This jewel on Florida’s historic northeast coast is the oldest continually inhabited city in our nation, first settled by Spanish explorers in 1565. With 42 miles of beautiful white sand beaches, you’ll find plenty of wide open space to find your own place in the sun.
Known as one of the country’s most walkable cities, your legs will get you everywhere when you stay at the St. George Inn, one of more than two dozen historic inns in the area. Enjoy complimentary breakfast from your balcony overlooking the pedestrian shopping street or next to the fountain in the private courtyard. The Spanish Baroque Revival architecture at Casa Monica Resort & Spa, built in 1888, exudes old world glamor with the luxurious amenities and comforts you’d expect from a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel. The historic 1880 Bayfront Westcott House is now a 16 room bed and breakfast known for its gourmet morning meal. In the late afternoon, enjoy the complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres from the verandah overlooking Matanzas Bay.
In the heart of the Old Town, enjoy locally-sourced catch at the St. Augustine Seafood Company, where you may even catch live entertainment in the back courtyard. Experience the romance of an intimate candlelit Spanish courtyard while sipping sangria and tasting tapas at Taberna del Caballo. Ever wonder about those Salt Life stickers you see on cars everywhere? They promote a way of life that you can also taste at Salt Life Food Shack, which isn’t a shack at all, but a trendy, upscale embodiment of the cultural phenomenon. For a uniquely St. Augustine experience, ask to sit in a palapa-covered treehouse table overlooking the marina at the Conch House Restaurant.
Conduct your own exploration of the Ancient City aboard the Old Town Trolley. The fully narrated tour takes about 90 minutes, or you can hop off at any of 22 stops around town. Your ticket includes free admission to the St. Augustine History Museum and the Old Jail Museum, and free transportation just outside town to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, one of the nation’s oldest zoos and home to 24 species of reptiles including saltwater crocodile Maximo, the park’s largest animal at nearly 16 feet long and 1,250 pounds. Of course, you must visit the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park and take a drink from the freshwater source of eternal youth discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513.
St. Augustine is the patron saint of brewers, so it isn’t surprising to find several microbreweries, wineries and distilleries in the area. Take in a free tour and tasting the St. Augustine Distillery, featuring small batch spirits crafted from local sources. Tour Flagler College, a National Historic Landmark built as the Hotel Ponce de Leon in 1888 by railroad visionary Henry Flagler and wired for electricity by his friend, Thomas Edison. The College is home to 79 priceless Tiffany windows and considered one of the country’s best examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Walk through the Colonial Quarter, including a turn-of-the-century village and pedestrian shopping along St. George Street. Complete your trip with a few relaxing days along St. Augustine’s beaches, extending from Vilano Beach in the north to the secluded Crescent Beach at the southern end of town.