia State Park and Pictures »
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River. It’s a little over 30 minutes south of St. Augustine. The beaches at the Park are spectacular. They are famous for the unique shoreline of coquina rock formations both on and for a short distance off shore. The gardens are well known for their, camellias, azaleas and roses and they have exotic species like bird of paradise and all are beautifully covered by an oak hammock.
More about Washington Oaks Gardens State Park and Pictures »
Vilano Beach is has many natural resources. There are nine different wildlife habitats and 125 different kinds of birds that visit, nest or live here. The beaches provide nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles, it also serves as a wintering and calving ground of the northern right whale and has several public parks
Vilano Beach Overview and Pictures »
Places to Stay
Historical St. Augustine is known for it's Bed & Breakfast options for places to stay, places like Casa De Solana and Inn at Camachee Harbor. If you'd like to stay on the bay try the Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront, if downtown is more your style the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson may be what you'll like. Renaissance Resort at the World Golf Village is right next to the St. John's County Convention Center a great place to mix business and pleasure. Some chain names there are the Ramada Historic, Best Western Spanish Quarters, La Quinta Inn & Suites St. Augustine and Quality Inn Historic are just a few. So plan your trip there are many places to stay in St. Augustine.
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Saint Augustine History
Seventy-three years after Columbus sailed to America, another Spanish admiral, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, landed in Florida and established a colony among the Timucua Indians. He named it St. Augustine on September 8, 1565. The settlement was already forty-two years old when Jamestown was founded, and it has survived until today as the oldest European town in the United States. Saint Augustine is also historically significant for being home to the first Catholic Mass in the continental United States.
In its early years, St. Augustine was a city under siege. In 1586, Sir Francis Drake and his men attacked and burned St. Augustine. In 1668, pirates plundered St. Augustine and killed most of the city's inhabitants. In 1702 and 1740, British forces from their colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia unsuccessfully attacked St. Augustine. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War and gave Florida and St. Augustine to the British. Castillo de San Marcos stood strong during the conflict and the British were unable to take it by force.
Florida was under Spanish control again from 1784 to 1821. During this time, Spain Napoleon was invading Spain, and Spain in turn was struggling to retain its colonies. As Florida became less important to Spain, it became vital to the expanding United States. In 1821, the Adams-Onis Treaty peaceably turned the Spanish colonies in Florida - including St. Augustine - over to the United States.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com