Day two of our ten day road trip found us in the historic city of Saint Augustine, Florida – an area which I have been longing to explore for some time now due to it’s history of being the oldest city in the USA. How totally awesome is that? And because it is the oldest city in the USA, it comes with a lot of historic sights that I have been dreaming to see – some date back to the 1500’s! Since I had such a long list of sights and attractions that I wanted to check out and because we were short on time, we had to plan ahead and opted for one of the quickest and easiest ways to get around the city – the trolley. Plus we made the most of our time by deciding ahead of time what sights we knew we couldn’t miss. In all our day spent in St. Augustine was amazing – but totally not long enough.
Getting Around The City in The Old Town Trolley
St. Augustine is very much a walk-able area – as long you’ve got the right shoes and the time for it. Unfortunately on this visit we did not. We were on a mission to explore as much of the area as possible within our 24 hour road trip stop. I thankfully came prepared to the area with a list of the places I simply could not miss seeing and found that if we grabbed passes to tour the area on the Old Town Trolley we had a better chance of checking more of these places off our list. This was because the trolley not only served as a tour guide to the city, but as a means of getting from one attraction to another – the Old Town Trolley made stop near over 100 popular points of interest.
Besides simply getting a ride around town and learning about the facts of the area from the experienced tour guides (which for us is enough to take a ride) the Old Town Trolley passes also gives you free admission to the St. Augustine History Museum. Plus, this option makes even more sense for those spending the weekend because the passes for the trolley are good for three consecutive days and guests are allowed as many on/off privileges as they want!
5 Sights Not To Miss in St. Augustine | Traveling with Kids
I was honestly surprised at how much there was to do in this area besides enjoying the beautiful architecture and learning about it’s rich history – and eating (but I love to do that everywhere). I could also easily see how this area would be a wonderful destination for those traveling without kids – but because we were traveling as a family we chose to see attractions that would work best for the us all collectively. These were our top picks.
Ripley Believe It or Not Museum
Since this was my very first visit to any Ripley’s Odditorium, stopping at the very first permanent Ripleys attraction seemed fitting for this trip – it had history. Not only was this three story historic location filled with over 800 weird and shocking items, but it also houses some of Ripley’s original collection. My husband and I both found it pretty interesting, but our young kids were both scared at times because many of the attractions made noises when you approached them and some of the shocking statues looked extremely real. But to be fair, the artifacts in this museum would shock and amaze almost anyone.
Fountain of Youth
A spring that could restore my youth? Agh – what mother doesn’t wish to see that? After leaving Ripley’s we jumped back on the trolley tour which took us over to the Fountain of Youth. As we walked along a dirt path through swarms of beautiful peacocks we were welcomed to enter into a small building which houses the Fountain of Youth. Next to the small fountain were cups which guests could use to capture some of the water flowing out from in between the rocks – to either drink or dump on their skin. Those who did drink from the spring that day said that it had a very weird taste and smell – unlike the water you would find in your tap. I really wanted to but I wasn’t brave enough to drink any this time.
After seeing the fountain we were welcomed to explore the rest of the grounds which included an old archaeological site, an ancient burial ground, and a reconstructed Mission of Nombre de Dios church. The architecture and history here was fascinating and we spend many hours simply wandering around and learning about the area and it’s ancient inhabitants.
As we exited through the gift shop, I was tempted to buy a jar of the fountain water to bring home with me. You never know, there might be a day when I wished I had it.
Oldest Store Museum
We definitely made it our mission to search out the most historical spots on the list the visit – like the Old Jail and the Oldest Store Museum. Luckily, both of these attractions were within the same trolley stop and right next door to each other. The Oldest Store museum, which guests are given a fully guided tour of, is filled to the brim with fascinating turn of the century products, medicines, and food items. Some of the products undeniably set the stage for a few of the common household items we own today – however some of the items in the museum have over the years found their way into extinction as rightfully so. Seriously, who thought some of those inventions were a good idea?
The museum tour only took about a half hour and we were given a stick of candy to enjoy while we browsed the building and listened to the guide share quite a bit of interesting history and a also quite a few laughs.
Old City St. Augustine
During our visit, I was most excited to check out the old historic city which to this day still has it’s large gate and doors proudly displayed – and luckily opened for us. As we rode along on the trolley towards to Old City stop we were told the story of the old gates – which used to be closed each evening and opened each morning. The story told that those who didn’t make it back into the city before the doors closed were left to sleep outside the walls.
Once past the giant doors, we found the old city roads to be still bustling with vendors, music and people. Eclectic shops lined the streets and the incredible smell of different styles of food filled the air. Mmm. . we were enthralled with the scents and sounds and wanted to explore everything! One sight worth seeking out in the Old City is the Oldest Wooden School House dating back to the early 18th century – it still sits right downtown in between the shops and restaurants. Don’t miss it.
Since the city of St. Augustine had so much to see and do for every member of our family, we wanted to take a moment and head over to the beach to relax. Finding a beach wasn’t hard since it seemed every time I looked up from a destination, I could see the ocean peering back at me. While we could have easily walked over to the water at any given point, we decided to jump back in our vehicle and drive over to a beach that wasn’t so busy so we could search for shells – my kids favorite past time when visiting Florida. When we arrived to Vilano Beach we saw a path that welcomed cars to drive out on the sand. Luckily, we were in the 2016 Ford F150 and had no problem switching it into 4H to head on out without a worry of getting stuck. This wasn’t an opportunity we often get in our vintage cars – so we took it!
The wind was fierce that day but the white sand was full of gorgeous broken and discarded shells – which my kids both quickly claimed for themselves. For my collection – they would say.
Historic Cajun Inspired Cuisine with a Modern Twist
After a fun filled day in St. Augustine we were ready to find a nice place to settle down for dinner. Our hotel concierge suggested Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill which was nearby in the old city. We commonly ask for advice from our hotel in finding places to dine and so far we’ve had amazing meals because of it – this was no exception. The food at Harry’s had a Cajun, Creole and Southern flavor base – however they seemed to give their items a nice modern twist which we loved.
After having everyone at our table clear their plates, we knew that ordering dessert was definitely in order. After all, we were on vacation and the menu offered another modern twist to a classic – Oreo stuffed Beignets.
Our time spent in St. Augustine was indeed an adventure, but we needed to get back on the road to finish up the rest of our ten day road trip. Plus, we were only a few hours away from our next stop and the excitement from the kids was building. Be sure to join us on our next adventure as we explore Walt Disney World.
Have you visited St. Augustine? What was your favorite attraction? What do you hope to not miss next time?
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