St. Augustine is a must-see if you ever visit Florida. While we have many beautiful things to see in do in my great state, none are as full of history as St. Augustine. The city was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers and is the oldest continuously occupied European-founded city in the United States.
I've been to the city a number of times as I had originally planned on completing my bachelor's degree at Flagler College in St. Augustine. Though accepted, God had other plans and re-routed me to Orlando instead. Now when I visit, it's as a tourist- there to take some lovely pictures and enjoy it's delicious food!
One of the most historical aspects of the St. Augustine landscape is the huge fort built by Spanish colonialists called the Castillo de San Marcos. It was built in 1652 to protect against invaders when St. Augustine was still ruled under the Spanish flag. The British fought for the land, winning, eventually giving it over to the Spanish again in 1783 for their efforts in establishing the area. It wasn't long until, in 1819, St. Augustine was officially given over to the U.S. For a fee, you can go explore around the old fort and imagine what it must have been like to be the first people to colonize in the state of Florida. They say the explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles was in search of the Fountain of Youth.
The old downtown area of colonial St. Augustine is quite small, but has tons to see in do in the small area it covers. The city surrounds a main center of breezy, oak-covered gardens. It's a lovely place to sit down and find rest in the hottest parts of the day. Each section of the garden is complete with an old fountain to cool down in and plenty of flora and fauna indigenous to our tropical area. I recommend you go on a weekend to find tons of young college students out selling homemade knick-knacks, hand soaps, hemp jewelry, and local art in the gardens.
One of the things I love most about St. Augustine is the architecture. Each building is, of course, heavily influenced by Spanish culture and design. When we had the chance to travel around Spain I saw many commonalities between St. Augustine and the cities abroad. But St. Augustine definitely has its own flair and feel. The hot air of the Florida beach hits you like a brick wall, and the sounds of the city remind you that you've not stepped too far out of America and get the feeling that though the Spanish established their culture in the new land, it was not without a little innovation to set it apart from home.
Flagler College was originally built as the Ponce de Leon Hotel. It was built but millionaire Henry Flagler in 1887 and was state of the art for it's time. The design of it's buildings are breath-taking and I've yet to see anything else like it in the states. Believe it or not, Thomas Edison himself wired the electricity for the old hotel and the whole place oozes with history. If you're like me, your imagination gets the best of you in buildings like this. I walk up and down the regal halls or stare up at the painted ceilings and wonder what it must have been like to be so privileged in the early 1900's as to stay here for weekend.
Now, for just under 20K a year you can walk it's regal hallways daily...as college student. In 1968 the hotel was converted to an institution of higher learning as a private liberal arts college known for its business school and its quality Deaf Studies program. Walking around campus it is unbelieveable to me that students study and eat their meals in rooms that were designed for decadent galas and 5-star meals. But, I suppose they pay the price for it. Surely "Sallie Mae" is a cursed word in those parts.
I can't wrap up any "city feature" without speaking of the local eats, of course! If you love local bakeries and mom and pop eateries this city will be your heaven. I'll recommend a couple of my favorites:
The Bunnery: (Off of St. George St. and pictured above.) This place serves up some seriously awesome baked goodies and has a lunch menu to die for. I always be sure to check out this place for lunch when I am there visiting. Their homemade soups and chicken salad are heaven, and I tried a cool shrimp salad last time that absolutely knocked my socks off.
Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille: (Located off of Avenida Menendez) This restaurant is one of five in the state of Florida. They serve up New Orleans-style seafood and cajun favorites. The restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and overlooks the port of St. Augustine with a great view of the old Spanish bridge that crosses the Indian River.
Cafe Del Hildago: (Off Hypolita St.) There are no words for this place. They serve some of the best gelato I have ever eaten; and that's from someone who has tried gelato all over Europe, people! This cafe has a wonderful atmosphere and a sincere staff. We enjoyed trying all kinds of gelato and though we didn't try their lunch or dinner, the menu looked top notch. This is a great place to cool off mid-day.
Have you ever been to St. Augustine? What were you favorite places to go?
What an amazing place! I love the architecture.ReplyDelete
I went there last Christmas when we were visiting my husband's family in Orlando. I LOVED it! I love places that are so full of history. And it is totally my dream job to work in period costume. I wish they had more places like that around the country. Places where they have mixed the old with the new, but kept the old stuff preserved. Almost like Europe.ReplyDelete
that looks like such a fun and beautiful place! never been, but i sure would like to! (i'd like to go ANYWHERE warm right now. mid 50's is NOT cutting it.)ReplyDelete
Wonderful place!! Love it. Never been, but one day. Been to FL but just for a short time. Loved this post, and yes, the architecture...if I didn't know it I'd say it was in Spain. Haha!ReplyDelete
wow!... nice photos! i love visiting old churches too.ReplyDelete
yummy pastries! which one did you try?....
it looks gorgeous!! looks like i'll just have to mosey on over and take a look myself.ReplyDelete
Amy Grace- 50's?!?! Wow, I've got 40 degrees on you! Sounds like you need a Florida vacation!ReplyDelete
Feiane- I got a blueberry muffin...very tasty. And I had a sandwich on one of their croissants once. YUM!
I have always heard that this is such a wonderful and charming place. Sure looks like it too!ReplyDelete
these photos are great, it looks so charming and lovely, i wanna go!ReplyDelete
I have never been to St. Augustine but it is now on my places to go list after seeing this fabulous photos!!ReplyDelete
Wow! What gorgeous architecture! Thanks for teaching me about St. Augustine.ReplyDelete
I really want to visit now! Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
I had no idea there were places like this in America. They never get publicity, it's all Disneyland and weekend shopping breaks in New York. This place looks magnificent.ReplyDelete
It looks like an awesome place! I'm going to Clearwater next Wednesday, but I don't think we'll be journeying anywhere but the beach. I want to go though!ReplyDelete
My girlfriend lives in St. Augustine. I've been dying for a visit and that Bunnery may be the extra push I need ;)ReplyDelete
This sounds fantastic...the only time I've ever been to florida was to go to Disney...so pathetic, I know. (c: That hotel would be the first stop on my list, it looks amazing!ReplyDelete
p.s. I *loved* your book recommendation, I'm pretty sure I'll be picking that one up!
I came over to comment on your peach story, but was distracted by your amazing photos!!ReplyDelete
Wow, amazing! So much history. If I'm ever in Florida that is definitely where I will be going.ReplyDelete
Wow - it's absolutely beautiful. I had no idea a place like this existed in Florida!ReplyDelete
What a lovely little weekend trip. We've never been, but hubby has wanted to go there every time we visit Florida. We go once a year, so hopefully we'll make it out there next time. Thanks for the recommendations.ReplyDelete
Looks like a beautiful spot! This was a very interesting post. I've never really been to the US, but I have a list of things to see if ever I visit and I'll be adding this for Florida.ReplyDelete
I was just in Florida - Sarasota to be exact, but I didn't get to St. Augustine. I think that's quite a ways. Lovely photos and I'd really like to visit sometime!ReplyDelete
wow i had no idea there was a place like that in FL!ReplyDelete
I actually had to do a triple take to make sure this was Florida!! I never knew that places that looked like this existed there! Very cool!ReplyDelete
Gorgeous pictures and architecture!ReplyDelete
p.s. I'd love to get Lanvin some day. The H&M collaboration was a good start and I'm always stalking eBay for their flats!
Chic 'n Cheap Living
oh wow - how gorgeous!! i've never been, but now i want to go!ReplyDelete
What a beautiful placeReplyDelete
Its now on my list of places i MUST visit!
Amazing pictures :o)
The Bunnery looks so good!! Of course that's the pic that caught my eye! :)ReplyDelete
Love this post -- beautiful pictures! I've actually never been to Florida before, but you can bet that this is making it on my list when I get there someday :)ReplyDelete
(PS: Your hair looks super cute!)