St. Augustine is believed to be the oldest city founded by Europeans in the United States. On a quest to find the Fountain of Youth, Juan Ponce de Leon landed in St. Augustine in 1513. He claimed possession of the area for Spain. After the Spanish (and the French) made several failed attempts to colonize Florida, the city of St. Augustine was founded in 1565. Because of its rich history the city is a popular tourist destination, especially for history enthusiasts.
The historic district in St. Augustine is home to buildings that were built as early as the 1700s. The Oldest Wooden School House is located near the City Gates on St. George Street. According to tax records, the school house was built for the Genoply family around 1716. The school house is open for tours daily. Contemporary art, fine art, and handmade crafts are available in the dozens of shops on St. George Street. The Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress, is one of the most visited attractions in St. Augustine. It is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay across the street from the St. George Street shopping area. Living history museums can be found throughout the city of St. Augustine.
The Colonial Experience at the Colonial Quarter is a two acre attraction in historic downtown St. Augustine. History buffs can climb to the top of a 17th century watchtower replica, witness the firing of a musket, and listen to a detailed oral history presentation about St. Augustine and the various flags that have flown over the city.
The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is a museum experience suited for pirate lovers of all ages. Visitors can see over 800 authentic artifacts. The museum is filled with interactive and educational experiences. Guests are encouraged to look for wooden blocks throughout the museum that are marked with the Jolly Roger symbol to locate discovery drawers. Using a map provided by the museum, guests can record their findings. Anyone who finds all of the items hidden in the discovery drawers can win “pirate treasure“.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Odditorium (St. Augustine) is the first permanent Ripley’s attraction. The museum houses some of Robert Ripley‘s original collection. The three floors of the historic (themed) castle are home to over 800 exhibits; many of them are interactive. One interactive exhibit allows visitors to take fun photos of their shadows. The exhibits in the museum include everything from human and animal oddities to optical illusions and one-of-a-kind art pieces. The museum is open 365 days a year.
St. Augustine is home to 42 miles of beaches in addition to its historic attractions, museums, shops, and restaurants. A variety of tour services are offered to visitors, including trolleys and horse-drawn carriages. The Visitor Information Center provides information on attractions, restaurants, parking, and more. There are public restrooms, water fountains, and a gift shop inside. There are also impressive exhibits on display. There is over 453 years of history to discover in the nation’s oldest city.
Photos for this article provided by Emari Craft (Instagram: @may_june_geminis).