an empty and peaceful street ealry in the morning

Travel with Terri and Visit St. Augustine

Why in the world has it taken me so long to visit our nation’s oldest city? I kept asking myself this question because I was in awe of St. Augustine, Florida.

It has such unique scenery and rich history that truly sets it apart from any other city in America. Visitors can see why when they stroll along the ancient brick-lined streets and enjoy the city’s European feel and flavor. Experience all this with centuries-old buildings, horse-drawn carriages, hidden courtyards, and so much more. St. Augustine has plenty of history to explore — more than 450 years of it!

 One treasure to visit is the Lightner Museum. This place is awesome as it offers visitors an immersive experience of art, architecture, and history. The museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel. Built in 1888 by Henry Flagler, the Alcazar was the railroad magnate’s second grand hotel in St. Augustine. The Spanish Renaissance Revival hotel hosted thousands of guests who enjoyed its remarkable recreation facilities — including the world’s largest swimming pool, Turkish and Russian steam baths, tennis courts, and a gymnasium.

Across the street is the historic Flagler College, once the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, also built by Henry Flagler. To call this place extravagant is an understatement. It showcases the architectural heritage and fascinating history of this nationally designated historic landmark building that Flagler built in 1887. Presidents, dignitaries, royalty, and the upper class walked the halls of this magnificent hotel during its heyday. The Ponce de Leon is also home to the largest collection of original Tiffany stained glass windows. There are more than 79 windows decorating the dining hall, which is included in the tour.  Nothing can compete with seeing this building in person. It’s hard to believe this is now a college because it looks more like a palace.

From romantic dining, gourmet dinners prepared by five-star chefs, and award-winning menus, St. Augustine’s culinary scene offers visitors refined dining options. Two restaurants not to be missed are Michael’s, a fine dining steakhouse with a 400-label wine selection, and the Columbia Restaurant, which features Spanish and Cuban Cuisine.

St. Augustine has an enormous selection of beautiful bed and breakfasts that provide a uniquely charming atmosphere for romantic vacations. We stayed at the Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens, and I cannot recommend it enough! This adult-only inn combines modern amenities, upscale services, and bed and breakfast charm, providing accommodations unlike any other in the city. This upscale inn includes nine different historic structures dating back to 1790. The 2022 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards listed the Collector as one of The Five Best Resort Hotels in Florida.

St. Augustine is full of timeless stories of other eras to discover. The centuries-old history, architecture, accommodations, activities, culture, and cuisine is so European that I honestly had to keep reminding myself that I was in America – actually, the oldest city in the USA!

Follow Terri on social media @Travel with Terri.

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