A Whistle Stop Tour of St Augustine - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Beautiful architecture in St Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos seen from the water
Castillo de San Marcos
St George Street
St George Street
On our most recent trip to Orlando we decided to see a little more of Florida and booked three nights in St Augustine, which is located on the Atlantic coast thirty five miles south of Jacksonville and around a hundred miles north east of Orlando.
From our research St Augustine was described as the oldest town in the USA with plenty of history to boot. That is certainly the impression upon arrival with a proliferation of trolley tours and ghost walks vying for the tourist trade. They are all eager, not only to point out the major places of interest, but also to give you chapter and verse on the 18th century conflicts involving the English, Spanish and French.
These tours are an ideal way to acquaint yourselves with the delights of St Augustine and its immediate environs, and for around $20 per person they represent good value for money. Many allow the visitor to hop on and off at their leisure, so time at any given location is not just limited to a few minutes.
When writing about St Augustine it is sometimes difficult not to resort to a history lesson, so we have attempted to concentrate our efforts on providing a general overview of the city. We will leave you to discover the historical significance of the many landmarks and buildings you will no doubt happen upon during your visit.
All the hotels provide street maps and most places of interest are well marked and within easy walking distance of each other.
The old city gates, just across the road from the impressive Castillo de San Marcos, lead to St George Street, the main thoroughfare of St Augustine, which has been pedestrianised and is a vibrant area full of shops, art galleries, small piazzas and intimate courtyards, all well worth exploring.
Here you will also find the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, the De Mesa-Sanchez House, the Arrivas House, and the Avero House, now the St. Photios Greek Shrine…. all worth a visit, but be warned there is nearly always an admission charge.
Beyond the cathedral is Aviles Street, which is the gateway to the historic district with its numerous colonial buildings presenting an impressive array of 18th century architecture. Slightly further afield, but still within walking distance, are the Lightner Museum and the magnificent Flagler College.
Those more energetic amongst may be tempted to take the twenty-minute stroll to the end of King Street where the San Sebastian winery offers free tours and tastings.
St. Augustine retains the feel of a Spanish colonial walled town, much of which has been preserved or restored. For those of you with a couple of days to spare who enjoy history and architecture…this is this place to be.
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Page added on: 7 July 2008
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