Historic St. Augustine is a treasure trove of things to see and do. History lovers have remarkably preserved historical sites to explore. Castillo de San Marco, a Spanish fortification completed in 1695, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological site, documenting the presence of indigenous people and the first Spanish settlement, and Mission Nombre de Dios, the first landing place of Spanish explorers in 1565, are fascinating insights into the discovery of America. Historic house museums are detailed time-travels through the fledgling settlement during Spanish and British occupations of the 1700s. The opulence of America’s Gilded Age is documented in Henry Flagler’s palatial hotels and ornate house museums.
The oldest city in North America fits snugly in a confluence of salt-water waterways from the north, south and west, and is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands on the east. There are many ways to explore the salt water waterways and estuaries snaking through tidal salt marshes, conservation areas, state parks, and aquatic preserves which protect the unique, fragile ecosystem of “Old Florida.” On the Atlantic Ocean side, long stretches of white sandy beaches offer choices for everyone.
Quaint St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, has a lot going on – historic sites, remarkable architecture, old world charm, gorgeous nature preserves teeming with wildlife, beautiful beaches, diverse restaurant choices, and a booming craft beverage scene. Here’s how to experience it all in 2 days:
Understanding the layered history of tiny, quaint St. Augustine can be challenging because most of the early American history we learn in school focuses on the original 13 British colonies. Historically, what makes early St. Augustine and the larger Florida territory so intriguing is the strong influence of Spain which first discovered, laid claim to, and settled in the area. To make the most of a St. Augustine visit, here are some things to know…
This small, old-fashioned city with an ancient feel was founded over 450 years ago. Settled by Spaniards in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest, permanently occupied European settlement in America. While the Spanish influence is felt throughout the Old City, it was not always under Spanish rule. St. Augustine’s strategic location made it a target for occupation by force or treaty, which happened three times before it became part of the U.S. in 1821. In the 1880s, a take-over of a different kind happened. It became a fabulous Gilded Age resort town created by Standard Oil and railroad magnate Henry Flagler. St. Augustine is a historic gem with many popular sites and museums to visit, rain or shine.