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Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

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Panama City, Panama
posts: 5,790
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Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

I copied and pasted a great deal of this post from Mahoney's original post that had over 100 additions/bumps, so decided while I am waiting for laundry to dry to update it a little. I have also added some favorites of mine that weren't listed. Hopefully we can let his older List of Things to see and Do be replaced with this one which incorporates all of what he posted and more! Enjoy !

Gotta do the Flagler College Tour:. This 45 minute guided tour should really be called Ponce de Leon Hotel tour. Built by Henry Flagler, oil and railroad magnate extraordinaire, the 1887 structure is still one of the best examples anywhere of Spanish Renaissance architecture. The Tours which are daily at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM (except around Christmas time when tours are every hour on the hour) offers a glimpse of the grandeur that was the Hotel. Yes, it does house some of the college, but emphasizes stories and pictures of the Flagler era. The Dining Hall has a vaulted ceiling 35 feet in height. The tables and handcarved chairs were imported from Austria and many are the original ones that filled the room when the hotel first opened (the rest of them are made to look like them but you cannot tell the originals from the imposters). Dramatic ceiling murals depict Spanish ships, nautical creatures, zodiac signs and the four seasons. Encircling the room are 100 gold lion's heads with lights shining out of their mouths from the original hotel. It is a short, wonderful guided tour and It is very cheap ($5.00 a piece or so--one of the best bangs for your buck in the Old City) Look in the coupon books you will see all over St. Augustine for a dollar off the inexpensive entrance fee. It is a wonderful tour! You don't want to miss it!

Lightner Museum - right across the street from Flagler College in the heart of the walking historic district - opened its doors in 1880's as another one of Flagler's hotels, Hotel Alcazar, with what was at the time the largest indoor swimming pool in the world! Its architecture is amazing. The building features soaring ceilings, and enough marble to refill a quarry.. More than 20,000 items are on display from a collection of Chicago's publisher Otto C. Lightner who bought the hotel and later give it to the city.

In the Lightner Museum, do eat lunch in the wonderful Alcazar Cafe (in the deep end of the drained swimming pool). Wonderful food and such ambiance..

St. Augustine's Villa Zorayda is located at 83 King Street across from Flagler College you can't miss it - it looks like a red castle! Personal Guided tours from 10:00 AM - last one 4:30 PM. and also on-your-own guided tours with ear phones - very cool. The tours are about 45 minutes. I love this place and it is a favorite of mine in the Old City! (904) 829-9887 Website: http://www.villazorayda.com Walking into the longtime tourist attraction is a bit like entering a scene from the Arabian Nights, designed to look like a portion of the fabulous Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. The villa reopened in time for the 125th anniversary of its construction by Bostonian Franklin W. Smith. Constructed in 1883, the house was a winter home to Franklin and his wife, Laura, and then the Zorayda Club. It was also a gambling casino until 1925 when Florida outlawed gambling. The castle features what is deemed the Oldest Rug in the World a 2,400-year-old Egyptian rug woven from cat hairs. You know the Egyptians revered cats! . Rosewood, mother of pearl, sandlewood, brass and soapstone are among the materials used in the furniture within. Brass fixtures hang in every room. Peacock brass lamps, a tree of glass, statues, paintings and Flemish, Chinese, Moorish, Italian, English and Burmese furniture are scattered throughout the house. Tiled floors, carvings and arches reflect the influence of the Alhambra. I love the charm of this place!

The Oldest House Museum complex on St. Franics Street dates back to 1727, but the site has been occupied since the 1600's. Lots

of history to see and read about here.

Father O'Reilly's Museum (one of the oldest buildings in Florida) on Aviles Street (the Oldest

Street in the U.S.) is FREE also. It dates from the- Colonial Period -go upstairs and see our "Hurricane Lady" statue there(circa 1600's) and hear her magnificent story. Many Minorcan decendants and other residents believe she (the 4' statue) is what keeps St. Augustine safe from Hurricanes. She is beautiful (and free admission to this wonderful little museum).

I also love Dow Museum of Historic Homes (on the block behind the Lightner Museum)-nine houses built from 1790's to 1910 you can tour on your own - and the grounds are beautiful too. Each home has the furniture; appliances for that particular era. Very peaceful there. Formerly called St. Augustine Village.

Stroll down St. George Street - many people like the many shops there and just the ambiance.

Truly the Pena Peck house on St.George Street is just as old as the oldest house museum and it is FREE admission. Owned by the city

and run by volunteers, it has wonderful history. It housed the original Spanish Royal Treasurer in 1750 and the home of two British govenors of Florida in the late 1700's.

On St. George Street also there is the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum, a living history museum where it is always 1740 and renactor guides recreate lifestyle in the 18th century.

FREE At the end of St. George Street near the City Gates there is the Greek Orthodox shrine -St. Pothios - tells the journey of the first Greek settlers-coming over as indentured servants to Florida and setting here. Many icons, murals very spiritual place.

Scenic Cruise aboard the Victory III--a fun and inexpensive way to see St Augustine from the Matanzas River and always site dolphins - can sit insie when weather is cold and outside also. Can buy

refreshments on board - narrated history tour.

Schooner Freedom sails afternoon & evening, snacks, wine, beer included for the 2 hour sails. - great fun too. Casual, nice staff and owners.

From capnconrads post and I agree - the Fort is one of my favorite places also. It is awesome ! Well if you're visiting for the first time I highly recommend the Castillo San Marcos (disclaimer: I volunteer there when I can). Also, there are various colonial re-enactments going on, so check the events calendar at www.visitoldcity.com, it's the re-enactors that make the history feel more alive (disclaimer #2: I'm a re-enactor). Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we fire black powder cannons at the fort at 1030, 1130, 130 230 and 330. The Fort is the city's largest landmark; never taken in battle. Construction of the coquina fort began in 1672.

Also the great Mission Nombre de Dios (where the great cross is on the salt marsh) on San Marco - free admission to walk over to it. It is where the first Mass was said in America in 1565 - and looks over the salt marsh and I find it very peaceful and visit it often.

Close by but have to drive to from the Old City over the bridge:

The Alligator Farm, which also has monkeys and a bird rookery. It is a great place for young and old alike!

Fort Matanzas is a Spanish "outlook" fort that was built between 1740 & 1742 on Anastasia island about 16 miles down A1A south near Crescent Beach. There is no admission charge for the site, the eight minute video or the five minute boat ride to the fort. It is an "interactive fort" where one is allowed to climb up to the roof on a wooden ladder so children of all ages love it. Oooh, and on the first Saturday of the month we fire cannons/muskets at Fort Matanzas (tour is free, donation requested to help us buy more black powder...our supplies from Spain are slow in coming!), per Cap'n.. Across the highway from Ft. Matanzas is an isolated beach with drive-on access. If parking in the beach lot, be sure not to leave any valuables within view in your car...

19th century St. Augustine Lighthouse-climb to the top for an amazing vista of the city and the beach.

Anastasia State Park--forget the public beaches and pay five bucks to go to the state park. No driving is allowed on the beach in the park, so it's just you plus water, sand, and sun. There's a nice little snack bar and store, plus bike, windsurfer, and kayak rentals.

I am sure others can add their favs; but there are mine and where I take my friends (young and old) when they visit. Have fun!

76 replies to this topic
Greenville, SC
posts: 225
reviews: 41
61. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Great posts! Where would you stay - La Fiesta Beachfront Resort or La Quinta by the I-95 and the outlets? La Quinta is way cheaper and we collect their travel points, but oceanfront would be nice for relaxing evening walks on the beach. I'm traveling with my husband and our 15 year old daughter...

Thanks,

Susan

Winter Haven...
posts: 3,041
reviews: 1
62. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Susan -

The area out near I-95 is very quiet without many restaurants. It is near the outlet centers and is about 5 miles from World Golf Village.

La Fiesta would be about equidistant from downtown but it will be action central during the summer months. It is right on the beach and is within walking distance of several restaurants. You will have to go over a bridge to get into town.

It all comes down to what you are looking for.

Edited: 8:07 am, June 13, 2013
East Palatka...
posts: 1
reviews: 69
63. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Thank you so much for this post.

st augustine, fl
Destination Expert
for Saint Augustine
posts: 1,256
reviews: 65
64. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

bump

Wisconsin
posts: 3,600
reviews: 137
65. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

I love it! I'm still signed into this thread so when there's activity I get an e-mail and an instant happy memory of our vacation in your lovely city and the nice people in your forum. Thanks Cap'n for bumping. p.s. I never did get through the book I bought about the history of St. Augustine. Your history is fascinating, sadly, the book doesn't do it justice. I've got to check my library for more.

So my contribution would be: Get familiar with the area and the history to truly appreciate how special the city is before you come.

MA
posts: 14
reviews: 15
66. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

For other ideas on what to do you could check out http://localsguidesa.com/

Saint Augustine...
posts: 1
67. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Don't forget Historic AVILES STREET....the oldest street in the city and in the USA. This bricked street is lined with art galleries and side walk cafes. You will feel Olde World charm, very European in character and a nice change of pace from the t-shirt shops on St. George Street.

St. Augustine, FL
Destination Expert
for Saint Augustine
posts: 593
reviews: 84
68. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Definitely Aviles Street!! Thanks for the update!

MA
posts: 14
reviews: 15
69. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Excellent review of things to do in downtown St Augustine. You could also check out http://localsguidesa.com/ for more information on things to do and current happenings.

Southampton, United...
posts: 42
70. Re: Things to do and see in the Old City!!!!!!!

Family and I are visiting orlando in May and apart from the theme parks I am really looking forward to spending a day in st augustine. Is it easy to find everything? Is it quite close together as we want to go to the alligator park as well as the old town etc.

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