History buffs will find delight in America’s oldest city of St. Augustine, filled with plenty of charm and wonder. Offering pleasant weather year-round and located near the Atlantic Ocean, its easy to see why millions of visitors, especially during the summer months between June and August, head to this destinations for its unique local attractions and photo worthy colonial architecture. Conquered in 1565 by Spanish explorer, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the city was Florida’s Spanish capital for 200+ years until British rule. Today, St. Augustine’s rich heritage and Spanish influence can be seen throughout. Plan a stay around late winter through the end of spring as the crowds lessen and hotel rates are also at their lowest. From brick-lined streets to the city’s European flavor with centuries-old buildings, horse-drawn carriages and even hidden courtyards, there’s so much to discover.
WHERE TO EAT
Eat like a local at some the best top-rated restaurants in the city. For starters, head to the Hot Shot Bakery and Café downtown, a lovely breakfast and lunch spot serving delicious espressos and specialty lattes, handcrafted breakfast paninis or wraps using their our fresh baked light wheat-flaxseed bread. The Maple Street Biscuit Company is another great morning option offering a number of flaky signature biscuits, biscuits and gravy, and other breakfast entrees with a fun and delicious twist.
By mid-afternoon, head to Anastasia Blvd where you’ll find Mojo Tacos. This cash only gem is worth the visit with all of their savory tacos served “double decker style” – a soft shell and hard shell stuck together with melted cheddar cheese, also of which includes lettuce, fresh salsa, and their famous signature Mojo Sauce, a mild hot sauce that’s a must have! Serving lunch and dinner, the Columbia Restaurant is a local favorite in the historic district since 1908. Their award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine features a variety of tapas, red snapper, mahi mahi, picadillo, filet mignon, paella, and more.
When dinnertime hits, a popular, but pricey waterfront restaurant, Cap’s On the Water, located in Vilano Beach, serving delicious local seafood favorites like Shrimp Vilano, Oyster Rockefeller, Fresh Catch of The Day, and homemade desserts to top it off. For an equally nice option right on the waterfront with more favorable prices, Aunt Kate’s Restaurant offers southern comfort food such as smoked fish dip, fried alligator tail, and a seafood platter topped with cheddar cheese, grits, bacon and mushroom country gravy.
For dessert, it’s none other than Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar in the heart of downtown. This amazing shop features delicious cake-like waffles with all the toppings you can think of and a milkshake bar complete with unique favors and combinations.
WHERE TO STAY
Whether you’re hoping to find oceanfront accommodations, a luxury hotel with all the amenities, or a budget-friendly lodging near historic sites, St. Augustine offers a variety of hotels to choose from. Whatever your reasons for visiting the city, you’ll want to find the ideal hotel so you can be close to all the action. For a quality stay in a great location and within budget, book a stay at the 2-star Best Western St. Augustine Beach Inn, close to the St. Augustine beach and located near Anastasia State Park, and a several minutes drive from the downtown area and all the top attractions. A night’s stay includes free breakfast, an outdoor pool, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, plus a computer station, express check-out, and free self parking available onsite.
If you prefer to stay downtown and still keep a modest budget, the 3-star Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites St. Augustine Hist. District is the place to stay. Located in the Historic District, it is walking distance from the Limelight Theatre and Mission of Nombre de Dios and within close proximity to the Florida Heritage Museum and Old Jail. A night’s stay includes a 24 hr fitness facility, an outdoor pool, complimentary high-speed internet access, tour/ticket assistance, a restaurant, which conveniently serves breakfast and dinner as well as shuttle services available for an additional fee.
If you’re looking for an upscale accommodation in an unbeatable location in the heart of downtown, stay at the iconic and historical Casa Monica Resort & Spa built back in 1888. It’s grand Moroccan-theme certainly makes an impression complete with an ornate lobby filled with chandeliers, fountains, and frescos the moment you walk through the doors. Aside from its old-fashioned elegance, a night’s stay also offers an on-site cafe and high-end restaurant, and guest rooms with gold-accented decor, Bose sound systems, flat-screen TVs, and wet bars. Local attractions include the Lightner Museum, Villa Zorayda, Basilica Cathedral, Castillo de San Marco, Alligator Farm, Ripley’s, Ghost Tours, Beach. It’s in the heart of it all!
WHAT TO DO
A trip to this fun destination is not complete without first taking in one of many Old Towne Trolley Tours available. Sign up online for their latest offers and promotions to save even more money on your visit. Trolley tours start as low as $23 and are good for 3 days in a row with hop on & hop off options at 23 stops. Attractions include the the St. Augustine History, Pottery, and Lightner Museum, The Old Jail, the original Ripley’s believe it or not, The Fountain of Youth, and more. Individual entry tickets start at $5.75 per person and there are also combo packages that offer a better value with more inclusive attractions. Other popular attractions include the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Light Station, Fort Matanzas National Monument, the Oldest Wooden School House, and the Spanish Military Hospital Museum. Come and see why this seaside town is visited every year by thousands of travelers from all over the world.
A digital content and communications specialist, editor, and cat enthusiast, Claudia Flores has a diverse background in public relations working at Hotel Planner and Meetings.com. A native of California and graduate from Liberty University, she is now residing in sunny West Palm Beach, FL. She loves traveling to new exotic places, dabbling in movie trivia, and has a soft spot for animals. Follow on twitter @ClaudeFloresPR