For roadtrippers headed to northeast Florida this spring, here’s news about a possible stop: Forbes magazine has named St. Augustine as one of the ten prettiest towns in America. Earlier this year, TripAdvisor.com chose St. Augustine as one of the 15 vacation "hot spots" for 2012.
Here's how Forbes described St. Augustine: Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States occupied by Europeans (take that, Jamestown!), and it remained in Spanish hands until it was traded to the British for Havana. But the town has retained much of its Spanish past in some of its homes and larger architecture. "Castillo de San Marcos, the formidable 17th-century structure built by the Spanish to defend La Florida, is the country's oldest fort, and boasts impressive turrets, a moat, and even a double-drawbridge," says Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director for Fodor's Travel. "The town's picturesque historic district is full of old-world atmosphere, historic homes, and easily explored on foot."
If this has piqued your interest, here are a couple notes about what’s happening in St. Augustine:
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park has a new 600 ft. long observation platform over the marsh. The park is a 15-acre waterfront historical site where in 1565 the Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles established the first and what would become the oldest continuous European settlement in the U.S. It’s also where you can taste the water from the legendary fountain that Ponce de Leon sought.
In 2014, St. Augustine will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the role the city played in its passage. Today, visitors can follow a self-guided Freedom Trail tour of 31 sites and hear audio descriptions of what happened at those sites.
To see the Forbes article, click here.
To read an article from the Miami Herald's archives about St. Augustine's Pirate and Treasure Museum, click here.
Photo: Castillo de San Marcos Fort in St. Augustine. Credit: VisitFlorida