On the road to completing our goal of visiting all fifty states we needed to visit Florida. We have long wanted to visit Key West, but the length of the drive and overall cost of the trip dissuaded us. We stumbled upon St. Augustine while browsing the web. Upon learning that St. Augustine is America’s oldest city and discovering all that the city had to offer we made the decision to choose St. Augustine as our first Florida destination. The mild Florida winter was also a very appealing factor for taking the trip.
The drive to St. Augustine, while not overly lengthy, consisted mainly of travelling Interstate 95. I-95 has never been one of our favorite roads to travel. The trip from our home in North Carolina to St. Augustine had no better route than choosing I-95. Overall the trip was uneventful although the trip across South Carolina seemed to be never ending.
Upon arriving in St. Augustine we checked into The Cozy Inn where we had previously booked a small town house. Our initial impressions of the lodging were extremely positive. The townhouse consisted of two levels. On the lower level was a quaint living room and a small but efficient kitchen. The second floor housed the bedroom with a queen sized bed and a full bathroom. We were very pleased by the location of our townhouse as it was close to all of the attractions.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm
The Alligator farm was high on our lists of things to see in St. Augustine. There’s a lot more to see here than just alligators. It’s really more like a zoo filled with exotic animals with the main attraction being the alligators. We were lucky enough to be there during the alligator feeding. It was interesting to see that the alligators knew what time they were going to be fed as they were already making their way to the feeding area beforehand. This attraction was definitely worth the time and money we spent!
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Over the years we’ve been to a fair number of lighthouses up and down the Atlantic Coast. Previously we had only climbed to the top of a couple though. The St. Augustine lighthouse dates back to the 1800’s. In addition to the lighthouse there is also an old ass house, visitors center and museum to tour. Ashley and I climbed to the top of the lighthouse where we were greeted by a guide who told us about the history of the lighthouse. After hearing a brief history, we ventured outside and were almost blown away by very strong winds! The view from the top of the lighthouse was awesome!
We found parking for the historic district in a garage for a modest fee. Another great option for St. Augustine tourists are the many trolley services available. After parking we made our way into the visitor’s center which was conveniently located across from the parking garage. Excited to see the historical sites we skimmed over some of the artifacts that were featured inside of the visitor’s center.
This part of St. Augustine dates back hundreds of years. We found lots of shops, very old architecture, and restaurants. The amount of history here is overwhelming. It’s hard to take it all in at once. We spent several hours walking through the historic streets taking in the sights and smells of St. Augustine.
After lunch we walked onto the Bridge of Lions. which spans the Intracoastal Waterway. From here, we walked to Castillo de San Marcos. The crowds here weren’t bad although I’m sure during peak tourist season that may be a different story. The fort was built using Coquina which we both found very interesting. Cannons here had been sourced from many different locations and varied in age. We highly recommend visiting this fort as it played an integral role in the history of St. Augustine.
Anastasia State Park
Just down the road from St. Augustine Lighthouse we found Anastasia State Park. After paying a modest fee we found ample parking near the beach. The beach here was extremely wide and almost completely empty. We intended to take a short stroll down the beach however we quickly got lost in the beautiful views and relaxing sounds of the ocean. In addition to the beach, there is also hiking, camping, a restaurant and many other activities at this park. We definitely plan to spend more time exploring the next time we’re in St. Augustine.
Washington Oaks State Park & Beach
We didn’t originally plan to go to Washington Oaks State Park. Rough seas prevented us from going to Fort Matanzas National Monument which led to us finding Washington Oaks. The park is split by Florida A1A with a beach side and a garden side. Although the flowers had not yet bloomed, the gardens were absolutely gorgeous. Meandering trails led us past a beautiful bay, orange trees, rose gardens, trees covered with Spanish moss, vegetable garden, and several small ponds.
As soon as we walked onto the beach side of the park we came upon some volunteer workers releasing a huge sea turtle thing back into the ocean. Ashley has always loved turtles, so she was amazed! After the turtle made its way back into the wild, we continued exploring the beach. This beach has some very unique rock formations which are made up of coquina. We spent a lot of time here exploring the beach, both of us taken aback by its beauty. It didn’t hurt that there were very few other people on the beach either. Between the gardens and the amazing beach, I would definitely recommend you check out this park!