Florida Guide > Travelling
If you haven' t been to visit the historic City of St. Augustine, it's well worth trying to make the time on your next trip. It's about a 90 min drive from the Orlando area so it can be done in a day if you get an early start, but to do it justice it is really worth at least an overnight stay. Like a lot of places in Florida, it has a beach area and town area which are both separate. It's lovely to visit a town where you can park up the car and walk around the attractions and explore the many interesting back streets, shops and galleries.
However, a great way to see the sights is to ride the trolley/train. It's a great way to get your bearings and hear the history of the city. You can ride it all the way round or hop-on and off at the various stops.
The city was founded in 1565 when Spaniard Ponce De Leon arrived and named the land `La Florida` (Land of the Flowers). Visit the visitor's centre to hear and see the story of ‘La Florida’ as ‘discovered’ by the Spanish and it changes from Spanish to English and back again into Spanish hands before being eventually absorbed into the United States in the 1800’s. (I do believe that at some point we swapped it for Gibralter! )
The list of attractions must start with the impressive Castillo de San Marcos. This is the Spanish fortress at the edge of the St. Augustine inlet which has protected the City against raiders for centuries. It is one of the many things you can see which are built from coquina (a natural sea-shell and coral material )
Back in the city centre stroll down St. Georges Street. Here you will find the tourist shops, the oldest school etc. Have a toffee apple or an ice cream at Kilwins.
Follow this street to the end, turn right and make your way Flagler College. This was originally Henry Flagler’s Ponce de Leon Hotel and is the reason for St. Augustine becoming the winter destination of the wealthy northerners in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This, in turn allowed Flagler to extend his railroad which opened up and developed the whole of Florida to tourism. You can take a tour of this elegant building which contains wonderful stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Over the road from Flagler College is another of Flagler’s early hotels. The Hotel Alcazar built in 1888 -which is now the Lichtner Museum.
and the renovated Casa Monica Hotel (another of Flaglers hotels).
At St. George Street and Bridge Street you will find the “Old St. Augustine Village”. This is a collection of nine old houses, now a living museum of historic life. Characters dressed in period costume will engage you in conversation, explain to you how they live, work, go to school and entertain themselves. Craftsmen may be working in the shaded outdoor areas.
The “Oldest House” can also be found in this same area along with quaint houses and gardens in the residential area.
Visit the marina or restaurants near to the Bridge of Lions. This bridge spans the Intracoastal waterway between the City of St. Augustine and St. Augustine beaches. Have a game of crazy golf or If you fancy a boat tour there are plenty to choose from here.
The only time you will need to use your car will be to visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse. There is a fantastic view from the top if you`re fit enough for the climb. The lighthouse museum also tells the story of how lighthouse men used to live and work. Carry on to the beach and enjoy a drink in one of the beach bars.
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