Summer vacation time is running quickly to a close. If you haven’t gone on any trips this summer, now might be a good time to try and squeeze in a quick tip before time runs out. Here’s a quick trip to St. Augustine that my husband and I did (although we went over Spring Break, not Summer Break).
About St. Augustine
St. Augustine is a great choice because it is easily accessible for many Floridians or even Georgians just by jumping in the car. It’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest city in the United States, which means it is rich in history. It has a little something for everyone, whether you prefer shopping, historic sites, nightlife or beach life.
We stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast called Casa de Suenos. This place was super charming and VERY close to the main historic district (without being so close as to be kept up by nighttime partiers). You get one parking spot included with your room, so we parked and then just walked to everything while we were there.
Besides being adorable and close to the action, my favorite thing about this bed and breakfast was the food! They provide a hot breakfast every morning, but also have a complimentary happy hour with not just alcohol but also snacks (one day it was veggies and dip and the other day there were pita chips and a warm cheesy dip of some type). AND they deliver complimentary dessert to your room – and if you are still out on the town when they stop by, they will pop it in your mini-fridge! Plus there are always snacks and sodas available throughout the day. And for those of your fancy drinkers out there, each room also comes with complimentary liquor – I think it’s sherry, but I can’t remember. I was pregnant at the time so …
A couple of things to note. First, I am pretty sure all the rooms have just one large bed (king or queen depending on the room). So if you are looking to bring some kiddos along, be prepared to book two rooms. Also, the first night that we were there, we noticed the MANY evening ghost tours in the area stopping near the B&B. No, the be more specific, they were all stopping at the B&B and pointing at it. So – we quickly came to find out that this place is supposed to be haunted. I cannot emphasize enough how NOT into haunted houses I am. I am a major chicken when it comes to ghosts. So I was a bit nervous the first night. But I am happy to say that we had no issues of a supernatural nature while there and I would go back again.
So first of all, remember all the food I mentioned at the bed and breakfast? That really helped keep our food expenses down, so we didn’t have to go out for breakfast or snacks much while we were there. Second, remember that I was pregnant at the time – first trimester to be exact. Having massive food aversions meant that often we picked our dining choices based on what food I could manage to even THINK about eating, rather because it was fine dining. But we were there to celebrate our anniversary, so we made sure to have one special meal planned. And there is one place you don’t want to miss in St. Augustine if you want to eat well – The Columbia Restaurant.
The original Columbia Restaurant can be found in Ybor City, but this branch of the restaurant is quite delicious (I still have not made it to the original to compare). The Columbia serves amazing Spanish/Cuban food that simply cannot be beat. Either go early to avoid the rush or make sure to make a reservation.
Places to Visit
Castillo de San Marcos: One of the top places to visit in St. Augustine is the fort – Castillo de San Marcos. I highly recommend going there. It is a great place to learn about the early history of the state, and they even do canon firing reenactments on the ramparts. Admission is pretty cheap ($15 per person when we went and kids are free).
Lightner Museum: This museum is a blast from the past. It used to be a hotel back before the turn of the century. When I walk through it, I can almost imagine that I am an heiress from a time gone by, enjoying the privileges of the good life.
Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse: Obviously as a teacher, I had to stop at this spot. Admission is extremely cheap ($5) and then you can go on a self-guided tour. Now full disclosure – the experience is a bit tacky. The one room schoolhouse has a couple rather subpar animatronics that talk about what school life would have been like back then, but I personally found it pretty entertaining as a teacher. Check out the “unruly” kid that had to sit under the stairs! Definitely worth seeing once for $5.
And here’s me posing with my new shirt and my tote back full of snacks, since I basically had to constantly nibble on tortilla chips and sip Sprite to avoid morning sickness.
Ghost Trolley Tour: Yeah, I know I said I hate ghost stuff. But I love history – and good story. And ghost tours are usually a good way to get both. We got to travel to lots of spooky locations including the Old Jail and hear some interesting stories about St. Augustine. I found the tour to be a little over-theatrical, with the guides acting out parts instead of just telling the stories, but overall, still an enjoyable tour. Next time we will probably check out a walking tour instead.
St. George Street: The main historic area is all along St. George Street. There are a wide variety of shops, museums and restaurants to check out. We spent a good amount of time looking in the shops and soaking up the general atmosphere of the area while we were there.
In addition to the places that we made it to this trip, there are many more notable locations.
- San Sebastian Winery – get free wine samples if you go on one of their tours!
- The Fountain of Youth – what better tourist stop could there be than the famous Fountain of Youth?
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum – full of curious oddities
- Train Tours – get carted around to various landmarks in the area and learn interesting facts along the way
- Medieval Torture Museum – check out some of twisted torture implements
- Potter’s Wax Museum – also a Native American chief is buried under the floor boards, so of course the place is rumored to be haunted
- And lots, lots more