We arrived in St. Augustine close to noon on a Saturday in December 2016, and our first stop was the visitor's center after parking in the "Historic Downtown Parking Facility." It's $12 per day, so after we figured out what our sightseeing game plan was, we left it there and walked everywhere until we wanted to head over to the hotel at the very end of the night. We were pretty relaxed and flexible on plans, so after parking, we wanted to stop in the visitor’s center and see what our options were. The man we spoke with was very knowledgeable and answered all our questions honestly.
For lunch that day, we chose Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille, which we both thought was pretty great. I got the Jambalaya, and Chris ordered the Blackened Red Fish (I loved his dish better than mine- so delicious). It was a really nice day outside, so we sat in their beautiful patio area.
Afterward, we checked out the Castillo de San Marcos (I wrote a post about it here). It was amazing! We were there when they did one of their cannon and gun reenactments and that was the coolest part of the visit. If you take the time to go through all the ‘rooms,’ you learn a lot and it’s all very interesting. Their gift shop was where I became obsessed with trying to visit all 413 National Park entities with the National Park Passport Program!
We spent a little portion of time walking along St. George street, where we found the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. Since I’m a teacher, we both thought it’d be fun to check it out. It wasn’t the best thing we did in St. Augustine, and the ground were pretty small, but it was interesting.
By this time, it was getting close to dinner, so we walked to the hotel, which was about a mile down the road from historic St. Augustine. We took a shower, got dressed up, and headed to The Raintree for dinner, where we each had a Beef Wellington. I know it’s supposed to be served rare-medium, but the medium I got was way more on the rare side for my taste, so I didn’t enjoy it as much, but they have wonderful food!
Ripley’s Red Train tour of the Nights of Lights was our next stop, and it was CROWDED. We probably waited in line for 45 minutes or more. Honestly, I don’t think it was worth the time and effort for $11 per adult since Nights of Lights is so easily walkable. However, it was nice while we were on it- and Ripley’s has a few fun things to do while you’re waiting (though we didn’t do any of them since we didn’t want to lose our spot in line).
Café de Hidalgo was our nightcap (hello gelato!). We had a gelato (and I can’t remember the flavor, but it was amazing) and a café con leche.
We were pretty taxed at this point, so we picked up our car from the parking garage and drove to our hotel. One of the nice things about walking around everywhere previously was that we avoided most of the heavy traffic around the historic district due to the lights and peak hours.
We tried to get an early start the next morning (a Sunday, around 7:30 am), but everything was closed until 9 or 10, so we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel, packed up, and headed out around 8:30 to visit Fort Matanzas (post about that coming soon!).
Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Matthew a few months prior, the actual Fort was closed (which you have to take a ferry to). However, we could walk around the acreage that you have to enter through to get to the ferry shuttle, which still belongs to the park service. We took pictures of the Fort from the dock and watched a video about the Fort. We wanted to hike around their site but I wasn’t properly dressed, there were thousands of mosquitos, and there were places we still wanted to visit.
The Colonial Quarter was next, and we had a great time, mostly because our tour guide, Ellie, was fantastic and reminded me of one of my best friends. There was a lot to learn and I was honestly really intrigued by the information shared on our tour and by the things that were demonstrated (flint lock pistol and blacksmithing) definitely worth a stop in!
After our small hotel breakfast, we really wanted a nice lunch, so we went to the Cafe Alcazar, located in the Lightner museum, where the biggest indoor pool used to be. It had a very cool vibe, and the food was great (fruit an cheese platter, and sandwiches)- I would eat there again!
One of Chris’ biggest requests was to check out the St. Augustine Distillery, so there we went… and we had a blast! We took the free tour to see what they do behind the scenes. Again, we had a fantastic tour guide who was extremely knowledgeable and made killer drinks for everyone to sample. This tour was a highlight of our trip!
We knew we needed to leave soon, so we spent about an hour browsing shops along St. George street where we found a couple great Christmas gifts, and stopped in the Hyppo ice pops place- Chris had the Cucumber Lemon Mint pop and I had the Watermelon Hibiscus pop- both were on point! (p.s. you can order some online)
Overall, it was an amazing time! I wish we had one more day, because we wanted to do the Lightner museum and the Spanish Military Hospital museum (and another day would've given us some more time to browse shops along St. George street).
Have you been to St. Augustine? What was your favorite part of your trip?
Blog posts from 2014-2015 were transferred from my original blog on blogger, Oshiro Design, to my updated website, oshirodesigns.com