Well, I didn’t come back looking any younger but I did have a great time!
During our recent visit to St. Augustine we visited the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the original site of the Nation’s oldest city. The actual location is also in the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565. Visiting St. Augustine was a perfect fit for my family. Basiclally it was one big history lesson that we saw come to life over a few days.
St. Augustine is the oldest successful European settlement in the United States. Colonial America started in St. Augustine 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and 42 years before Jamestown! That’s over 500 years ago!
Our first exhibit was the Fountain of Youth. I’m sure you are familiar with the legend that became prominent in the 16th century. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León (the first Governor of Puerto Rico, came to what is now Florida in search for the Fountain of Youth. While the spring did not restore my youth, it was an honor to experience the legendary story that was so vital to our Nation’s history.
One of my son’s favorite exhibits and demonstrations was the weapons demonstration. In 1565 Pedro Menedez de Aviles landed in St. Augustine having brought 20 artillery pieces to use as protection in the settlement. The archeological park has a replica of one of those six-pounder guns which is shot hourly so visitors can understand how the settlement was protected during that time period. In addition to the cannon firings, weapons demonstrations include arquebus gun firings & period crossbow demonstrations are available hourly. Demonstrations are always weather-dependent.
While at the archeological park we also learned about the Timucua natives. The Timucua and the Spaniards lived side by side even as the European diseases took a horrible toll on the Timucua. Visitors can find information about the natives and their Native American culture in a reconstructed portion of the town of Seloy. The Living History Interpreters on hand were able to help us understand what day to day life was like in the village and how the Timucua eventually slipped away into history.
General Admission information:
Seniors (60+ Years Young)
Children 5 and Under
The Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is filled with educational elements that your family can enjoy while visiting St. Augustine. You can not visit the area without making a quick trip to the Archaeological Park. There is so much information that I am not able to include into this post. Please be sure to visit their Website and Facebook page for additional information including events, classroom tools and historical lessons that you can include into your home school history lessons.