I spent day 172 of the Nowhere To Be Project in St. Augustine, Florida. As a Florida native, I’ve visited St. Augustine countless times. Every Florida student visits this historic corner at least once in elementary school, so I came as a kid and then chaperoned my own kids as they visited the oldest wooden schoolhouse (circa 1716) in the country. I’ve also come to town for the night-life in the past, taking advantage of several of the many quaint bed and breakfasts offered in the town for an overnight. Today’s visit was more limited as I was just passing through, but decided to stop and take a stroll through time once again.
St. Augustine is about 90 minutes north of Orlando and is just 45 minutes south of Jacksonville. Coming on a Sunday morning no doubt made parking a bit easier. It also meant that fewer people were buzzing about this tourist mecca (another win). In my opinion, the highlights of St. Augustine include Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States (circa 1672), the Huguenot cemetery which is directly across the street from the fort, the beautiful Memorial Presbyterian Church (currently undergoing extensive renovations post hurricane) and the lovely Spanish architecture that remains prevalent throughout the town. If shopping is your game, you’ll find unique (but mostly touristy) shops in the Colonial Corner. If you’re looking for a great meal to match the Spanish-vibe of St. Augustine, head directly to Columbia, a staple in Florida since 1905. If you’re visiting St. Augustine anytime between April and November, don’t count on Ponce de León’s fabled fountain of youth to keep you cool as temperatures are sweltering and everything here is open-air. Instead, head over the drawbridge to cool off on scenic Anastasia Island. You’ll be so glad you did and I’m willing to bet that your time there will be the highlight of your visit to St. Augustine!
Native Floridian’s Tip for Beating the Heat: I always pack a portable insulated lunch sack with frozen washcloths in an effort to beat the heat while playing tourist in my home state.