If you love history, St. Augustine will be your favourite travel destination!
On March 27, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon became the first European to set foot on the soil of the “future” United States, and he did it in St. Augustine! This Florida city is also the oldest in the United States. In 1565, after capturing the present territory of St. Augustine from the French, the Spanish were not happy with the idea of having them so close to their colonies that they decided to occupy the areas permanently. They chose to occupy the territory on August 28, the day of the Feast of St. Augustine, the Spanish named their new and first city in honor of Augustine of Hippo.
By far the best way to explore the city of St. Augustine is to stroll through the historic district. You will see hundred-year-old homes and ancestral shops where you will probably meet the owners in period costumes!
When walking is no longer exciting, and you are starting to feel tired, continue your city tour by horse-drawn carriage, small train or vintage car. The city is home to the oldest monuments and buildings in the United States. The public is allowed to visit: the oldest shop, the oldest house—dating back to 1720—the oldest schoolhouse, where a robotic teacher will describe the old school, as well as the oldest prison in the United States. You can go in to visit the “high security” cells of the time, and do the same in the sheriff’s house that is just next door.
You may also decide to visit the Castillo de San Marcos, the former fort built by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695 to protect themselves from Native American enemies and pirates. Its architecture is typical of fortresses built in Europe in modern times and its six-metre-thick walls make it the largest Spanish fort in all the United States. If you are tough enough, you can climb the 219 steps of the lighthouse of St. Augustine for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
Then take a history break, and use the time to relax on St. Augustine’s beautiful beach or in one of its excellent restaurants. Its history, friendly people and magnificent views will make you fall in love with the oldest city in the United States!
When to Go
Events We Love
St. Augustine’s Annual Christmas Parade ushers in the holiday season with floats, festive decorations and plenty of fun. Lots of local organizations participate in this event, making it one of the largest parades in Northeast Florida.
The Nights of Lights is a 2-month long celebration of the Holiday Season. Millions of white lights create a magical holiday atmosphere in the Nation's oldest city.
A simple way to get around St. Augustine is by car. Parking can be found in the streets. Also available, a multi-level parking garage close to important tourist attractions.
St. Augustine is a city where many enjoy walking. This will allow you to see most of the historical buildings and shops with relative ease.
St. Augustine Essentials
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