St. Augustine: The Oldest City in America

Pirates Ship, St. Augustin, Florida, Dunheger Travel Blog

 

Marked by the worlds tallest cross in the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, it is hard to deny when you have reached the city limits of St. Augustine. Mysterious and alluring, St. Augustine is the oldest remaining city in the United States, and home to antique architecture and historical sites that draw thousands of visitors each year. A walk through the old city and down cobblestone roads invites images of the 17th century, with horse-drawn carriages and the sweet smell of old town bakeries wafting through the streets. Although the town has become slightly modernized, you can still take haunted ghost tours, play along with reenactments of what a day in the life of the colony was like, and have your picture taken in traditional garments from the days when Spaniards, French and European settlers walked the streets. If you are history buff, or simply enjoy the feel of older times, St. Augustine is the perfect retreat for anyone who wishes to explore the past.

St. George St., St. Augustine, Florida, Dunheger Travel Blog
St. George St., St. Augustine, Flickr © Evangelio Gonzalez

The oldest European settlement in the United States to be continuously occupied, St. Augustine, Florida contains some of the richest history in the timeline of one of the youngest countries. Founded in 1565, the town went through a number major changes, including battles between the French and Spanish. Since then, St. Augustine has become a beacon of historical preservation, and remains one of the oldest landmarks in the United States. The fort on the Matanzas Bay is still intact, rendering ancient jail cells and large cannons used during war. A walk around the structure will even show indentations from cannonballs that struck the coquina walls hundreds of years ago.

The fort on the Matanzas Bay , Dunheger Travel Blog
The fort on the Matanzas Bay, Flickr © Dan Lundberg

Just because the town is hundreds of years old, doesn’t mean that the people who live there are. There is still a vibrant and lively young culture who keep the music, festivities and drinking alive and well. A walk down St. George st. will bring you to some of the oldest bars in Florida, and a stroll through the city centre will offer old cathedrals mixed in with contemporary architecture. The Casa Monica Hotel is one of the most exclusive hotels for hundreds of miles, and the dining experiences in the surrounding corridors are varied and delightful. As the nights wind down, waking and winding through the streets creates a perfect sense of what St. Augustine may have felt like two-hundred years ago, and the warm breeze from the bay and ocean will have you exploring all night and into the day.

View from St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida, Dunheger Travel Blog
View from St. Augustine Lighthouse, Flickr © Joe Flood

St. Augustine Beach is a short trip from the old city, across the famous but remodeled Bridge of Lions, and past the lighthouse that used to stand as a beacon to ships coming into port. The lighthouse is still fully operational, and tours run to the top daily for one of the most spectacular view. If you are looking for some of the best seafood restaurants around, take a trip to the beach and eat on the upstairs decks of one of the lively restaurants while feeling the ocean breeze on your face and listening to the sounds live music. There are number of trails and hiking opportunities around as well, so don’t forget to take advantage of the nature aspect of St. Augustine as well. If you have been searching for history and culture, St. Augustine is the best secret hideaway in Florida.