Back to recapping my adventures in St. Augustine! So the week before I visited St. Augustine I worked over 80 hours, so I didn’t have any time to do my usual level of research beforehand. I arrived and felt pretty unprepared to tackle the place, especially on the “sights” side. Some friends had given me some tips about St. Augustine way way back, but it was too long ago to really remember specifics. I ended up heading first to Creative Juices Natural Cafe for their gluten-free biscuits and gravy. Once I crossed the bridge from the old, historical area, I saw flashes of what looked like a zebra candy cane in the sky. I assumed this was the lighthouse that slightly came back to me from my friends’ suggestions. While I ate lunch I tried to do a little research on my phone. I scrolled through a couple lists of Top “X” sights or attractions in St. Augustine. One displayed all of them on a map, which was helpful as I also didn’t think I really had my bearings about St. Augustine. The lighthouse popped up just down the street from where I was at. I don’t know if in general the lighthouse would have struck my interest, but seeing it on my drive over and it being so close made me figure it was worth checking out. Some of the reviews I read said it had nice views and a few things to do. Multiple reviewers gave warnings about avoiding it if you’re afraid of heights, but I didn’t think too much of that.
The property is fenced off and you start off in the gift shop/visitor center off the parking lot. There you pay the entrance fee ($10 when I was there) and the backdoor leads to the property. Closest once you exit is a children’s play area on your right and to your left are some nature trails. Part of me wanted to go hiking and be under the trees (typical Oregon boy), but I wasn’t wearing the best shoes and went on ahead to the lighthouse. Even if it wasn’t painted in black and white stripes, you still couldn’t really miss the lighthouse as it towers over you.
Right above I mentioned how some of the reviews of the lighthouse warned people who are afraid of heights. I would say I am slightly afraid of heights, but more afraid of edges and falling. I wasn’t too worried about being in a lighthouse though. That quickly changed as I began to ascend the staircase… First off it’s all open from top to bottom in the middle of the spiral staircase. There also is only enough room really for one person to go up or down each flight, unless both turn to the side and try to squeeze by. And also considering this is an old lighthouse the railing is sort of low for a guy that’s 6’3”…
Luckily there are landings at the end of each turn in the staircase, which provides more of a stable spot to stop (plus let’s you look to see if anyone is coming down). At each landing I took a slightly deep breath and stopped to “admire the view” (of course that was the reason I stopped…). There were actually some good views from the windows looking out onto the water and St. Augustine. After what seemed like quite a while (maybe too long) I finally got to the top. There was a kid towards the top whose dad was giving him a hard time about not wanting to go out outside onto the platform. The kid stood up for himself pretty well and I thought “hey kid I am right there with you.” I got out onto the platform and it wasn’t as bad, although the walkway is a bit narrow. I paid close attention to the railing as I went around and snapped some pics. The view was definitely nice, but I think the edge and there being a good number of people up there was getting to me. I also think that I had an added fear of dropping my phone (that must have a name), so that was some added anxiety.
After getting some shots of the views, I made my way slowly down and tried not to look over the railing. I didn’t even try to take a picture of the view down (fear of dropping my phone is a real thing right?). I made it the bottom and it definitely felt good to be on solid ground.
With that out of the way I headed over to the lighthouse keeper’s house. Inside you can see how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived. There are a lot of descriptions around different furniture pieces, but then there were also several displays that allowed you to navigate through different people’s stories related to the lighthouse or St. Augustine. There were also general history and facts about St. Augustine. I learned that Florida was a British colony during the American Revolution, but stayed loyal to the British. That all makes sense thinking about the Seven Years War and when Britain acquired Florida from Spain (before losing it back to the Spanish), but I never had thought explicitly that fact. Also downstairs is a basement, which I interestingly found cool (there aren’t a lot of basements in at least South Florida).
There are a few other areas on the property, such as an artifact preservation area, which you can observe if they are working. I spent probably an hour or so going up to the top of the lighthouse, walking around, and seeing the different artifacts with descriptions. I think you could certainly spend a lot more time on top of the lighthouse or walking on the trails. There also are a number of different tours that you can pay extra for (admission is just a self-guided tour). These include a ghost tour at night, a behind-the scenes tour, a lost ships tour, and a sunset/moonrise tour.
For those who enjoy lighthouses and/or those who have older kids that aren’t afraid of heights, I think the lighthouse can be kept in mind for a good stop on a St. Augustine trip. It was nice that at least when I was visiting, it was more mellow and calm than the historic area. Just seriously take the cautions/warnings for those afraid of heights seriously!
St. Augustine Lighthouse- 100 Red Cox Road, St. Augustine, FL 32080