Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Visiting St Augustine, Florida

My Visit to St Augustine, Florida

Back in October 2018 during a 10 night vacation to Orlando, I took a day trip to the oldest inhabited city in the USA - St Augustine, Florida. The drive was fairly straightforward and aided by a GPS took approximately 2 and a half hours from Kissimmee where I was staying, on mainly freeways. The route I took was toll free and you can set your GPS to avoid toll roads if you wish to do so. Upon arrival in St Augustine I parked in the Historic District Parking Garage at a cost of $15 for the entire day. Cheaper parking options are available but be aware many of them are on street parking and are time limited. The parking garage felt more secure, kept the car out of the heat of the Florida sun and is centrally located right next to the visitor centre. I would highly recommend starting your visit by popping in to the visitor centre which is packed with endless useful information to help plan your day. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, providing me with a free city map and they were more than willing to share their invaluable local knowledge with you. Many of the pamphlets also contain money saving coupons for many of the city's most popular attractions.

Just a few minutes walk across the street from the visitor centre is a fast food restaurant called Burger Bucket which also plays host to one of the main ticket offices for the Red Train Tour operated by Ripley's.

Ripley's Red Train Tour

I picked up the Red Train Tour at Burger Bucket after purchasing my adult day ticket from the ticket office for $22. This is a hop-on, hop-off service which provides a comprehensive tour of the city that I would highly recommend. You can stay on the train for a full loop tour, taking in all the sights the city has to offer and ending up right back where you started. You will travel down narrow streets only the Red Train Tour is allowed to venture down and you will be guided by a highly informative and entertaining guide who also happens to be your driver. This is a great way to relax and explore the city during the intense heat often experienced in this part of the world. You can also use the train as a shuttle service between different attractions such as Ripley's Believe it or Not, Castillo De San Marcos, Distillery tours, George Street and The Fountain of Youth. It's the Fountain of Youth historic site that I chose to explore.

Fountain of Youth

It is at this very site you can drink water from the legendary Fountain of Youth and live forever! Well maybe not quite but it is the location of the famous Fountain of Youth and you can still drink the water which is...…. disgusting but is also a must do, you know, just in case! There are also plenty of opportunities and fun ways to explore the history of the site including demonstrations such as weapon making, archery and cannon firing. You can also get up close to the wildlife and feed the resident peacocks and peahens who wander freely around the entire site. Peanut dispensers are located at various points and you will need a quarter to operate them. Of course there is a gift shop at the exit where you can purchase a whole host of souvenirs including, of course, your very own bottle of the legendary water to take home with you. Entry to the Fountain of Youth site was $15 per adult and I enjoyed my time here so felt it value for money, especially so if I now live forever!


George Street

George Street was my next destination after leaving the Fountain of Youth and is located right next to Burger Bucket and the Red Train Tour ticket office. This street is approximately 1 mile long and is completely pedestrianised which means you can wander safely at your leisure. It is lined with various shops, cafes, bars and attractions such as the oldest wooden school house in The United States of America. It's a pleasurable stroll from one end to the other but a word of caution, I did this is 90 degree heat and it definitely made the experience a little less pleasurable. My advice therefore would be to make this an evening activity if possible unless you wish to visit one of the historic daytime attractions that are located along this street.

What else?

My visit to St Augustine was relatively short and there was little time left to explore other things on this occasion. I did take time before leaving to have a short walk along the Matanzas River looking over to Anastasia Island and ending up at Castillo De San Marcos but did not have chance to go inside this historic fort. There is so much more still to see and do in St Augustine and it is a certainty that I will return in the future. If you are thinking of paying a visit I would definitely encourage you to do so.

Want a sneak peek?

If you want a sneak peek at my day in St Augustine you can check out my YouTube video from the day by clicking on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsFejLBhC00

Thank you for reading and I'll be back soon!

Until then remember, life's not about where you're going, it's about how you get there!

Jason x