A fun time was had by all when we spent January in St. Augustine, Florida. Did you know that St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US?
Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States.– Wikipedia
So that means we had the opportunity to see lots of Spanish architecture, historical buildings, and just a cool city that was fun to explore.
There are a couple of different trolley tours available that tour the city center. We were considering taking one, but hadn’t decided on anything, when our kind neighbors at Compass RV Resort gave us their extra passes. We took the Old Town Trolley (the green one), which took a couple of hours to do the complete tour – but you can hop on and hop off at each one of the twenty three stops if you want to. Some of the sights include Flagler College, Lightner Museum, the Old Jail, and Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Of course, each site has an entry fee, some of them a little pricey. It’s a good way to get to know the city and to decide what attractions you are interested in seeing.
Castillo de San Marcos
One of the sites we were excited about exploring was Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest and largest masonry fort that was built after the previous existing wooden fort was destroyed. Unfortunately, we were only able to see the outside of the fort because of the government shutdown. Unbeknownst to us, the Castillo de San Marcos is a national monument and is therefore part of the National Park Service (we could have used our park pass!). It did reopen later in the month, but we didn’t get a chance to get back there. Something for next time!
Historic District and Restaurants
The Historic District is located near Matanzas Bay and is laid out like an ancient city where the streets are narrow (many of them are pedestrian only) and easily walkable. The majority of the museums, shops, and restaurants are located there. We didn’t do much shopping, but we did check out several of the restaurants including Pizza Time (excellent variety of tasty pizza), Pizzalleys, Columbia, Michael’s (fabulous small plates), and Collage (best fish dish ever). There were a few wine bars – our favorite was Bin 39 located in the lobby of the St. George Inn.
Other restaurants of note that were near, but not in the downtown area include Preserved (a renovated historical home), Ice Plant (located next to St. Augustine Distillery – we had cocktails and yummy appetizers there), and Crave (food truck next to the marina with smoothies, salads, bowls, and wraps).
Out and about in St. Augustine, we had to check out one of the local Mexican restaurants and we ended up at Cantina Louie, which was pretty good. We celebrated my birthday at LLama, a Peruvian restaurant with excellent food and wine. We had to try the Argentinian wine called Enzo Bianchi, in honor of our pup, and it was a fabulous find. On the main beach road, we tried Sunset Grille, Oasis, and right on the beach was Beachcomber. Farther south near Butler Beach is another good restaurant called Back 40 A1A.
St. Augustine Beach
One of the advantages of visiting this beach town in the off-season is that you can park directly on the beach without having a permit. St. Augustine has a nice beach and we enjoyed sitting in the sun with the soothing sound of the waves coming to shore – always relaxing, and Enzo loved the sand! We can imagine how busy it gets during the on-season, however, and probably wouldn’t want to deal with the crowd, the traffic, and the higher temperatures.
Compass RV Resort
Compass RV Resort is located on State Highway 207, and it ended up being a great spot for us. It was a few miles away from the main attractions, but close enough to the grocery store, the pet store, and Target. And there was a movie theater right down the road – win win! The park had recently been purchased by Sun RV Resorts and has been expanded and updated. Our site was spacious and located in the newer portion of the park with easy access to the dog park.