St. Augustine Journals

Something Old, Something New

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A May 2003 trip to St. Augustine by thedrifter

The Castillo Photo, St. Augustine, Florida More Photos
Quote: If you're tired of the same old beaches and amusement parks that Florida has to offer, maybe it's time to try St. Augustine. The oldest city in the United States may provide a new twist on the typical Florida vacation.

Something Old, Something New

Overview

The Castillo Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. As such, you will find many attractions billed as "first" and "oldest" this, that and the other. Some are of questionable interest, but there is enough genuinely worthwhile historical sites to keep you busy for a while. Add in a lot of great eating and shopping, then a little beach time, and you've got yourself a few days of adventure lined up. Many people seem to visit St. Augustine for a day, or so, as a side trip from other locations. For my time and money, I'd rather spend a week based out of this quaint, historic treasure of a town. Quick Tips: While I feel that St. Augustine is worthy of a several day visit, it is certainly d...Read More

Penny Farthing Inn

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Hotel

Penny Farthing Inn Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
The Penny Farthing Inn is one of the best B&Bs I have stayed in. This well kept, late 19th-century Victorian home is cozy, well appointed in decor and ideally located for exploring St. Augustine's historic Old Town. The proprietors, Paul and Connie Schwartz, could not have been more gracious or accommodating as hosts. The Penny Farthing has a total of seven rooms. While generally a moderately priced inn, the rates do vary from room to room and, also, by season. The better rooms tend toward being somewhat expensive in the high season, but there's really not a bad room in the house. So, you should be able to arrange accommodations that fit your budget, whatever time of year you visit. I ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 6, 2004

Penny Farthing Inn
83 Cedar Street
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
(904) 824-2100

Salt Water Cowboy

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Restaurant

Salt Water Cowboy Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
On the edge of the marsh, just a couple of miles from St. Augustine's Old Town, is one of the most unique dining experiences in the area. Salt Water Cowboy is a restaurant that is housed in a restored, turn of the 20th century fishing camp. This atmospheric eatery is a fine place for the family, or a romantic sunset dinner for two on the deck. This rustic, quaint establishment specializes in seafood and they know their business. The quality of the food matches the quality of the view and natural beauty of this marsh side dining destination. For the more gastronomically adventurous, I highly recommend the Florida Cracker Combo. It is billed as an appetizer, but is actually enough to make a meal for...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 6, 2004

Salt Water Cowboy
299 Dondaville Road
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
(904) 471-2332

Florida Cracker Cafe

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Restaurant

Quote:
The Florida Cracker Café is a popular eatery in the heart of St. Augustine’s Old Town historic district. This highly touted establishment is a cheery spot to grab a light lunch while combing the shops of St. George Street, though I found that its reputation may have been a bit exaggerated. That said, I did see fit to eat there are two separate occasions in the course of a week. So, it’s certainly worth a visit. The restaurant itself is a brightly colored, festive place. The works of local artists are displayed around the walls and are available for purchase. A friendly and enthusiastic wait staff adds to the upbeat feel of the joint, making it a very pleasant atmosphere to get off your feet and...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 10, 2004

Florida Cracker Cafe
81 St. George St
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
(904) 829-0397

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

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Attraction

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
If you visit St. Augustine, you WILL see the Castillo de San Marcos. It's the really big, Spanish fort on your left as you come into town. You can't miss it. It will keep showing up in the background during your visit, as you explore the rest of the city. So, if you're not a real history buff, you may feel you've seen enough of the Castillo without ever setting foot inside. For a mere $4, though, I recommend taking a more in depth look at this wonderfully preserved example of colonial architecture. I mean, one normally has to go to Latin America to see this sort of thing. It's a national monument for a reason. Built in the late 17th century, the Castillo de San Marcos was the northern ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 6, 2004

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
1 South Castillo Drive
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 829-6506

Walking Tour

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Attraction | "A Ghostly Experience Walking Tour"

Walking Tour Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
St. Augustine is said to be one of the top three most haunted cities in the United States. So, there are plenty of spooky tales and anecdotes to be gleaned from this old town. If you'd like to learn more about the things that go bump in the night in these parts, you should sign on for "A Ghostly Experience Walking Tour". It has been featured on both the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel, as well as being voted the number one guided tour in Florida. This tour begins nightly, including holidays and weekends, at eight o'clock. You can purchase tickets at the kiosk adjacent to the Mill Top Tavern on St. George's Street, which is also the starting point for the excursion. Though there is noth...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 6, 2004

Walking Tour
Old Town
St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum

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Attraction

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
To get to the top of the 165 foot tall lighthouse, you must climb 219 stairs. If you are not in good physical condition, you'll likely find yourself stopping for a breather on the way up. If you are in poor physical condition, I suggest you enjoy the view from the ground. If you do make it to the top, though, you will be treated to a fabulous view of the surrounding area. Construction of the St. Augustine lighthouse began in 1871, making it more than 125 years old. The adjoining house was built in 1876 and, quite unusual in Florida, has a basement. This house is where the lightkeepers and their families lived, up until 1955 when the light was changed to an automated system. Now it is home to the...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 6, 2004

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
81 Lighthouse Avenue
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
(904) 829-0745

Fort Matanzas National Monument

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Attraction

Fort Matanzas National Monument Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
Castillo de San Marcos’ lesser-known relative is well worth a visit. Fort Matanzas National Monument is 14 miles south of St. Augustine. Take the A1A on Anastasia Island to get to this more remote Spanish Colonial sight. The park entrance is on the western shore, near the southern tip of Anastasia Island. The fortress itself stands on Rattlesnake Island, in the Matanzas Inlet. Built in 1742, this outpost was positioned to protect the rear approach to St. Augustine. Fort Matanzas is a tower-like structure, approximately 30 feet high. It is built of coquina, a shellstone substance commonly used around colonial St. Augustine. The fort housed a mere half dozen soldiers to guard against en...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 9, 2004

Fort Matanzas National Monument
8635 A1A South
St. Augustine, Florida 32084

Taberna del Gallo

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Attraction

Taberna del Gallo Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
The Taberna del Gallo is part of St. Augustine’s Colonial Spanish Quarter, but it is also open to the public four days a week, without purchasing a ticket to the Spanish Quarter. The tavern is a re-creation of a 1734 public house, based on one of the forty actual taverns that operated during the colonial era of this city. The Taberna del Gallo is a functioning establishment, staffed by period re-enactors. They serve both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, but do not have a food menu. Thursdays through Saturday, the tavern is open from 2pm until 9:30pm and from noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The small, one room taberna is a bit cramped for space, but there is also a little courtyard in the rear...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 12, 2004

Taberna del Gallo
St. George Street, near north end
St. Augustine, Florida 32084

Colonial Spanish Quarter

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Attraction

Colonial Spanish Quarter Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
The Colonial Spanish Quarter, a living history museum, recreates 1740's St. Augustine. Wander about this self contained village, interact with historical interpreters and witness various tasks of the era. Keep in mind that these are actual craftsmen, performing real jobs, so the tools are real and sometimes really sharp. It's a wonderful place for both adults and children, but keep safety in mind as you explore. Tickets may be purchased at the entrance. Prices vary by age and number of people in your party. Starting on your tour, the first place you come to is the candle-makers shop, which doubles as the herbalists’. In olden times, candles were in high and constant demand, so this industr...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 12, 2004

Colonial Spanish Quarter
53 Saint George Street
St. Augustine, Florida

Mill Top Tavern

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Restaurant

Mill Top Tavern Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
Situated in a 19th Century mill, this little bar is a favorite with locals and tourists. The Mill Top Tavern occupies the upstairs of the building, with a rather nondescript souvenir shop residing below. This cool little hangout is all about the atmosphere. With its open-air deck seating, you can enjoy the evening breeze and an excellent view of the surrounding area. To the sides, you’ll see the bustle of pedestrian traffic along St. George Street and to the rear is an excellent panorama of the Castillo and harbor. The menu at the Mill Top Tavern is, frankly, nothing to get overly excited about. The food was good, mind you, but it was rather typical bar fare. Burgers, soups, the usual potat...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2004

Mill Top Tavern
19 1/2 St. George Street
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
(904) 829-2329

St. George Street Photo, St. Augustine, Florida
Quote:
The pedestrian thoroughfare of St. George Street is the natural focal point for any exploration of the Old Town. Beginning on the north at the Old City Gate, this narrow lane ends to the south at Plaza de la Constitucion. Spanning roughly six blocks, you’ll find an abundant supply of restaurants, retail shops, ice cream parlors, bars and historic sights. During the day, St. George is teeming with foot traffic, but I’ve never found it deserted, even late at night. Architecturally, this is where you'll find the real Colonial Spanish flavor. St. George offers the highest concentration of early buildings in St. Augustine. Even in the 17th century, this was the town’s main artery. Near the nort...Read More