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Exploring St. Augustine

Spring break is just around the corner, so what better time to take the family to one of Florida’s most popular destinations: St. Augustine. Since 1565, it is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. With that comes an abundance of history, and it is everywhere you look. Ponce De Leon greets you downtown, standing tall, or rather short, over the city he founded. The statue is life-size atop its pillar, and at only four feet eleven inches, it reflects the stature of the man who is credited as the first European to reach Florida in 1513.

The anchor of the downtown waterfront is the Castillo de San Marcos, now a National Monument. With its impressive size, it holds the title of being the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Completed in 1695, it is made of coquina, or “rock shell,” and has historical reenactments, cannon fire, and a bevy of stories to accompany its picturesque views. Within walking distance is “Old Town,” with its brick-lined streets and an endless array of quaint shops, restaurants and historical plaques. Avila Street holds the award for the oldest street in America, while another impressive roadway to see is the live oak canopy that shrouds Magnolia Avenue. Take a photo in the tree lined tunnel to wow your family and friends. If you have pirate lovers amongst you, get their inner Arghhh going with a stop at the Pirate Museum. Home to one of only two Jolly Roger flags left in existence, it also holds Captain Kidd’s pirate chest and even pays tribute to Hollywood’s pirate plunderers like Captain Jack Sparrow. Just a few minutes away is the ever-famous and always sought-after Fountain of Youth. Pay a visit to this landmark and sip some of the water that was once believed to provide eternal youth. You can even take home a glass bottle of it for a few dollars and be the judge if it lives up to its namesake. St. Augustine Alligator Farm is home to an albino gator, and the world’s largest once called it home. Looking to get your feet off the ground? Take a zipline tour over the grounds and see it from a different perspective. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has a substantial museum full of oddities that is worth a visit. History buffs and Catholics may want to take a trip to the location of the oldest Catholic settlement in what is now the present-day U.S., marked by a 200-foot-tall cross standing guard over the Matanzas River. If you are looking to relax and unwind, Anastasia State Park has miles of white sand beaches, hiking trails, and plenty of good kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities.

Surfers and skimboarders will love the waves the East Coast has to offer. For views that seemingly go on forever, visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and climb its 219 steps to stand atop the 165-foot-tall tower. With its black and white spirals and red top, it’s hard to miss this haunted landmark. Doubt the haunted lore? Just ask some of the groundskeepers about their experiences over the years. Looking for more frightful fun? Take one of the many haunted walking tours offered when the sun goes down. If you don’t have a ton of time to take everything in, hop aboard the Old Towne Trolley to get the abridged version of most of what the city has to offer.

St. Augustine is a destination that shouldn’t be missed by any Floridian. Its scenery coupled with history puts it on the list of top spots to visit in the Sunshine State. This East Coast gem has family-friendly fun and something to offer for old and young alike. Check it off of your Florida bucket list.

Head to to learn more about all this city has to offer.



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