St. Augustine, Florida: Exploring the Nation’s Oldest City

Touted as “The Nation’s Oldest City”, St. Augustine occupies a small area in Northeast Florida, just south of Jacksonville. The city retains many aspects of its historical charm, while making way for modern day city conveniences. As a tourist, there is a lot this quiet city offers that appeals to both contemporary and historical travelers alike. Some of the best places to visit are both “old” and “new”.

Perhaps the oldest attraction St. Augustine has to offer is the Castillo De San Marcos, which is operated by the National Park Service. This coquina fort was built in 1672 – 1695 and offers visitors a spectacular view of former sea routes once traveled by Spanish and British soldiers. Another fort, Ft. Matanzas, is located fourteen miles south of St. Augustine. This historic site is also operated by the National Park Service and is only accessible by ferry.

For those that like interesting curiosities, St. Augustine hosts a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum which presents visitors with over eight hundred oddities and curiosities. Their new program, Mysteries of the Castle Warden Hotel, allows visitors to try to solve a murder mystery in a tour group of no more than twenty five people. In keeping with curiosities, a few blocks down the street is the Potter’s Wax Museum. This site displays over one hundred and sixty past and current celebrities in wax form. Figures here are so lifelike, one cannot tell the difference!

If the supernatural intrigues you, consider visiting The Old Jail and The St. Augustine Lighthouse, both which have been rumored to have been haunted. These locations were investigated by the Sci-Fi Channel’s popular show, Ghost Hunters, and some very interesting experiences were found. Annual events such as December’s Luminary Night allow visitors to explore the lighthouse after dark, making for a more interesting experience.

When walking meets shopping, one thing comes to mind: St. George Street. Here different shops are located up and down the main streets and alleyways. St. George Street is a pedestrian only street and is several blocks long. Many of St. Augustine’s tourist attractions are located off St. George Street, so it is a good idea to wear walking shoes and bring a big bottle of water. If mall shopping suits your fancy, consider making the short drive inland to St. Augustine’s outlet shopping corridor. The St. Augustine Factory Outlets offer ninety five outlet shops, and an indoor food court. A few blocks down the road, is the all indoor, Belz Factory Outlet World. The stores offer an array of clothing, books, electronics, and house wares at discount, outlet prices.

Before you decide to explore these places, it may be a good idea to contact them directly. Many of the offer special discounts such as reduced admission to seniors and military, online internet coupons, and free admission days. There are so many other wonderful places to explore in St. Augustine, the city makes a perfect place to spend a few days to relax and enjoy all of the sites the city has to offer. If that’s not possible, consider sampling the city the next time you are on I-95 in Northeast Florida. You won’t be disappointed!

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