Begin your visit at the centerpiece of the Fountain of Youth. The Spring House is a 60-year-old coquina building that encompasses Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Eternal Hope. Spend a few moments looking at the signed guest books stretching back to 1868. And arrive thirsty because the spring is believed to hold magical powers to restore the youth of anyone who drinks from its waters.
The oldest masonry structure of its kind in the continental United States, Castillo de San Marcos was built and constructed to guard the coastline against invasion. Take some time to wander around this massive fort that overlooks the sea on the St. Augustine coast. Walk through the numerous rooms that were once home to war soldiers and prisoners. Out on the large interior courtyard, you’ll see the gun deck and enjoy magnificent views of the city.
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 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.
When visiting Villa Zorayda, make sure to leave yourself a good hour to explore this architectural and cultural gem. It’s been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and houses one of the most unique collections of antiquities in America. Such rarities on display include the “Sacred Cat Rug,” which is over 2,400 years old and said to be made from the hairs of ancient cats that roamed the Nile River. You can also see hand-carved tropical hardwood furniture and impressive interior details like the flooring and windows.
Peaceful and serene, the Mission of Nombre de Dios is a place where everyone can feel at home. Shrines and statues are surrounded by lush greenery and trees and welcome visitors from every corner of the earth. It is here that the Great Cross, which rises 208 feet, was erected in 1965 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first parish mass. The chapel, which is dedicated to Our Lady of La Leche, is a shrine which houses an exquisitely detailed carved statue of Mary nursing the baby Jesus.
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 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.
Made completely by hand, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is an architectural and historical icon in St. Augustine. 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 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.
While in the oldest city, you won’t want to miss one of the oldest structures still standing. Made of coquina stone, it’s a lovely example of both Spanish and English architecture. What makes this spot even more exciting is the detached kitchen, the only original 18th century building of its kind. Take the guided tour to learn about the home’s fascinating past, how it became an Inn and then a historic museum.
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 1700s. 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 rites 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. The figures are known for their remarkable likeness to the characters they represent due to the process that’s used to create them. Each one is custom-tailored with real hair placed on one strand at a time. The eyes are handmade in Germany and the hands are sculpted in Belgium.
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.