St Augustine is a historic old city off the coast off the Atlantic Coast of northeastern Florida and the administrative center of St Johns County. According to April 1, 2020, census data, the city has an estimated population of 14,329 people. St Augustine was founded in September 1565 by Spanish colonizer and sailor Pedro Menendez de Aviles. That makes it the oldest continually occupied European-founded city in the United States and is informally dubbed the "Nation's Oldest City." Yearly the city attracts over 6 million visitors and is in convenient proximity to Orlando, Daytona, and Jacksonville airports.
Historical Attractions To Visit At St Augustine
As a city with an ancient and colorful past, St Augustine has several historical attractions worth visiting to learn and understand its rich heritage. These include:
Fountain of Youth Archeological Park
Along 11th Magnolia Avenue is the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park where the Spanish first settled in the New World. Juan Ponce de Leon a Spanish explorer arrived at the park back in 1513. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park has ancient exhibits and documents chronicling its role in St Augustine's history. It also has a gift shop where visitors buy mugs, ornaments, commemorative magnets, figurines, books, and artifacts. Events like weddings are conducted here plus school learning activities at a fee. It is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm and admission tickets can be bought online and cost from $4.95 to $19.95. Entry is free for children under five years and ticket fees are lower for St Johns County residents.
Spanish Military Hospital Museum
Located on 3 Aviles Street the Spanish Military Hospital Museum archives the rich history of Spanish colonial medicine during the St Augustine era. The 45-minute guided learning tour, schools visitors in fields of medicine, surgery, and apothecary during the Spanish colonial period. Historical reenactments are done by museum guides to make the learning process engaging. On Friday and Saturday evenings a "Quackery Tour" is done that explores the macabre history of medicine open to adults. The Spanish Military Hospital Museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm except on Christmas and Thanksgiving. Entry is free for children under 5 years but older age individual categories are charged from $5:50 up to $11:95. Quackery Tour tickets cost 24:95 per person. Tours to the museum are booked online here.
ACCORD Civil Rights Museum
On the 79th Bridge Street is the ACCORD Civil Rights Museum opened on July 2, 2014, on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The museum exhibits artifacts, documents, and stories of the unheralded heroes of the local 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Visitors for up to two hours also watch civil rights clips and films like Crossing in St Augustine and Dare Not Walk alone. The ACCORD Civil Rights Museum also has a children's library with books donated by the Willits Foundation. There are books on the civil rights movement and African American Studies documenting the different periods of US history. Visitors have to call first before visiting to book. The museum's number is (904) 347-1382 and the museum's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
This stone wall monument was a fortification built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route. It has over 450 years of history and is a testament to clashes of cultural enclaves that build what is today the United States. Castillo de San Marcos protected the Spanish settlement in St Augustine from pirate attacks, hostile American Indian tribes, and neighboring European imperial powers. Ancient cannon firings and weapons demonstrations are done for visitors when the weather is suitable. Castillo de San Marcos is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm but closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Entry is free for children under 15 years accompanied by adults and $15 for the rest. Entry tickets are bought on site. For more information, visitors can call (904) 829-6506.
Built in 1742 by the Spanish, Fort Matanzas on the Matanzas inlet defended St Augustine from British attacks. It is accessed by a passenger ferry that operates from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm from Wednesday to Sunday. The ferry service is free, but visitors need a pass from the Visitors' Center. The Spanish name 'Matanzas' means slaughter. Many people died here including over 250 French Huguenots (protestants) in 1565 killed by Aviles including French sailor Jean Ribaut. Nearly every day there is a guide at Fort Matanzas who reenacts and narrates its history to visitors. In ideal weather, musket demonstrations are done on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12:30 to 3:30 PM. Fort Matanzas is also on a nature trail that visitors can explore.
Fort Mose is a historical site where enslaved Africans settled after risking their lives to escape Carolinas English plantations into freedom over 250 years ago. In 1738, Florida's governor allocated Fort Mose settlement then called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mosa for blacks escaping slavery. In return, the free blacks were inducted into the weak St Augustine military force and offered skilled labor to the Spanish. Today Fort Mose is a symbol of the resilience of the escapee black slaves and their contribution to Florida's multiple ethnicities. Visitors can take walks on the picturesque boardwalk or soak in the lush landscape there. The park is also ideal for weddings, reunions, birthday parties, corporate gatherings, and other events. Fort Mose's visitors center and museum are open from 9 am to 5 pm from Thursday to Monday. Visitors are charged a fee of $2 to access both. But children under 6 years are not charged. The grounds are free and open daily from 9 am to 5 pm all year. For more information, visitors can call (904) 823 2232 or email the management at Connect@fortmose.org.
Other Historical Sites to Visit at St Augustine
Other historical sites at St Augustine worth visiting are:
- Old Jail
- Oldest House Museum
- Oldest Wooden School House
- Llambias House
- Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center
- Hispanic Garden
- Lightner Museum
- The Governor's House Cultural Center and Museum
- Father O'Reilly House Museum
- Beluthahatchee Park
- First Congregation Sons of Israel Synagogue
- Pena Peck House
- Plaza de la Constitución
- Princess Place Preserve
- St. Augustine's historic downtown
- Solarium at Flagler College
- St Ambrose Church
- St Augustine Lighthouse
- St. Augustine Shipwreck Museum
- Ximenez Fatio House Museum