Situated on Florida’s northeast coast, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. St. Augustine is known as ‘The Ancient City’ for a good reason. The quaint city with its sandy beaches has more than 450 years of interesting history dating back to when it was founded in 1565. The historic city is home to approximately 14,000 people but draws in many more each year. Whether you’re simply a history buff or are interested in learning about America’s oldest city, a trip to St. Augustine, Florida is sure to bring lasting memories.
St. Augustine is home to a number of must-see historical sites. One the most noticeable landmarks is the Castillo de San Marcos. This national park monument was built by the Spanish between 1672 and 1692 to protect the city from pirates and British invaders. From the Castillo, wander down the streets of St. Augustine and you’ll discover more than 30 buildings of colonial origin. The Gonzalez-Alvarez House, also referred to as the ‘Oldest House’ marks one of the first homes built in the 1600s. Also make your way to the Spanish Military Hospital Museum to learn even more about the city’s beginnings.
The Colonial Quarter of St. Augustine combines the heritage of both the Spanish and British. Here you’ll find interactive exhibits, such as an 18th-century Spanish home, blacksmith, leatherworking shop, and a 35-foot watch tower that overlooks the grounds. The local Pirate & Treasure Museum provides guests with a close-up look at the world’s largest collection of genuine pirate artifacts. Travelers can also enjoy a re-enactment of the pirate raid that occurred in St. Augustine in 1668 when pirates ransacked and burned down the city. The city puts on this re-enactment every March and offers various other activities for a full-fledge day of fun.
Besides the annual re-enactment, there are plenty of other popular events that occur in St. Augustine. Nights of Lights is one of the most recognizable. This holiday event starts when the holiday lights are turned on for the season and they don’t go off until early February. This event marks a tradition established by the Spanish centuries ago when they would place a single white candle in a window of their homes to start the Christmas holiday. Today, this tradition has become a city-wide celebration enjoyed by adults and children throughout St. Augustine.
Throughout the year, St. Augustine hosts a number of celebrations, such as holiday concerts, circuses, festivals, theatre, farmers markets, and holiday hayrides. There is also more to explore in the city, such as its extensive beaches, distilleries, golf, and art walks. There is even an Alligator Farm located near the city’s lighthouse where thousands of alligators roam the grounds. If you have the courage, you can actually zip line over the swampy habitat and see these creatures up close. However, no matter what you decide to do while in St. Augustine, you are sure to make great memories.
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