As a huge history buff and architecture fan, St. Augustine had been on my list for a while since moving to Florida. It’s the oldest continually inhabited town in the continental U.S… I happen to be a huge fan of colonial architecture from my time in Philly (and in general)… so I knew I had to take advantage of a trip to Jacksonville. I had some great St. Augustine experiences before and after I walked around the historic area (such as the St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine Distillery, The Floridan Restaurant, and the Castillo de San Marcos to name a few).
One of the things I liked about St. Augustine is that it’s architecture and history has a lot of variety. I found this map of the St. Augustine neighborhoods to be super helpful. The main area of St. Augustine a lot of visitors explore is the Spanish Quarter (with the Castillo de San Marcos), Flagler’s Model Land (with Flagler College and Memorial Presbyterian Church), Lincolnville (with the Lightner Museum and St. Augustine Distillery), and Old Town/Old City (with a lot of the oldest homes in St. Augustine). In these different neighborhoods you have buildings and architecture from the Spanish colonial period to the British colonial period to the 1800s to the Gilded Age at the turn of the last century.
The Spanish Quarter is where people spend a lot of time. It’s pretty packed with restaurants, stores, bars and attractions. It at times seemed a bit commercialized (kind of in a Disney-sense), but there is plenty of historic architecture to admire and the overall feel I think is still cool. I can’t recommend the Castillo de San Marcos enough. I think the Spanish Quarter would be really nice for families visiting because there are more of the attraction kind of stuff (Colonial Quarter, Pirate and Treasure Museum). I also got lucky to experience a reenactment of a battle between the Spanish and the English. They literally took over the streets of the Spanish Quarter with their period costumes, guns, and cannons (pics below). That was pretty fun!
I happen to really enjoy walking around and seeing where I end up, plus doing research on my own about a particular place before or after my visit (or right when I come across something that makes me curious). But there are tons of the little hop-on/hop-off driving trains that take you around St. Augustine to different locations and give you an overview of a lot of the sights and main attractions, if that interests you.
I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story, but I would highly recommend checking out all four of the central neighborhoods (Spanish Quarter, Flagler’s Model Land, Lincolnville, and Old Town/Old City). Old City especially I will make a plug for since there weren’t a lot of other visitors walking around (especially compared to the Spanish Quarter). There are some beautiful, historic homes in Old City and a lot of quaint, picturesque little lanes. I felt most connected to the history and beauty of St. Augustine there. I would also definitely recommend experiencing the Spanish Quarter of St. Augustine at nighttime. It had a special energy and feel at night.
I will end with two themes that I thought was very prevalent in St. Augustine- sugar and booze! It seemed like every three or four storefronts was a fudge shop (especially), an ice cream shop, a gelato shop, a Popsicle shop, etc. I had remembered seeing two St. Augustine stores on a Florida travel special- Pop N Off popcorn and The Hyppo popsicles (more on that in just a sec). On the alcohol side there is the St. Augustine Distillery, the San Sebastian winery (which I planned to visit, but ran out of time), there are numerous wine bars (including a fruit wine bar I stopped at), plus tons of bars and taverns. I definitely want to go back with a group of friends to more enjoy the nightlife.
Back to the sweet side- Pop N Off intrigued me because of their different flavors of popcorn and so I made sure to stop by there. That brand is now inside the Fudge Buckets stores (instead of a separate store). I thought I had remembered hearing about like a cheeseburger flavored popcorn with actual cheese and burger on top. Might have gotten that confused with some other place in Florida that serves that on something probably like fries. The flavors here were more standard (but still had some interesting ones). On the savory side was beer cheese, cheesy bacon, cheesy pizza, garlic parmesan, sour cream and onion (to name a few). Examples on the sweet side were cinnamon bun, peanut butter cup, banana french toast, birthday cake, and peppermint patty. I went for an order of the peanut butter cup popcorn. Since I have always been a huge fudge fan (and it took me back to time spent on Mackinac Island in Michigan), I also got a piece of Butterfinger fudge. Both were delicious, but unfortunately the smallest popcorn size is still pretty large. I quickly got way too sugared out. There was no way I could handle more sweets and try the popsicles at The Hyppo. But any fan of sugar and booze (or food in general) can find plenty to satisfy themselves in St. Augustine!
Pics from my St. Augustine adventure below and check out the main St. Augustine page for a list of everything I did!