Old Town Escape: St. Augustine, Florida

As the temperature rises, the mind drifts to thoughts of relaxing days by the sea: white sand between your toes, a soothing lullaby created by the gentle surf, and calm azure blue water that seems to stretch out endlessly before you. you. The lure of the ocean is universal and beach vacations have been a favorite of travelers for generations. As pristine beaches become harder to find, St. Augustine remains utterly beloved by travelers for one very simple reason: a sense of renewal and peace is felt here that can’t be found anywhere else.

San Agustín was discovered in 1513 when Juan Ponce de León, sailing along the Atlantic coast in search of the fabled fountain of youth, landed somewhere nearby and claimed the continent for Spain. Nicknamed “The Old Town,” it is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States; that’s right, it was established before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and it remains one of America’s most charming and picturesque seaside towns. In addition to its historical ties to the Spanish Empire, the city also boasts many remnants of the Flagler Era, when Henry Flagler’s vision of an upscale resort community added marinas, golf courses, and luxury hotels to the landscape at the turn of the century. XIX.

Each day, the area’s charming historic district, with its cobblestone streets and quaint cafes, bars, unique shops, and bed-and-breakfast inns, comes alive with locals and tourists alike heading out on foot to explore the many sights located throughout. St. Augustine. Five you won’t want to miss are:

* Castillo de San Marcos, a national monument with an elaborate double drawbridge entrance, has been both a mighty fortress and a fearsome prison. An outstanding reminder of the power and strength of the early Spanish empire in the New World, he is commonly known as “El Fuerte”. Castillo de San Marcos is made entirely of coquina, a virtually indestructible limestone composed 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 hurricanes.

* The Casa Monica is once again an iconic luxury hotel, blending contemporary delights with a legendary past. Built in 1888 and restored in 1999, the hotel offers visitors a Spanish-inspired décor. Both elegant and opulent, the hotel surrounds guests with jewel-toned velvet, intricate tapestries, and luminous chandeliers.

* Colonial Spanish Quarter, a living museum where costumed performers relive a time when St. Augustine was a remote outpost in the Spanish Empire, will appeal to young and old alike. Visitors experience how families lived, how they grew and cooked their food, and how they cared for their livestock at 1740 St. Augustine.

* The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, built in 1874 and still in use by the US Coast Guard, preserves the history of the St. Augustine Light Station and its associated maritime, coastal, and social history. Those who dare to climb the 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse are rewarded with a spectacular 360-degree view of downtown St. Augustine and the beach areas.

* The Fountain of Youth, where Ponce de León used stone markers to draw a cross whose center marked what he believed to be its exact location. The spring is still flowing, and whether seeking relief from the Florida heat or the secret of eternal youth, visitors are invited to sample the cool waters. The grounds also include a village that was home to the Timucua Indians for more than 1,500 years, a planetarium where visitors travel through the night sky, and trails that visitors can stroll along while examining native plants and animals. historical artifacts along the way.

In addition to the charming boardwalk that reflects the glories of Imperial Spain, St. Augustine has something for every member of your family. Kids will enjoy the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, the only place in the world where 23 species of crocodiles can be seen. Historical tours of the Old City are available in a wide variety of forms. Visitors can choose to watch the world go by from a helicopter, open cart or horse-drawn carriage. If you’re looking for something unique, those interested in the paranormal can even take a ghost tour of the city’s historic attractions and cemeteries in an authentic hearse.

For help planning a vacation to the St. Augustine area, contact the St. Augustine Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 653-2489 or visit them on the web at http://www.visitoldcity.com.

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