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Lots of folks say St. Augustine is beautiful, and a Florida travel book I purchased concurred with those sentiments. It’s the oldest continuously established city in our nation, so it’s full of history and historical architecture. We made a long weekend out of the trip and were not disappointed in the place. There really is a lot to see and do in the city, even if some of it is a bit “touristy”. We did a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour two days, so we learned a lot about Henry Flagler and the history of our oldest city.

Long Weekend in St. Augustine: 09/16/16-09/18/16

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Castillo de San Marcos was built between 1672 and 1695. The fort has been in battle a number of times, but it has never been taken by force. It is the oldest masonry fort in the U.S., with it’s walls being 14’ thick in places, built out of coquina (limestone and seashells).


The lighthouse on Anastasia Island was built in 1874. We climbed the 219 steps up to the top of the oldest brick structure in St. Augustine. The view from the top reaches approximately 20 miles out, and gave us nice shots of the fort and city to the left, along with the Matanzas River and Atlantic below. At night, we had a wonderful shot of the full moon rising behind the lighthouse.

Tolomato Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery with burials back to the 1700s.

The first stop on the trolley where we got off was at Flagler College, which was built as Henry Flagler’s (portrait) Hotel Ponce de Leon in 1887. We were able to do a tour by one of the college students and the history and architecture was magnificent. Only the wealthy could stay there, as they were required to occupy rooms for the entire winter season. The building was made of coquina and had running water and electricity from the onset. There were murals and gold figurines everywhere. The dining hall seats about 600 and has Tiffany stained glass windows.

We then went into the Lightner Museum across the street, which was built as the Alcazar Hotel in 1888 by Flagler again. This was the party hotel, with bowling, a steam bath, and indoor swimming pool.


We did a tour of the Whetstone Chocolate Factory, where we learned the company hand-makes all their specialty chocolates and the big boys often relabel it. We donned pretty hair nets and saw them making some of their products.

A gift from Flagler—because the old jail was too close to his Ponce de Leon Hotel—the jail was built in 1891. The tour was both educational and entertaining.

The History Museum contains a lot of  artifacts from Florida’s 400 years of history.

The Oldest Store looks and feels like it did in the late 1800’s.


More stops on the trolley included the beautiful Magnolia Avenue (above) that is lined with live oak trees and not magnolias; the Father Lopez statue and Great Cross (right) that signify the landing of Don Pedro Menendez and his priest in 1565; the current City Gate (left) was built in 1808, but the original was created in the 1700’s to allow entry into the walled city, specifically it’s most famous street, St. George Street (lower left and below right). The oldest wooden school house sits on St. George Street and was built over 200 years ago.

A replica of the Statue of David sits at Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and was the last of our sightseeing tour.