However, something was different at the end of this school year. The thought of traveling exhausted me, and I wanted nothing more than to spend time with family and friends in Florida. Plus, after a year of learning the IB curriculum and navigating my way through the Chinese culture, the only plans I wanted to make involved my parents’ pool and a lounge chair.
But quickly after I arrived, my friend Nick told me about his desire to see more of Florida, and suggested we take a road trip to St. Augustine. Since I hadn’t been since I was little, spending a couple of days exploring the “Nation’s Oldest City” seemed worth leaving the pool for.
St. Augustine was founded in September 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain. It’s actually the United States’ longest inhabited European-founded city. So, there’s your fun fact of the day. Above, you will see the historic narrow lanes, traditional shops, and the dorkiest picture ever: Nick and I (two teachers) with our “diplomas” from touring the nation’s oldest wooden schoolhouse. Word to the wise: unless you love schools, or just have an extra $5 burning a hole in your pocket, skip it. Castillo de San Marcos, on the other hand, was pretty impressive. It’s the oldest stone fort in the continental U.S., originally built by the Spanish between 1672 – 1695. Also, it’s on the water, so it’s pretty.I know this is super touristy, but I loved the Pirate & Treasure Museum. Admittedly, I have a strange obsession with pirates (I blame it on being from Tampa), but I’m pretty sure anyone would enjoy seeing 400-year-old treasure chests filled with gold. It’s supposedly the largest collection of pirate memorabilia in the world. Another highlight was taking the St. Augustine Distillery tour. First, it was free. Second, they gave away free booze. And third, the distillery is connected to prohibition-style Ice Plant Bar. Let me tell you, those drinks are legit. I recommend the Florida Mule. The end of day one consisted of Dole Whips, BBQ and whiskey at an amazing place called Mojo, and a ghost tour (I couldn’t help myself). The ghost tour was actually worth it, as we learned a lot about the town’s history and had a chance to see the town at night. I don’t think I need to tell you that the beef brisket and bourbon were worth it. Nor the creamy pineapple treat.The next day we headed to the lighthouse and to Anastasia State Park. We didn’t pay the $10 to go inside, but we did pay the $8 to get into the park. And it was worth it. Just look at the view.
The rest of the day was spent meandering around the old streets, eating delicious gourmet popsicles, popping into used bookstores, and eating at The Floridian restaurant. It was a pretty good two days.
Have you been to St. Augustine? What’s your favorite thing to do?