If you're planning to visit Florida's First Coast, you've come to the right place! Explore information on the many area sights, entertainment and discount St. Augustine hotels and resorts, as well as restaurants.
You'll feel like you've stepped back in time as you stroll St. George Street in the historical district.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is America's oldest permanently settled European city.
Its combination of Old World charm, historical monuments, unique attractions and world-class shopping make it the ideal family vacation spot.
The city abounds with delightful attractions too numerous to name. Whether you want to explore olden lifestyles and long ago wars, marvel at unique oddities, or see re-enactments of days gone by, this historical city will provide an entire vacation's worth of activities.
Many unique tours of the city are available by horse-drawn carriage, train or trolley. Area events are known for their pageantry and individual charm Quaint bed and breakfast establishments, hotels and motels, private rental properties, condominiums and townhouses, and campground facilities assure that there's comfortable accommodations for everyone's taste and price range.
You'll find hundreds of shops scattered throughout historic landmarks offering specialty gifts such as hand made candles, woven goods and wood crafts, and resort and beach wear. With more than 35 antique shops and 20 art galleries, a bounty of treasures, from original creations by local artisans to valuable heirlooms, await discovery throughout 144 blocks of historic homes and places. Popular golf and tennis facilities are nearby, as well as boating and fishing. A few minutes away across the Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine Beach, with its smooth, sandy shores, is a popular seaside destination.
The History of St. Augustine
Founded 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 55 years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, this city is a time capsule capturing nearly 500 years of fascinating history.
It was a time of exploration for new trade routes, new lands, and treasures. The search for riches prompted explorer Don Juan Ponce de Leon to journey westward from Spain in 1513. On March 27, he became the first European to sight the North American mainland. Claiming the continent for Spain, he called it Pascua Florida, the "Feast of Flowers."
Six Spanish expeditions to settle the land between 1513 and 1563 all failed. In 1564, the French established a fort and colony on the St. Johns River, threatening the Spanish treasure fleets which sailed along Florida's shoreline.
Spanish King Philip II sent Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles to Florida to colonize the area and drive out settlers from other nations. After destroying the French garrison on the St. Johns River, Menendez set about building a town, converting the Indians, and exploring the land.
Some 20 years later, in 1586, the English corsair Sir Francis Drake attacked and burned the Old City. The Spanish rebuilt St. Augustine, but 82 years later, the pirate Captain John Davis plundered the town, killing 60 inhabitants.
In 1702 and 1740, the English once again attacked the city. Neither attack succeeded, but ironically, St. Augustine was handed to the English peacefully when Spain ceded Florida to England in 1763. From 1763 to 1821, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, Florida was returned to Spanish rule.
The United States acquired St. Augustine just in time to experience an epidemic of yellow fever and the outbreak of the Seminole War. Forty years later, during the American Civil War, the town was occupied by Union troops.
After the Civil War, Henry M. Flagler, co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, arrived with his railroad and grand ideas of making this a winter haven for the rich. He built the luxurious Ponce de Leon and Alcazar hotels as well as a number of churches and public buildings throughout town.
Numerous sites here helped shape both the state's and the nation's Black heritage. From the site where Fort Mose once stood as the nation's first Black settlement to the church steps where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on June 9, 1964, declaring he would participate in a sit-in the next day, the Black contribution is as deeply rooted to this historical city's rich history as those of the Native American, Spanish and British. Lincolnville, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was established in 1866 by freed slaves. The neighborhood was initially named "Africa," and shortly after its founding was renamed Lincolnville in honor of President Abraham Lincoln.
Presently, the Old City is, of course, quite different than it was when the colonials experienced it. Yet a visit is still an adventure.
Photo courtesy of the St. Johns County Visitor's and Convention Bureau