Encompassing 15 acres of lush Old Florida landscape, The Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park in St. Augustine is the perfect way to spend a day in the Nation’s Oldest City. It’s also considered the state’s oldest attraction and houses thousands of years of history like nowhere else.
The oldest masonry structure of its kind in the continental United States, Castillo de San Marcos was built by the Spanish in 1672. Constructed to guard the coastline against invasion, the historic fort was occupied by military forces for more than 250 years before being deactivated and taken over by the National Park System.
What better place to study Liberal Arts than inside an oasis of architectural beauty? Flagler College, situated on the grounds of the original Ponce de Leon Hotel, offers students four-year degrees in several dozen areas of study. The hotel was built in 1888 and was known for its opulent setting and luxurious amenities. Many millions of dollars have been spent renovating and restoring the historic buildings, and visitors as well as students spend many hours just enjoying the ambiance.
Elegance and history, grace and sophistication all come together in the glorious rooms, walkways and exhibits at the Lightner Museum. Originally The Hotel Alcazar, the building was built by Henry Flagler and is a magnificent example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Browse through costumes, furnishings, mechanical musical instruments and collections that bring back the grand Gilded Age, a marvelous period in the 19th century. See beautiful works of cut glass, Victorian art glass and the celebrated work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tour the museum and take a historical journey that will not soon be forgotten.
Built in 1883 as the winter residence of Franklin W. Smith, the Villa Zorayda Museum in historic downtown St. Augustine is one of the most fascinating places to visit in northeast Florida. Modeled after a section of the grand Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, this once lavish home now serves as a museum and is open to the public. Also known as Zorayda Castle, this unique structure has a long and colorful history. When completed in the late 1800s by Smith, an eccentric Boston millionaire, it became the first poured concrete and crushed coquina building in St. Augustine. Today, Villa Zorayda continues to inspire the local architectural landscape.
A St. Augustine attraction for history enthusiasts, curious souls and those who enjoy marvelous architecture, The Oldest House Museum Complex offers many things for many people. Owned and operated by the St. Augustine Historical Society, the complex includes Florida’s Oldest House, two museums, a changing exhibition gallery, an ornamental garden, and a museum store. The González-Alvarez House is the oldest surviving Spanish Colonial home in Florida.
An incredible adventure for kids and adults of all ages, the Pirate & Treasure Museum offers visitors a chance to journey back 300 years to the era of the Golden Age of Piracy. This unique museum showcases one of the largest collections of rare pirate artifacts in the world including Captain Thomas Tew’s 17th Century Treasure Chest and the Journal of Captain Kidd’s Final Voyage in 1699.
The Scenic Cruise company was founded more than a century ago when Frank Usina and his wife settled in North Beach, which at the time was only accessible by boat. In the early days, Frank would ferry guests of the Ponce de Leon Hotel and Alcazar Hotel back and forth from St. Augustine to North Beach, showing them the beautiful sites along the way and treating them to oysters, Minorcan cuisine, music and dancing.
Walk in amazement and wonder as you see more than 800 exhibits at Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. Everything from the weird and unusual to the exotic is on display and ready to excite and entertain people of all ages. The museum is the original Ripley’s Believe it or Not, opening in 1950 just a few months after Robert Ripley’s death. Here, people can explore and interact, witness incredible illusions and see for themselves what Ripley collected from his travels around the world—many too outlandish to believe.
Like so many other sites in St. Augustine, the Lighthouse is a cherished landmark from another era. It’s significant for two main reasons—first because of its role as a vital watchtower that led ships safely into the St. Augustine port for more than a hundred years and second because of its longstanding survival as an architectural icon to the city. The original lighthouse was closed in 1874 on the same day that the new one was completed.
Visit the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine to be amazed, intrigued and thoroughly entertained. Do things like pet an alligator, watch a feeding and see wild species like Albino Alligators, herons, spoonbills and woodstorks. You’ll also get a gander at toucans, parrots, Australian emus and seven different types of monkeys. Gaze in amazement at Maximo, a 36-year-old, 15 foot, 1,250 pound Crocodile. If his massive size and weight don’t astound you, the story of his life, so far, probably will. He was captured as an egg in Australia and was donated to the United States.
Made completely by hand, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is an architectural and historical icon in St. Augustine. Red cedar and cypress along with wooden pegs date this antiquated building and enhance its charm and importance in our nation’s past. Dating back to the early 18th century, a visit to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is an inspiring experience. Originally the building had no electricity, no running water, no kitchen or bathroom. The kitchen was purposely put in a separate building to avoid the dangers of fire.
The Spanish Quarter, also known as the Colonial Quarter, captures the essence of St. Augustine’s rich heritage. A visit here takes you back more than 300 years and offers you a chance to engage in a variety of interesting activities and see numerous points of interest. There is much to do and see in and around this historic area.
The Pirate Ship Black Raven is a one-of-a-kind live pirate show full of music, thrills and pure entertainment! Participate in our adventure, sing along with our crew, and find your inner pirate while you see the beautiful sights of the Matanzas River.
The Schooner Freedom gives its guests an opportunity to experience a sail reminiscent of an authentic 19th century Blockade Runner. St. Augustine’s own tall ship, the Freedom was constructed in 1982 and is a double masted 72’ replica of the topsail ships of that time. Choose a fun-filled day sail or relaxing evening cruise—your two hours on board this spectacular vessel will include music, sightseeing and perhaps even manatees, dolphins and other friendly wildlife.
The Spanish Military Hospital Museum offers visitors a look into how healthcare operated during the Spanish Colonial Period. The building that the museum is housed in is a reconstruction of a Military Hospital that was on the same site in the late 1700’s. As you tour the museum, you’ll be given an inside look into how patients were treated here. From the ward beds to the surgeon’s tools and even the mourning room where patient’s last rights were given by Priests, the museum is an interesting and unique spot to see.
Potter’s Wax Museum is located on Orange Avenue in historic St. Augustine and offers visitors a unique opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous people up close. America’s first and oldest wax museum, it was founded by George Potter, a man who traveled around the world as a young child with his family. It was during one of his many trips that Potter visited a London wax museum and became inspired to create his own wax sculptures in America.
According to historians, St. Augustine is believed to be the birthplace of American wine dating back to 1562. And so it only makes sense that one of the country’s premier wineries, San Sebastian Winery, would call the Nation’s Oldest City home.
Henry Flagler was a powerhouse and catalyst for change in the real estate and transportation industries. His contributions to Florida are documented and displayed throughout the St. Augustine History Museum. As you tour through, you’ll also see authentic artifacts, unpublished photographs and learn about the evolution of St. Augustine and Florida under Spanish and British rule.
Home to prisoners for over 60 years, the Old Jail in St. Augustine looks more like a resort than a maximum-security facility. The original structure was built in 1891 by Henry Flagler; and although it has been restored and renovated throughout the years, it looks very much the way it did when it opened over a century ago.