A June 2003 trip
to St. Augustine by hersplash
Quote: St. Augustine was founded in 1565 and is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States. I didn't know this before I arrived here, and when I left, I had learned that and more. I learned more than I had learned from high-school history!
This building was elaborate, with beautiful architecture. One of the floors used to be the world’s largest indoor swimming pool. You could view the steam room that they used to enjoy. The rooms are very large and the ceilings very tall. Everything is restored, and as you wander through the rooms, you can vision the wealthy guests, dressed in their finest, enjoying an afternoon cocktail or evening dance.
The museum and the collections were a gift by Chicago publisher Otto Lightner, founding editor of Hobbies Magazine. Knowing this, I could understand the collections. The collections there were varied and covered three floors. The top floor had collections of unusual items. There were buttons made from something like 40 different materials. They were glass, wood, stone, etc. I never knew that they could be made from so many different materials. There was needlework and pictures made with human hair. That was so weird; the hair was used like thread. There were collections of cigar bands, matchboxes, and family albums. They have beautiful furniture, urns, shells, and all kinds of glass, including Victorian art glass, a brilliant period cut glass from the late 19th century, and a stained glass room with work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. That room just glowed, and their collection was quite large. There were paintings, statues, and a Victorian village. One room was particularly fun, and that was the music room. It was filled with orchestrions—a completely contained orchestra in one piece of furniture. There was also a genuine nickelodeon, some music boxes, a player organ, and hand-cranked organ. They had a demonstration that reminded me of my grandmother playing her pump organ. What a delight.
The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission is $8. They are located at 75 King St. The former hotel also houses Café Alcazar, located where the pool once stood. They are open from 11:30am to 3:00pm Tuesday through Saturday. They also have a gift shop with great postcards of some of the collection and Tiffany-inspired gifts.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 6, 2005
75 King St.
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Attraction | "Castillo de San Marco"
This fort changed hands five times. From 1565 to1763 it was held by the Spanish, and again from 1784 to 1821. The British period was from 1763 to1784. The Confederacy held it for 1 year, from 1861 to1862, and the United States held it from 1821 to the present. Construction started in 1672, making it the oldest masonry fortification in the U.S.
The fort stands in the middle of town next to the water. From a distance it looks quite massive. And up close it really is. There is considerable walking on this tour, which include steps. Tours are available at the fort, or you can walk it yourself using the brochures as your guide. There are cannons up top overlooking the water, where you will get a beautiful view of the area. Below, you go in and out of rooms that are hot, especially during the afternoon in the summer. The tour guide will give you the history of each room.
For the history buff this is probably quite interesting and unusual. But for someone whose interest in history is remembering what he or she had for lunch yesterday, this might not be the place for you. If you do go, I strongly suggest that you don’t visit the fort at the end of the day. It didn’t really have anything that held my interest, so my enthusiasm wasn’t too strong and all the walking seemed like miles. I wouldn’t suggest this attraction for most young children.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 6, 2005
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
1 South Castillo Drive
St. Augustine, Florida
There is so much to this museum that I could hardly cover even a portion of what you’ll see. It is both fun and educational. As far as museums go, this is one of the most elegant, clean, high-tech, well-designed, interactive, and thorough museums I have seen. They spared no expense when building this museum and memorializing the inductees. You can see a beautiful chandelier with both stainless steel and glass prisms at the Shrine. The exhibits are beautifully showcased with audio, video, Internet, and even live information.
The Acoustiguide audio tour, available in six languages, will guide you through the main part of the museum located on the second floor. Beginning with the "front nine," you learn the history of the game, starting in St. Andrews, Scotland. You see the old balls, clubs, player memorabilia, and artifacts. You become acquainted with the rules, courses, evolution of equipment, history of TV’s influence, and the breakdown of gender and race in the game. In the "back nine" you get a feel for how golf has changed from the past; from the course designs and maintenance, golf organizations, tours, caddies, and players that make up golf today. Visitors can putt with old clubs and new clubs and play a par-three hole in a simulator (which I forced the volunteer to forget after I left). An electronic scoreboard displays your name for everyone to see, which provides a great photo opportunity.
Another part of the exhibit showcases all of the members in the Hall of Fame. Besides the bust, there are personal items and an interactive computer with the player’s bio and career information. On the first floor there is a video loop that serves as an introduction to golf. There is also an IMAX theatre.
You can take a ride in a glass elevator to the Shrine. From 110 feet above, you get a beautiful view of the World Golf Village. Outside is an 18-hole putting course and the Challenge Hole, a 132-yard replica of the 17th island green at the TPC Sawgrass. Although I didn’t tour the grounds, I know that they also have accommodations, shopping, restaurants, and two golf courses.
If you experience everything, the museum would take you days. With just a sampling of everything in the museum, it would take about 2 to 3 hours. The museum is open from 10am to 6pm Monday-Friday and 12 to 6pm on Sunday. Adult admission is $12. If you can’t make it to the museum, the website offers a great overview of both the village and the museum at World Golf Village.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 6, 2005
World Golf Hall of Fame
500 S Legacy TRL
St. Augustine, Florida 32092
I couldn’t hear everything about the history of the city the first time around (which sometimes happens with a lot of people), so if I went around again, I was sure I’d catch everything. And because my memory is so bad, I wanted to hear the history again so maybe something would stick! All of the tour drivers were so kind as I got to know them. It was nice to be addressed by my first name, and they gave me courage to ask lots of (what I call) dumb questions.
The Old Town Trolley makes 20 stops, and your ticket is good for three consecutive days. You can get on and off as often as you want. The trolley will pick you up every 15 to 20 minutes. They hit all of the highlights of the city like St. George Street, Flagler College and Presbyterian Church, Lightner Museum, Castillo de San Marcos, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Casa Monica Hotel, the Fountain of Youth, and San Sebastian Winery. Along the way, they will also point out other significant buildings and facts, like the shortest street in the country named "Treasury Street," and the doors are so small because the Spaniards were so short. The driver will also slow down so you can see things, like actual buildings made of coquina (shells). One of my favorite places on the tour was Magnolia Street, where these massive trees covered with moss lined the street and hung so low that there was hardly any sunlight on the street. It has been recognized as one of the country’s most beautiful. It was breathtaking.
I was not a big fan of trolleys in the past, although I had never been on one of them. To me they seemed too touristy. However, with so much history here, I think the Old Town Trolley is a great way to learn about the city. The service from the drivers was fantastic, so I wouldn’t choose anyone else. For more information and to order discount tickets online, visit http://www.historictours.com/staugustine/.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2005
Old Town Trolley
167 San Marco Ave.
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Attraction | "Nombre de Dios"
Also on these grounds is Our Lady of La Leche Shrine, America’s oldest Marian shrine. There is also a chapel, other statues and memorials, a rustic altar, and a gift shop. It is so peaceful and serene here. It’s a nice place to go at the end of the day, before sunset, to wind down and relax.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 14, 2005
Mission of Nombre De Dios & La Leche Shrine
27 Ocean Ave
St. Augustine, Florida 32084