Saturday, January 26, 2013

St. Augustine, Florida: A Sliver of Paradise

OK~ We stumbled upon St. Augustine, Florida, several years ago on one of our vacations to Walt Disney World. We knew we had an extra day to spare and took a glance at the map. We took note that St. Augustine could be a nice little jaunt off of the I-75 corridor. Let's just say we had such a fabulous visit, so fabulous; that we have returned several times since.

St. Augustine Beach, Florida

St. Augustine is truly a little sliver of paradise. The beaches are beautiful (at least to this Iowa Mom), the historical sites are stunning, and the charm of this city is truly one of a kind. Here are some of the highlights from the oldest city in the United States.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is well worth a visit. Yes, this is a historical site and it does cost money to get into. Keep in mind, your ticket is good for seven days. Parking can be challenging. The city of St. Augustine manages the parking area right in front of the entrance, but can be quite packed early in the day. We have found that it is much cheaper and convenient to park in one of the parking garages in St. Augustine. These garages offer convenience, as well as shade. There is one parking garage approximately one block from the monument, definitely worth checking into. Plan on spending a minimum of two hours here. The upper portion of the fort is only accessible by stairs, so plan accordingly if you are traveling with a stroller or wheelchair. There is much to explore and see without going up to the upper gun deck. Although I must say, the view from the upper gun deck is pretty cool.

Castillo de San Marcos: National Monument

Bring a good pair of walking shoes or sandals. If you really want to see the city, you will want to walk. There are private train/trolley tours that operate throughout the city, but even those offer stops where you will need to walk. The shops here are not only charming, but they are also very unique and fun. Here you will find kite shops, antique shops, candy shops, as well as art galleries. In all the years we have visited, we have always been able to easily spend a whole day checking out all the shops. During that time frame our boys would have been two-twenty years old. The ages of our boys never kept us from experiencing the shops of St. Augustine. Oh yeah, and there are restaurants all over the place. Most have the menus out front, which will give you a pretty good idea as to what the cost and dress code are. The majority of the restaurants are family friendly with a casual dress code.

The beaches out on Highway A1A South are beautiful! The sand is fine, the surf is good, and the sunshine is all around. You will find seashells and a cozy hotel and/or resort to call your home. One of the most affordable, welcoming hotels we have found out on this corridor is La Fiesta Ocean Inn and Suites. The swimming pool is heated (when we first stayed here, it was not) and the rooms are clean with a hop, skip, and a jump to the beach. Located right on the main drag, this Inn will not disappoint.

Fun In The Pool At La Fiesta Ocean Inn And Suites

Spring Break is quickly approaching. Make your vacation plans today. St. Augustine, Florida will not disappoint you and your family. There is so much history, great food, and I almost forgot- you will more than likely have a "ghostly" experience while in the area, as well. Yep, I had one while dining at Harry's Seafood Bar And Grille~ The food was fabulous and the ghostly experience~ One that I have lived to tell about! That is a whole other story in itself.

Go experience St. Augustine, Florida!  Enjoy the beach, history, shops, ghosts, and everything else you can find while in the oldest city in the United States. Find your sliver of paradise this Spring in St. Augustine, Florida.

*I did not receive any product or monetary compensation for this post. My family and I paid for our food, lodging, park entrance fees and everything else while in the St. Augustine area.

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