When most people think of American history they picture Boston and Philadelphia with their storied revolutionary history or the southern battlefields of the Civil War. With so many interesting historical sites scattered throughout the nation, Florida hardly ever makes the short list but it has it’s own rich history rarely acknowledged in the history books.
The epicenter of historical Florida is the city of St. Augustine. Founded in 1565, 42 years before the English set foot in Jamestown, St Augustine is a wonderful place for an educational and fun family vacation. Here are four historical site perfect for a weekend trip.
Castillo de San Marcos
Built in 1672, the oldest masonry fort in the United States, the Castillo de San Marcos sits on the intracoastal waterway. Built to guard the Spanish settlement from pirates common to the region at the time, it has changed hands numerous times and withstood many sieges before being turned into a National Park in 1933. Today, the Castillo de San Marcos has a lot to offer visitors, from historical reenactments to educational videos and guided tours. Open year round from 8:45 AM to 5:15 PM except for December 25th. Entrance fees are $6 for adults over 16 years of age, free for children 15 and under.
Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum
St. Augustine’s Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum offers visitors the opportunity to step back into history and see how some of St. Augustine’s earlier inhabitants lived. As a living museum, this two block park recreates the St. Augustine of 1740 complete with costumed blacksmiths, carpenters and homemakers plying their trades. Open from 9:00 AM to 4:45 PM 7 days a week the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum offers a variety of packages and prices to make the most of your experience.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
Built in 1874 the St. Augustine Light still operates to help ships navigate their way into America’s oldest port city. Restored in the 1980’s the museum features numerous maritime artifacts and the observation deck in the light tower is open to visitors. Be aware that it is a steep climb and the observation deck can be closed during inclement weather. Choose a nice day for your trip and make sure you are healthy enough for the physical activity. Open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM the lighthouse is closed Thanksgiving Day, December 24th and 25th. Tickets are $9.00 for adults, $7.00 for children under 11 with discounts available for seniors.
Historic Old City
Looking for a blend of history and fun? Check out St. Augustine’s historic Old City. Visitors cam stroll the charming cobblestone streets and check out local boutiques and galleries. Lined with historic buildings and shady historic cemeteries you can spend a relaxing afternoon wandering to your heart’s content. When your feet get tired trolley and carriage tours are readily available. Or if you are looking for a thrill, numerous companies throughout the Old City offer nightly ghost tours mixing history with chills.
This list will help you plan your first visit to historic St. Augustine but keep your eyes peeled as you tour the city. There are many more wonderful sights to see as you walk the streets that have been walked for over 440 years.