One of my favorite things about living in Orlando, Florida, is how easy it is to get away from Orlando, Florida. Having grown up in California, and living so long in Brazil, I have this concept in my mind that everything unfamiliar is extremely far away. Today we’re going to talk about an easy to do day trip from Orlando to the historic city of St. Augustine.
ST. AUGUSTINE WELCOMES YOU
Everything about the city reminded me of when I did Pioneer Days as a kid back in California. From the gate, everything I did was a historic adventure, from the Oldest Schoolhouse to the markets and restaurants all up and down the avenue. Everything was focused on immersing you in the old-timey feeling of a colonial town and, by the end of it, I was sure feeling ready to don a tricorn hat and bring my ass to anchor! (Sit down)
Next on the list was to visit El Castillo de San Marcos a real live castle in the United States! An excellent spot for tourism, and a great draw to St. Augustine. Entry was reasonable ($15 at the time of writing, valid for a full week if you show the receipt!) you could walk all around, have a great view of the city, and of the Matanzas river. Most of the structure is intact or restored, and with cannons all around I couldn’t help but imagine myself back then feel the authenticity of the stone walls around me. I am very much someone who wants to touch everything, and feeling the texture of these oxidized old canons, and smelling the metal, really brought me into the experience. The sun was blazing hot though, so it was time to move on.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH!
The final stop was at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. This was a bit of a walk from the castle (about 20 minutes), but another great stop in what turned out to be a very period themed day! The “Fountain of Youth” was a little disappointing, and tasted like sulfur anyhow so it might have the opposite effect. The other attractions were wonderful though! Canons, peacocks, boats, real explosives, and a demonstration on practical blacksmithing (making nails and such) were all fascinating, and the staff were great fun, and knowledgeable! I took a wrong turn at the end though, and had a very aggressive staff member get very close to me and tell me I had to leave (while I was trying to) and follow me all the way to the front without telling me where I was supposed to leave from. It was a bit of a sour note on an otherwise great experience, and I’m happy to say that I got the peacock to pose like I wanted him to right before the end of the day!
HOW TO PREPARE
Check the weather, everything interesting is outside, or near enough to it.
Bring water! Florida tap water isn’t the best tasting, and Florida sun is HOT!
Make plans based on the time of Sunrise and Sunset, your best Sunrise photos will likely be off the coast or at the Castle, but the Sunset brings a lot of possibilities!
Ultimately if you’re looking for a day where you can enjoy a small town vibe, great local restaurants, and feel immersed in history, St. Augustine is the place to go!