Florida isn’t all about Orlando or Miami, there are lots of great cities up and down the coastline. In 3 weeks my family and I will be traveling to St. Augustine, Florida in hopes of adding more excitement into our educational, family travels. St. Augustine is one of the most historical cities is the Gulf Coast area and a short 8 hours drive from the New Orleans, Louisiana area. The area offers traditional tourist attractions, yet infused with historical elements your family is looking for in a vacation destination. If you’re not sure what to do and see here are six reasons to make it your next destination.
It’s the oldest city in the United States
Yes that’s right, it all began here. St. Augustine is sometimes dubbed the “ancient city” and was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles. For two hundred years it was the Spanish capital of Spanish Florida.
Castillo de San Marcos
This 20 acre monument make up the walls of the original settlement of St. Augustine. It’s also the only 17th century fort in the United States. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the site, interact with costumed actors representing people at the early life of the fort, and view firing of weaponry from the 17th century. The National Park service has attempted to interpret the cultures and histories of the original peoples of the land including; Native Americans, Minorcan, Spanish, colonial African Americans, and English.
Fountain of Youth
“If you dig the past, come dig here!” Ponce de Leon’s Archeological Park is home to the Spring House, and the supposed Fountain of Youth. The natural spring that was first discovered in the 1500’s consists of over 30 minerals and has been consistently replenished for 500 years. On the same site a Timucua burial ground was discovered in the 1920’s. These Native Americans are believed to be the first Christianized group in the US. Later archeological discoveries also found the Franciscan Mission of Nombre de Dios, the first Christian Mission in the United States. All of these historical sites can be found at the archeological park.
With a coastal history as long as St. Augustine’s there’s bound to be some rebel rousing tales to be told! The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure museum is an interactive museum that lets you see, smell and experience a pirate’s life. Want to see a real treasure chest? The only authentic pirate chest in the world, requisite with an elaborate lock system is held here. Captain Kidd’s journal, and one of the few remaining Jolly Roger flags are just a few of the treasure held here.
As one of the oldest cities in the nation, St. Augustine has its fair share of ghost tales. Long before Europeans arrived the area was home to Native American tribes for thousands of years. Tales of fated lovers, people accidentally buried alive, and pirate raids make for plenty of jilted spirits. There are numerous ghost tours available, but you can always set off alone…
Sun and Sand
Even though northern Florida isn’t often a destination for beaches, there are dozens of miles of pristine water and clean sand to play in. When you’re ready to relax after long days of exploring, grab an umbrella, towel and stake your claim!
When you think of family travel, what would be your favorite city to visit?