The oldest city in the country, St. Augustine, has great attractions, great dining and will make the "Ancient City" an amazing destination.
At a driving distance of 2 and a half hours, the historic town of St. Augustine is a bit far to be considered for a day trip away from the Villages of Citrus Hills. However, the oldest city in the country is absolutely perfect if you are looking to plan a great weekend getaway that is packed with fun attractions and great dining!
In St. Augustine, you will be free to fill your weekend in pretty much any way you like. Whether you choose to relax on the beach, explore the Historic District, check out some local attractions, or focus on hunting down the best cuisine in town, there are endless options to pursue. That is what makes the “Ancient City" such an amazing destination.
Where to Stay in St. Augustine
Finding a great place to stay is not going to be a problem in St. Augustine, because there are plenty of to choose from.
The Casa Monica Hotel has consistently been voted one of the Top 20 Hotels in Florida by Condé Nast Traveler. Built in 1888 and restored in 1999, staying at the Casa Monica in the heart of downtown puts you within walking distance of all the major attractions. The hotel’s restaurant, 95 Cordova, is also perfect for a romantic dinner.
If you are looking for beachfront accommodations, The St. Augustine Beach House is the perfect place to stay. This sixteen-room hotel is located right on the beach and its beachfront rooms offer a stunning view of the sand and surf, as well as the East Coast Florida sunrise. There is a great fishing pier within walking distance of the hotel, plenty of nature activities in the surrounding areas, and the St. Augustine Historic District is a five minute drive away.
What to Do in St. Augustine
For many first-time visitors, simply exploring the cobblestone streets of St. Augustine’s Historic District and relaxing on the beach can be enough to fill an entire weekend (or two…or three…).
Castillo De San Marcos is a popular attraction for history buffs because it is the oldest masonry fort in the 50 states. The fort has a fascinating history that includes Spanish and British control, as well as being occupied by both the United States and the Confederate States of America. The fort was declared a National Monument in 1924 and today is run by the National Parks Service.
Open to visitors every day of the year except Christmas, the fort stands as a dramatic history lesson that comes complete with live cannon firings if you time your visit just right.
One of the best ways to see it all in downtown St. Augustine is to check out one of the trolley tours that will take you on a guided tour of the city. Old Town Trolley Tours offers a one hour tour featuring 23 stops and over 100 points of interest. Perhaps the best part is that when you buy a ticket, it’s good for 3 days and you can hop on and off at any of the stops.
Other highlights to check out while in downtown include the Oldest Wooden School House in America, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and the Lightner Museum.
Your list should also include the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. With all of the great history that St. Augustine has to offer, there is certainly going to be plenty found in the town’s old lighthouse! Here, you can climb all 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse and see St. Augustine from a unique perspective. You can also check out their Dark of the Moon, Lost Ships, and Behind the Scenes Tours.
Where to Eat in St. Augustine
St. Augustine offers visitors a wide range of dining from sophisticated, white tablecloth dining to quick, grab-and-go cafes. Regardless of your preference for atmosphere or budget, there are plenty of great options for everyone.
One of the most popular restaurants in St. Augustine is Mojo Old City BBQ. Owner Todd Lineberry has used his extensive restaurant experience to create one of the best versions of the classic casual southern BBQ joint you will find anywhere in the country. You’ll definitely want to start your meal with the Kansas City Burnt Ends!
Another great option for “foodies” is The Floridian, which focuses on creating unique dishes made from locally sourced ingredients with a focus on healthy and vegetarian foods. Don’t let that healthy part fool you though, the food here will blow your taste buds away and you won’t be leaving hungry.
Last but not least, The Columbia is part of a chain that started out in Tampa’s Ybor City back in 1905 and made its way to St. Augustine in 1983. The Spanish-Cuban menu definitely agrees with the historic mood the city will put you in.
There is an awful lot to see, do, and eat in St. Augustine, and we are just barely scratching the surface. With this awesome location being less than three hours away from the Villages of Citrus Hills, there is a good chance that after one weekend trip here you will find yourselves coming back regularly.