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Your guide to St. Augustine
All about St. Augustine
Founded in 1565 by a Spanish admiral, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the United States. Some historians believe this is the first place the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon struck ashore after his sail across the Atlantic Ocean. The streets are lined with Spanish colonial-style and Moorish architecture, and the city’s sprawling historical district is home to cobblestone streets and buildings dating back to the 1700s. It’s easy to get lost in the past here, but you’re still in Florida, so when you need a break from wandering the centuries-old streets, you can seek respite at pretty Vilano Beach, a ten-minute drive from downtown.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in St. Augustine?
The summer in St. Augustine is hot and wet. June through September bring highs in the 80 and 90s Fahrenheit and frequent rain showers. If you’re coming here for a vacation during these months, pack light, breathable clothes and bring an umbrella or waterproof clothing. October through May brings temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the high 70s. The coldest month is January, with an average high of 66 degrees. The city is also prone to occasional flooding, so bring some waterproof shoes along with your flipflops.
What are the top things to do in St. Augustine?
Castillo de San Marcos
Built in 1695 to fend off marauding pirates and other enemies, the imposing and stately Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest stone fort in the nation. Its walls, which are built from coquina — limestone formed by ancient shells — are 14 feet thick in some places. You can explore the vaulted casements (chambers where food, ship repair materials, and up to 200,000 cannonballs were stored) and climb the stone steps to the gun deck where up to 60 cannons were mounted. Check the website for a schedule of live reenactments, which include cannon firings.
Villa Zorayda Museum
A millionaire hardware merchant from Boston modeled his winter home in St. Augustine on the Alhambra, a 35-acre palace in Spain built over 1,000 years ago. Built in 1883 from a mixture of coquina and concrete, the Moorish-style house is an ornate tribute to what money can buy, with a three-story tower and a two-story interior atrium ringed by horseshoe arches. The house is now a museum that houses eccentric antiques, including the Sacred Cat Rug, which is reportedly 2,400 years old and woven from Egyptian cat hair.
ACCORD Freedom Trail
One of St. Augustine’s most historically significant neighborhoods is known for its role in the Civil Rights movement. Lincolnville, founded by freedmen after the Civil War, was a nexus for activism in the 1960s, when Black residents risked their lives to desegregate local businesses, staged sit-ins and protests, and played a vital role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited St. Augustine several times, and was arrested here when participating in a protest at a segregated restaurant. Visit the ACCORD Freedom Trail website to find a self-guided tour and detailed descriptions of 31 historical sites marked with interpretive plaques.