Our first place to visit while staying at Pellicer Creek Campground was the town of St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European established settlement and port in the entire continental United States. It was founded in 1565 some 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock… wow!!! Much of the city was destroyed by the British in 1702 but there are 36 buildings of colonial origin still remaining today. Since we love to walk we wanted to tour the city so we made our way over to the visitor center. When we asked about walking tours they strongly suggested that it was too far to walk and would take too much time… they suggested we take a touring train.
Hah! They don’t know us very well as we picked up some maps and made our way over to the waterfront in search of a parking place. It was very crowded this day because it was Veteran's Day. We probably should have waited another day but since we were here we decided to just do it… A nice thing about the holiday was that the normally $1.50 per hour parking meters were free due to the holiday… score one for us. After parking along the waterfront we paused to enjoy the draw bridge and ships while eating our picnic lunch. We browsed the maps and plotted out a loop walk of about 3 miles. This allowed us to view historical and architectural sights while avoiding the crowded shopping areas.
We made our way inland noticing the beautifully landscaped neighborhoods along narrow streets with patches of exposed cobblestone. The Spanish architecture predominant in St Augustine is breathtaking. Some of it was very simple while other buildings were extremely ornate. On this sunny warm day we found many a stop to take in the beauty and/or to photograph the sights. Flagler College and the nearby former Ponce De Leon Hotel were amazing examples of the style unique to this town. And as we stepped into the lobby of the main administrative building for Flagler College the same ornate style carried over to the inside where there were beautifully carved mahogany accents, gold foil accents, wallpaper decor, fantastic Spanish floor tile and spectacular paintings. What an awesome place to be a student. The main courtyard was bustling with students so we sat amongst the palms for a time to soak in the energy.
From there we wanted to see the historic churches built by Henry Flagler who as the son of a minister loved building churches that he hoped would be enjoyed by many future generations. One magnificent church near the college is where he is interred. He built this church in honor of a daughter who died tragically. The church is spectacular and visitors are always welcome. The next church we visited was much smaller but also beautiful in its simplicity.
Next we made our way over to Castillo de San Marcos National Monument where to our amazement the tours this day were also free! We would have gotten in free anyhow with our National parks Pass. In addition we arrived just as the period costumed rangers were staging a canon firing demonstration. It was very impressive and I am sure our grandkids would have loved it. The Fort, construction started in 1672, also offered amazing views of the city and waterways. We took in all the historical significance this fort endured. When we completed our tour we elected to return to our car via the walkway along the water front thus ending our day with water views we both enjoy.
To celebrate another great day in Florida we stopped on our way home at Cafe 11 and visited their bar for some nice crafted beer…