Goodness, I feel like I’ve made a discovery when recently traveling to St. Augustine, Florida. It is beautiful, educational, historical, and mesmerizing. I had to continue to remind myself that I was in the USA.
This European-looking city has been home to natives and foreigners, colonials and pilgrims, soldiers and prisoners. St. Augustine boasts attractions like military forts, stately castles, and Gilded Age hotels. Visitors can explore a spiraling lighthouse, scenic nature trails, and tranquil beaches. Hear the sounds of the city, from horse-drawn carriages on brick-paved streets to the roar of cannon fire.
This isn’t your average beach town. In St. Augustine, you walk the narrow brick streets; you will find historic sites all around downtown. Every corner is rich with a long history. We climbed the steps of the lighthouse, took a sip from the fountain of youth, and learned of the vast history of the oldest street in the oldest city in the nation. The heritage and culture of the old city are still intriguing and deeply relevant.
My favorite was Flagler College. It’s absolutely a show-stopper. This was one of millionaire Henry Flagler’s most opulent Gilded Age hotels. It’s now a private four-year college. It started as the grand Ponce de Leon Hotel, built in 1887, and is listed as a National Historic landmark. Legacy Tours offers tours of this architectural masterpiece. Presidents, dignitaries, royalty, and celebrities once walked the halls of this magnificent hotel. It’s also home to the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass windows in the world. It’s truly something to see.
While staying in the nation’s oldest city, you will have amazing lodging choices. Bed and breakfasts in St. Augustine provide a uniquely charming atmosphere. The numerous historic accommodations are nestled within the city’s historic district and St. Augustine’s pristine beaches. It’s hard to imagine a hotel with a richer, and more historically relevant setting than The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens in St. Augustine. It’s fabulous and so unique. Part contemporary hotel, part historic inn, The Collector is the best of both worlds, all wrapped up in a storied landmark that inspired some of history’s most admired thinkers, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Sinclair Lewis. It’s won many awards and is featured in many national magazines like Southern Living.
The culinary scene here is also fantastic. We really enjoyed The Columbia Restaurant! It offers award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine. This is one of St. Augustine’s larger restaurants. Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez Sr. founded the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Florida, in 1905. It’s now Florida’s oldest restaurant.
Michael’s is one of St. Augustine’s finest restaurants. Goodness, what a treat it was to dine here. It’s elegant dining in a historic St. Augustine building. Chef and owner Michael Lugo has created an amazing menu that pays homage to Spanish and European influences. They also have an extensive 400-label wine selection.
This is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America since 1565. St. Augustine has always been a sought-after treasure and is certainly worthy of being discovered by you!