St. Augustine, FL
178 Miles, 3 Hrs. (41 miles below Jacksonville, FL)
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States. Forty-two years before the English colonized Jamestown and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish established at St. Augustine this nation's first enduring settlement. St. Augustine is known as the "Ancient City".
St. Augustine's rich heritage make the city and its surroundings a unique getaway. St. Augustine offers four centuries of history. Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets of St. Augustine and visit the quaint cafes and unique shops. Visit the many museums and also the landmark of Ponce de Leon's "Fountain of Youth" and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
Henry Flagler was a great influence in St. Augustine. On a honeymoon visit to St. Augustine with his second wife Flagler had a vision of the sleepy town as a winter playground for the rich. He built three beautiful hotels within walking distance of each other.
The first of Henry Flagler's three great hotels, the Ponce de Leon, was adapted for use as an institution of higher learning in 1971. As Flagler College, it expanded and had a student body of some 1,700 by the end of the century, offering a traditional four-year arts and science degree program.
Historical Tours of Flagler College highlight the architectural heritage of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, a nationally designated historic landmark building, built by Henry Flagler in 1888. Flagler spared no expense on the interior opulence of the Hotel. Louis Comfort Tiffany was the interior designer and his legacy continues in the many beautiful stained glass windows of the Dining Hall. The Rotunda is an 80-foot domed ceiling supported by eight ornately carved oak pillars. The interior dome displays beautiful murals by George Maynard. The 800 seat Dining Hall has beautiful elliptical barrel-vaulted ceiling, pierced with Tiffany stained-glass windows, musicians’ galleries, and carved oak chairs imported from Austria.
Flagler built 2 other hotels in St. Augustine. The Alcazar which today is the Lightner Museum and next to the museum is the Casa Monica Hotel which is the third hotel built by Flagler. It is one of the oldest operating hotels in the US.
St. Augustine has 43 miles of beaches. Some of the beaches permit vehicles and dogs while others only allow pedestrians. From single vantage points in town, you can experience both the joy of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean horizon and the peacefulness of the sun setting beyond the salt marsh along the intracoastal waterway.
If you love to golf or play tennis, St. Augustine is the place for you! There are many golf courses and tennis resorts located in the area. The many marinas in the area. There is also fishing, diving, surfing, para-sailing and other water.
St. Augustine has a variety of lodging options. The accommodations range from hotels, bed and breakfasts, condominiums, resorts, campgrounds, marinas and vacation rentals.