I really love the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Until two years ago I had never even visited this lovely old city in northern Florida. On my first visit, in January of 2014, I absolutely fell in love with this unique place. Here are some of the reasons that I think it’s a pretty cool place.
1. St. Augustine is committed to preserving its historical heritage. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously-occupied European-established settlement in the New World. In St. Augustine’s historical district the old and new blend seamlessly. City governance is intentional about respecting and preserving the historical treasures which exist in St. Augustine. Recently on a walk through the city, we came upon an archaeological excavation. The city archaeologist…yes, St. Augustine has a city archaeologist, actually there are two archaeologists on the city payroll…was overseeing the dig. Apparently there are plans to install some kind of a pipe under the street. This particular area was known to have been part of an old (think 1500s) church burial ground. In order to determine where the pipes can be installed without disturbing ancient graves, or anything else of historical significance, the archaeological excavation was conducted. I just love that about this city!!!
2. Old St. Augustine has picturesque streets lined with shops, art galleries, and restaurants. There are brick streets lined with art galleries, shops, and restaurants throughout the old portion of the city. They sell works of art, tourist souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, candy, wine, etc. Walking the streets is a thoroughly enjoyable experience anytime, but especially on the first Friday of the month. Each month during First Friday Art Walk, 30 galleries stay open in the evening and provide customers with refreshments and entertainment while they are browsing the latest exhibits. Often featured artists are on hand to talk with shoppers and answer questions.
3. Water is part of St. Augustine’s DNA. The Atlantic Ocean, Matanzas Bay, and the Intracoastal Waterway have always been integral to the city and the way of life in St. Augustine. Moving around the city, the water is always there to add beauty and to inspire. I find being around water is very uplifting and calming.
Sunset from the deck at Cap’s on the Water
4. St. Augustine has beautiful historic buildings. Of course, the centerpiece of St. Augustine is Flagler College’s main building in the old Ponce de Leon hotel. But there are other lovely buildings as well. Another Flagler hotel, The Alcazar, is across the street from the Ponce de Leon. The Alcazar now houses The Lightner Museum. There are beautiful old churches in St. Augustine, most notably the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine and Memorial Presbyterian Church which was also constructed by Henry Flagler as a memorial to his daughter, Jennie Louis Benedict, who died from complications from childbirth. When Mr. MT Nest and I are in St. Augustine, we attend worship services at Memorial Presbyterian. The beauty of the church enhances the worship experience. The church also has a very special Aeolian Skinner Organ that provides music that will truly move your soul.
5. St. Augustine is beautiful at night. Inspired by the Spanish tradition of putting a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, St. Augustine holds the Nights of Lights Festival annually, beginning just before Thanksgiving and lasting until the end of January. The buildings throughout St. Augustine are illuminated with white lights every evening during the festival. There are also lights on the trees in the Public Market and on the Bridge of Lions that links the mainland to Anastasia Island. The lights illuminating this beautiful city are magical. We love to walk or drive around the city enjoying the lights.
This will be my last post about St. Augustine this year. We left it behind on January 31st and headed west toward Austin, Texas where we will spend a month exploring Austin and the Texas Hill Country for the first time. We’re excited to explore a new destination, but sad to leave beautiful St. Augustine behind until next January when we snowbirds will return.
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