My boyfriend and I went on a little “baecation” road trip this Memorial Day Weekend. There was nothing but rain in the forecast for South Florida, so this getaway was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the three day weekend without being rained on the whole time. I wanted to share a bit about the trip since I know many of my readers are from Florida, and adventurous! As many of you probably know, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States, so there is so much to learn and a lot of history in the city.
Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos is a large Spanish stone fortress built to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World. It’s a National Monument and, at over 315 years old, it’s the oldest structure in St. Augustine. This was probably one of the highlights of our trip. The fort was really cool, but the best part was actually the volunteer there who was giving history presentations inside one of the fort’s rooms. The first presentation was about how the Indians that were held captive in the fort eventually became one of the best college football teams. (Read more about that on Bleacher Report and check out this podcast on NPR, WORTH IT!). The second presentation we stayed for was about how Henry Flager built Florida as we know it today, and all his amazing architectural contributions to the city of St. Augustine. Flagler built several hotels in St. Augustine and put the city on a map for northerners who would look to spend the summer somewhere warm.
Oldest Wooden School House
The Oldest Wooden School House dates back to the early 18th century and is located on St. George Street by the City Gate. No wooden structures in St. Augustine built prior to the year 1702 still stand because the British burned Spanish St. Augustine to the ground in that year. We didn’t tour the inside of the house, but it was a tiny wooden house sitting in the bustle of downtown St. Augustine. Could you imagine going to school in a tiny wooden house? I can’t.
Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a historical attraction where the first Spanish settlers who came in the 1600s, and the native Timucuans were already settled. With a working archaeological dig on site, as well as several re-created Spanish and Timucuan buildings and dwellings, the park is bursting with history. It was like an outdoor museum, full of replicas of buildings. There was even a planetarium presentation describing how European mariners were able to navigate the seas without modern day technology. We were also able to actually drink water from the Fountain of Youth. It wasn’t bad at first but the aftertaste was awful. This is the same natural spring water you would be able to find in any Florida spring.
Flagler college was actually not on our initial list of places to visit, but after the presentation at the Castillo de San Marcos, we had to go. Flagler College highlights the architectural heritage of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, listed as a National Historic Landmark. Built by railroad magnate, Henry M. Flagler in 1888, the Ponce is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture and was one of the most exclusive resorts of its day. The hotel became Flagler College in 1968, but the architecture of the 17th century hotel is a real treat!
Mojo Old City BBQ
Ok, so this isn’t a cool interesting history lesson, but it’s totally worth mentioning. Sami and I have been to a “Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar” BBQ restaurant in Ocala, and turns out there are multiple locations and an “Old City BBQ” location in St. Augustine. I am not a huge BBQ fan, but I LOVE the food here. It takes a lot for me to eat and enjoy BBQ food, but at these Mojo BBQ locations, you can’t go wrong. They also have an amazing bar selection, which is always a plus! I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re ever in the area of ANY of their locations!
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The St. Augustine Lighthouse was also a totally worthwhile site to see. The entire site is made up of the lighthouse, the lighthouse keeper’s house, and many other buildings full of artifacts and exhibits. A Spanish watchtower, built in the late 1500’s was the predecessor of the present St. Augustine Lighthouse. St. Augustine is the site of the oldest, permanent aid to navigation in North America. A series of wooden watchtowers evolved into Florida’s first lighthouse. We took a guided tour which was included with the entrance fee, where we learned tons about recovering artifacts from shipwrecks, and other maritime history. We also climbed up to the top of the lighthouse!
St. Augustine Distillery
The St. Augustine Distillery was our last stop before heading home from St. Augustine. This tour wasn’t exactly on the list either, but we had extra time and decided to go. It’s free, so why not? I have been through several brewery tours, but I have never been to a distillery tour. It was extremely educational, and our tour guide Andy was very knowledgeable and well-versed in his tour.
The tasting was great. Sami is not a brig drinker, so I was lucky enough to get double servings of all of it! I loved the Florida mule mix they sell with their vodka, and highly recommend it. I learned a lot about alcohol from this tour that I didn’t know before and how it is made. Andy also went into detail about how this distillery makes multiple different finishes of bourbon and gin, and like I said I learned a lot. I didn’t leave the gift store empty handed, and was happy to find they do have an online store where you can order!
The trip was all around fantastic. We learned a LOT, and it was a very relaxing weekend in a cool, different city. If you’ve never been, I recommend visiting St. Augustine if you ever have the chance!