Florida Guide > Other Florida
St Augustine - places to visit
You will have read the history of St Augustine now it’s time to visit those places of interest and make the history come to life - and it does.
To undertake the walking tour of the old city can take 1 - 2 hours depending on your pace and how many times you stop to visit the listed sites...or for ice cream! Even if you decide not to visit all the listed sites take time to read the plaques at those sites which give a wealth of information of the history of the site or building and makes the tour that much more interesting.
The best place to park your car is at the Visitor Information Centre in front of the Castillo de San Marcos. St Augustine is undergoing extensive renovations and even though much has been completed vehicles are not permitted in many areas.
Before embarking on your tour take time to go into the Visitors Information Centre and speak to the knowledgeable staff and pick up your copy of the city map and explanations of the sights.
The trolley or train tours are a great way of getting your bearings before venturing out on your own and also a narrative from professionals will bring the guide books to life.
Once you start the tour what becomes apparent very quickly is the influence of the many nations that have shaped St Augustine - the Timucan Indians, the Spanish and the British and in the ‘living history’ attractions people go about their daily lives as though its still the 17th or 18th century.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument must be the most famous of St Augustine’s attractions, it is the oldest masonry fort in the nation dating back to 1672. You will need at least an hour here to explore the rambling ramparts, seeing exhibits, chatting to the costumed characters and taking photos from the highest towers.
Colonial Spanish Quarter there’s a wealth of history from the Government House Museum which takes you through the history of the city with some 500 exhibits and which houses American Indian artefacts, gold and silver from Spanish shipwrecks and presentations that bring the history to life. When you go to the Spanish Quarter you will be enthralled at the ‘townspeople’ dressed in authentic costumes who go about their daily lives as blacksmiths, soldiers, carpenters, gardeners, housewife’s and merchants. They just love to talk about their lives and fears of hunger, yellow fever, malaria, yet another attack on the city and how homesick they are for their native land.
The Oldest House is another favourite and dates back to the early 1600’s . The house is furnished to represent the differing nationalities of the owners since the house was built.
Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is a firm favourite with young and old alike and was also used as a guardhouse during the Seminole Wars. Just here is where the more macabre can join the Ghostly Experience Walking Tour a ninety minute tour suitable for kids and grammas too! Just around the corner is the best ice cream shop for miles - go on indulge youself!
The Oldest Store Museum dates back to the early 1800’s and its original wooden shelves are crammed with every type of potion and everything from apple peelers to antique signs. Glass cabinets house strange and scary looking medical utensils.
The Old Jail houses a collection of weapons and display that depict prison life in early St Augustine. Newspaper articles and photos illustrate the history of the jail. It is also possible o tour the families living quarters which are housed in the same building.
The Memorial Presbyterian Church is a magnificent Venetian Renaissance structure and was built by a grief stricken Henry Flagler as a memorial to his daughter, Jennie, who had died giving birth to his first grandchild. The workers toiled around the clock to finish the structure in one year and it opened on the first anniversary of her death. The Flagler family are all buried here.
There are so many more buildings, churches and cemeteries that have played a huge part in St Augustine’s history that I have not been able to mention here - all are worthy of a visit.
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