Heading to Florida this spring or summer? Consider a stop in St. Augustine, a beach-front Spanish Colonial town rich with history. Horse-drawn carriage rides take visitors by centuries old churches, businesses, and an historic Spanish fort in St. Augustine. These are just a few of the dozens of attractions in and around Florida’s Historic Coast, where there is something for everyone. On a recent trip to Florida, we made a stop in St. Augustine and here’s how we spent our day in the nation’s oldest city.
Driving distance from Charlotte: 6 hours
Location: Northeast Florida, between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach
Claim to fame: Oldest city in the US
Old Town Trolley Tours
Upon arrival, we hopped aboard a trolley and let the conductor guide our way through St. Augustine. We were able to hop off and back on whenever we wanted over the course of 23 stops. This let us to choose where we wanted to explore and stay as long as we wanted. Even though all of the trolley stops were well marked, we were given a map of them so we’d know where to hop back on.
Castillo de San Marcos
Constructed by the Spanish between 1672-1695, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Listed as a national monument in 1924, the fort has become the top tourist destination in St. Augustine. Your family can explore this over 300-year-old fort on a self-guided tour. While you’re there, strike up a conversation with one of the re-enactors in period dress or watch a historic weapons demonstration. This is a fabulous place to learn a bit of history and take in the gorgeous views along Matanzas Bay.
Oldest Wooden School House
Step inside to experience school life in the 1700s. Listen and watch as the animatronic schoolmaster and his students carry out a typical day. What was originally a colonial era home, became an American landmark. The schoolmaster and his wife lived upstairs and turned their living room into a classroom. Today it is filled with artifacts and antiques from the time it served its students. The tour takes you through their enchanting garden, full of exotic plants and flowers that surrounds the kitchen. This was definitely a fun stop for my kids.
Strolling Around the Old City
Bustling with visitors, this charming historic district is filled with beautiful architecture, quaint shops, and vibrant restaurants. Wandering along the cobblestone streets, you can explore old buildings, historic churches, and fascinating museums. We found a wonderful restaurant for lunch and plenty of shops to browse in. I heard parking is very challenging here, so we were happy to be dropped of and picked up by the trolley.
For more information, go to floridashistoriccoast.com.