Florida Guide > Places to Visit
Last year we decided to spend three days visiting St Augustine and I can
honestly say that it was a wonderful experience.
We did not go by the quick route but headed for 1A1 and took the coast road
north. We even went onto the beach at Daytona as soon as we could and drove
north till we had to get back on the road. We had a 4x4 but if you have a
ordinary car don't worry as the section that you drive on is quite hard and
80% of the other cars were just standard models.
We stayed at a 9 bedroom B&B that dated back, in parts, to the mid 1800's and
was really great. If you do get a chance to go the slight extra cost over one
of the motels on the edge of town is worth the difference. The old town area
is full of interesting buildings and one of the things that is worth doing is
to take the 'Walking ghost tour'. These tours start at dusk with everyone
being giving a lantern and the tour guide is dressed in period costume. The
tour takes about 2 hours with stops at all of the interesting places. While
some of the stories were very good they were just that. However there were
some cases that had being witnessed by lots of people and were very
interesting. I won't spoil it in case any of you take the tour.
St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European
origin in the United States and was founded on September 8th 1565. It took its
name from the fact that land was first sited on the feast day of Saint
Augustine, August 28th. This first landing was forty two years before the
English colonized Jamestown and fifty five years before the Pilgrims landed at
Plymouth Rock. Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles the leader of the trip, claimed
Florida for the Spanish Crown and named it Florida after the Easter season,
known in Spanish as PASCUA FLORIDA. The large fort built on the site, The
Castillo de San Marcos, has almost finished it's restoration and offers a good
view of what life was like at the time. About half a mile up the coast from
the fort you will find a large stainless steel cross by the water with is
meant to show the place where Ponce de Leon landed and the held the first Mass
on the mainland.
We spend a day looking around the old town and all the museums that were once
the homes of the wealthy. Henry Flagler, a former partner of John D.
Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company created in St. Augustine a winter
resort for wealthy Americans. He owned a railroad company that linked St.
Augustine with cities along the east coast. In 1887, his company began
construction of two large and ornate hotels and a year later added a third
that had been planned and begun by another developer.
You should also take a river trip and see the 'Bridge of Lions' and the
Castillo from the water. these trips take you out to the mouth of the harbour
and can offer a couple of hours of relaxation in the afternoon after a bust
day walking round the town. If your lucky while your waiting for the trip to
start you will get a group of Manatees by the boat. It seems that while they
can live in either salt or fresh water they prefer fresh. So when the crews
see them they put a hose over the side into the water and they come and swim
in it. I don't know who's got who conditioned but it happens quite often
according to the crew. We got some great pictures even though you get closer
in Sea World.
I almost forgot the light show they put on in December if you happen to be in
Florida at that time of the year, it is almost as good as the some of the
parks as you drive around the area. However be prepared for crowds as it's
This is definitely not a day trip but is well worth the effort.
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Page added on: 20 July 2004
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