St. Augustine Celebrating 450 Years

Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth landed the Spanish conquistador in Florida (the exact origin is unknown but believed by some to be Melbourne Beach and by others to be Ponce Inlet) in 1513, but it was Pedro Menendez de Aviles who first officially landed on the banks of St. Augustine on September 8, 1565 and proclaimed it in the name of his native Spain. Considered the nation’s “oldest city,”

St. Augustine is a historical journey and an incredible weekend getaway for families, groups and couples.

st.augustineWhere to Stay

Built before the turn of the 19th century, The Kessler Collection’s Casa Monica Hotel has a history as rich as its surroundings.  A member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America, Casa Monica has the majestic feel of a Moroccan resort, complete with ornate frescos, fountains and chandeliers. It is conveniently located on the corner of King Street and Cordova Street, across from Flagler College, in walking distance of all the sights, sounds and smells of Historic Downtown St. Augustine. The Old Town Trolley stops at the hotel, making this the perfect home base for a weekend of exploring a piece of Florida and American history.

What to Do

Jump on the trolley for an enlightening narrative of the historical city — from Menendez’s landing to the European colonial expansion to the American acquisition highlighted by the Henry Flagler era. Get off the trolley anywhere along the route to visit any of over 20 attractions, and then hop back on the open-air tram when finished to be whisked along the narrow roads to the next discovery.

Be sure to allow time for the St. Augustine Distillery, a fascinating public-private partnership that recently restored the historic FP&L ice plant into an active craft distiller of whiskey, rum, gin and vodka.

Other stops along the route worth exploring include the Castillo de San Marcos, Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, San Sebastian Winery, Lightner Museum, Whetstone Chocolate Factory, the “Oldest House” and Flagler College.  And be sure to allow plenty of time to just wander the streets of downtown to visit the local art galleries, shops, bars and restaurants.

This article appears in the October 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Living.
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