Last updated on September 22nd, 2023 at 08:05 pm
St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States, when it was founded by the Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. It is definitely worth a visit to the historic district to learn more about the history of the city beginning with the Timucuans (Native Americans), Spanish settlers, British soldiers and the occasional pirate to eccentric 18th century millionaires.
St Augustine KOA
In my opinion, the best place to stay is at the St Augustine KOA because it is located close to everything and the Old Town Trolley has a pickup right out front.
We enjoy kicking off a visit by taking an Old Town trolley tour. Each tour guide adds its own flavor, so you never get the same tour twice! The trolley is a great way to get around town as there are 23 stops and you can hop on and off for 3 days per ticket. The ticket also includes free admission to the St. Augustine History Museum, as well as a free shuttle to the Alligator Farm, Lighthouse, and Beach. For an additional fee, you can also join the Ghosts and Graveyards tour in the evening. This is a lot of fun and provides additional stories of the city.
Castillo De San Marcos – National Monument
One of the most significant historical structures in St. Augustine, Castillo de San Marcos is an awe-inspiring sight perched on the coast of the city. This massive fort was constructed by the Spanish between the years 1672 and 1695 and is the oldest masonry fortress in the United States. Constructed out of coquina, a form of limestone that was common in the area, the Castillo was used to protect the city from foreign invasions by sea. We love to wander through the fort, walk through the hallways, and see the walls that withstood many battles. It is less crowded during the week, but if you’ve never been you may want to bite the bullet and go on the weekend to see the canon firings and historical re-enactments.
The Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel built by Henry Morrison Flagler in 1888. At its peak in the 1890s, more than 25,000 guests visited during the winter seasons and countless more used the recreational facilities of the casino. It had the world’s largest indoor swimming pool at the time, a grand ballroom, sulfur baths, a steam room, a massage parlor, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, archery ranges, tennis courts, and a bicycle academy. Today the museum has an eclectic collection that ranges from a mummy, shrunken heads, human hair art, cigar labels, buttons, and salt and pepper shakers. It also has more traditional decorative arts such as Tiffany glass, cut glass, porcelain, fine art paintings, furniture and sculpture.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
I just love lighthouses and this one is no exception. I know some people think if you have seen one lighthouse, you have seen them all, but I don’t agree. Since most lighthouses were built in the 1800s, many of them have been torn down or closed. I consider it a real treat when I have the opportunity to visit one. It is a special treat to experience a piece of maritime history. At the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum you can climb the 219 steps to the top of the 165-foot tower for a breathtaking view of historic downtown St. Augustine, the beaches, and the nation’s oldest port. The museum has great exhibits in the restored keepers’ house about the Coast Guard in WWII St. Augustine, shipwrecks, and the lives of the keepers and their families.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is one of Florida’s oldest continuously running attractions, having opened on May 20, 1893. It is an accredited modern zoo serving the public and scientists with educational shows and exhibits, research, and conservation efforts. It is the only place in the world where you can see every living species of crocodilian! But that’s not all. They also host a wide range of other animals and have wildlife shows.
Anastasia Island State Park
Located just a few minutes south of the city’s historic Bridge of Lions, is Anastasia State Park. It has four miles of beautiful beach, a tidal salt marsh, a protected bird sanctuary, and an upland hammock. We love to pack a lunch and make an entire day of it exploring the nature trail, kayaking the tidal flats of Salt Run, and lounging on the beach. In addition to kayaks, you can also rent bicycles, paddleboards, sailboats and canoes. There is also a campground, but we have never stayed there since the maximum RV length is 40 feet.