America’s oldest city isn’t just home to historic sites but to some amazing beaches as well.
Just 45 minutes south of Jacksonville, the nation’s oldest city was founded by Spanish sailors in 1565. Modern-day explorers come for beaches, history and to walk on streets once roamed by pirates.
The Old City
Narrow cobblestone streets best explored by foot constantly reveal scores of museums, restaurants and pubs. From antique shopping along San Marco Avenue to souvenir shops along St. George Street, the downtown historic district includes everything from classic to kitsch. Numerous themed walking tours invite visitors to see notable sites or delve into ghostly lore. St. Augustine’s not-to-be-missed, famous historic landmarks include Castillo de San Marcos, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, Fort Matanzas, the lighthouse, Flagler College and the Lightner Museum.
Power Player Golf
Jack Nicklaus ( The Golden Bear), and Arnold Palmer ( The King), came together to design the par 72 King & Bear at World Golf Village. As you would expect, this is one of the premier golf experiences in the country. The course’s many tees suit all levels, but if you need to hone your skills, take a clinic at the nearby PGA Tour Golf Academy or get customized lessons to help your game. 1 King and Bear Drive, St. Augustine, 904.940. 6088. www.olfwgb.com
Natural Beach— Anastasia Park
Beachcombers can look for the rare gold coin that may wash ashore from the pirate days, or more likely, a pretty shell on the four- mile stretch of beach. The beach was mined by the Spanish for coquina rock, a limestone made from fossilized shells, to construct the Castillo de San Marcos fortress between 1672 and 1695. Visitors can fish, camp and wander through the dunes shaded by hammock brimming with native birds.
City Beach — St. Augustine
The closest beach to Old Town is conveniently called St. Augustine. The municipal sand-scape features a festive mix of boating and fishing recreation around the St. Johns County Pier and sunbathing and picnicking spots along the rest of the two- milelong beach. Shaded pavilions, a playground, bait shops, volleyball courts and food options are all nearby. On weekends, the pier is often the host to concerts and special events.
A Pirate’s Life: Drake’s Raid
If you happen to be in town June 6-7, come out for one of St. Augustine’s most famous events. History re- enactors portray Sir Francis Drake and his raiders for an authentic re- creation of the 1586 sack of the city. The raider’s camp at Fountain of Youth Park is open to the public and displays armor used by the raiders. Costumed interpreters explain the lifestyle and and craft skills of the period. At 5:30 pm each evening, Drake and his followers descend on downtown St. Augustine, and by 7 pm, the battle rages between the English invaders and the city’s defenders. Missed it? Stop by the pirate museum for loads of fun and lore. www.drakesraid.com
St. Augustine Beach
Pirates once sacked the city
King & Bear