Back in 2015 after my husband and I finished our roadtrip covering 13 states, we both agreed on one thing: St. Augustine was by far our favorite stop along the way. We wish we’d planned for more time there and have promised each other that we will go back for a longer stay.
Not many people know that St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. Surprised? I know! Founded in 1565, it’s more than half a century older than it’s closest competitors, Jamestown and Sante Fe. The city is overflowing with historical buildings, each with its own story to tell. There is something absolutely magical about the town that draws you in and makes you want to stay. Nothing beats the charm of the old cobblestone streets, but it does make driving through the city and finding parking difficult.
One of the main attractions of St. Augustine is Ponce de Leon’s famous Fountain of Youth. The site is home to some of the oldest Spanish architecture around and embraces culture from nearly five centuries ago through living history exhibits. Admission to the park is $14, parking is free, and you can bring your dog!
The oldest city in the US is no stranger to the craft alcohol movement, and it saddens me that I missed the opportunity to visit St. Augustine Distillery. Reviews of the distillery are fantastic and I can understand why! They offer free tours and tastings every half hour – make sure that you don’t miss your chance to visit!
If you have limited time in St. Augustine, I highly recommend doing a haunted pub crawl. We booked our tour through Ghost Augustine. They offer a web discount price for only $20. Our tour guide was FANTASTIC and the tour lasted about two and a half hours. The first stop of the night was Scarlett O’Hara’s, where we got a free beer before heading upstairs to the Ghost Bar. According to the bar’s website, the place originated as a house back in 1879 and has been haunted since the beginning, now being included in the National Directory of Haunted Places. Next was an old restaurant with stone walls and lots of stories. It was hard to resist taking a photo with the pirate ‘doll’ that was propped up on a barrel near the door.
The third stop of the night was Stogie’s Cigar Bar. Stogie’s offers a special of a house beer AND cigar for only $5. We went upstairs for the ghost stories, and I’ll admit, the ventilation was not the greatest, and it was tough for a non-smoker to handle. But I’m glad I toughed it out because the stories were great. The most popular is of a girl who haunts the floor and people say they’ve felt her try to push them down the stairs! Don’t worry, we made it out intact. Our last stop of the haunted pub crawl was Meehan’s Irish Pub where we had our last drink of the night on the outside patio. Meehan’s had a variety of cocktails available and a nice atmosphere to hang out at. Overall the tour was amazing and I highly recommend it!
If you have a little more time to spend in the area, take a drive 30 minutes south of the city to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Washington Oaks is a beautiful park with a wide variety of sections, including a citrus grove, a koi pond, a gazebo, tropical gardens, an oceanside beach, and (of course) massive, old, beautiful oak trees. Entrance to the park is only $5 per vehicle and the park is open from 8am to sunset.
St. Augustine has so much history and so much to offer to its visitors. Make sure a weekend there is added to your bucket list!