When I first visited Savannah, GA in high school I was mesmerized by its charm and historical landmarks. The old homes and tree lined streets made for a truly breathtaking landscape and it soon became one of my favorite places to visit. This year, I seem to have fallen in love again, but this time it’s with an entirely different place: St. Augustine, FL.
John and I spent Friday night and Saturday in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the US. We were able to see and do so many things so I thought I’d share the experience and photos with you to make you want to visit, too. Disclaimer: this is the longest post EVER, sorry 🙂 Enjoy!
Friday night we decided to take it easy and walked to the Raintree Restaurant, a Victorian home turned classy restaurant. The food was amazing, especially the bruschetta, and it was the perfect way to start our mini-trip.
On Saturday, we started our day with Old Town Trolley Tours where we got a trolley ticket (good for 3 days!) along with tickets to Villa Zorayda, Flagler College, Lightner Museum, The Old Jail, The Oldest Store Museum and The St. Augustine History Museum, all for a mere $63. We decided to ride the trolley for the full 90 minutes to get the history of the city and its attractions instead of getting off on 1 of the 22 stops.
We got off at St. George Street where we were surrounded by restaurants and shops. We wandered into a Greek Shrine and a few art shops and spotted a frozen yogurt shop to try later (because a trip isn’t complete without froyo you know). We then wandered to the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church, which was an architectural wonder. Henry Flagler built the church as a memorial to his daughter and is buried here (learn more).
After taking a million photos of the church, we decided to actually use one of the tickets we purchased and took a short, guided audio tour of Villa Zorayda. Villa Zorayda was especially unique as it is a 1/10thscale replica of a portion of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It was loaded with artifacts (including a crazy Egyptian cat rug which apparently curses all who walk on it) and many of the original furniture was still in its original location.
Next to Villa Zorayda was the Lightner Museum, originally built as a hotel. We were just in time for a music demonstration in which we got to hear all kinds of mechanical music boxes in action. We spent about an hour wandering the 3 floors of the museum and the most impressive was the collection of Tiffany stained glass and the Grand Ballroom.
Just across the street was Flagler College (originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel), which was also an architectural wonder considering it was built in 18 months (art included). The tour lasted about 45 minutes and was probably one of my favorite things we did. After the tour we picked up some fuel in the form of frozen yogurt and started walking toward our last stop for the day.
Our last stop was the Old Jail where we got a guided tour of an authentic old jail and were treated as if we were arriving prisoners. The tour guides were in period specific clothing, which added to the ambiance of the experience. After the tour we were starving so we paid a visit to Carmelo’s (we were enticed by the photo of their calzones in one of our visitor guides) where we had some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.
All in all it was an amazing day and I can’t wait to go back to visit some of the attractions we couldn’t squeeze in (Castillo de San Marcos, San Sebastian Winery, The Oldest Schoolhouse). Since almost all of our vacations this summer have involved the beach it was nice to visit such a historical and beautiful place. I 100% recommend St. Augustine to all of you as it is a truly unforgettable place!
Don’t forget to keep up with me on Facebook where I’ll be posting more images from our trip over the next few days!