Interested in Saint Augustine?
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This page is a compilation of suggestions from the St. Augustine Forums:
Basics: There are lots and lots of parking lots. You can meander in your car among the vehicle and pedestrian crowded streets looking for a spot or go to the main parking garage (with 100's of spaces) at the visitor centor off of Castillo Drive. All the parking lots we saw charged the same flat $10 rate. St. Augustine is really set up for tourism and families with public restrooms every couple of blocks and a large playground for children to let off steam near the main visitors centers. There are also restaurants to satisfy all needs ranging from coffee and ice cream shops to multi-star "table clothe" restaurants. Most of the sights are easily walkable but you can also buy a ticket on one of 2 hop-on hop-off trams.
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. Tours are offered daily at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM (except around Christmas time when tours are every hour on the hour) and offer a glimpse of the grandeur that was the Hotel. Look in the coupon books you will see all over St. Augustine for a dollar off the inexpensive entrance fee. More detail is available in this St. Augustine forums post.
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.
Eat lunch in the wonderful Alcazar Cafe (in the deep end of the drained swimming pool). Wonderful food and such ambiance..
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. (904) 829-9887 Website: http://www.villazorayda.com. More info in the same St. Augustine forums post.
The Oldest House Museum complex on St. Franics Street dates back to 1727, but the site has been occupied since the 1600's. Lotsof history to see and read about here.
Father O'Reilly's Museum (one of the oldest buildings in Florida) on Aviles Street (the OldestStreet in the U.S.) is FREE also. It dates from the- Colonial Period -go upstairs and see "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).
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.
St. George Street - many people like the many shops there and just the ambiance.
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.
Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum, a living history museum where it is always 1740 and renactor guides recreate lifestyle in the 18th century.
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.
Schooner Freedom sails afternoon & evening, snacks, wine, beer included for the 2 hour sails. - great fun too. Casual, nice staff and owners.
Castillo San Marcos The Fort is the city's largest landmark; never taken in battle. Construction of the coquina fort began in 1672. Also, there are various colonial re-enactments going on, so check the events calendar at www.visitoldcity.com.
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.
Close by, but you will 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. Across the highway 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...
St. Augustine Lighthouse climb to the top for an amazing vista of the city and the beach. Visit the museum to see shipwreck artifacts and take a behind the scenes tour to go inside the labs with maritime archaeologists. You can also check out the night time Dark of the Moon tour, which is the only ghost tour that actually gets you inside the Lighthouse.
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.