Girls Getaway Road Trip Visit to St. Augustine, Florida

Travel to St Augustine, Florida's Historic Coast

St. Augustine is a magical place to visit. The history, the architecture, the food, the weather. It's all gorgeous!

Travel to St Augustine, Florida's Historic Coast

The Epic Roadtrip with Friends

St. Augustine was the final destination during the epic, whirl-wind road trip I went on with MargaritaPaula, and Sandy. I swear there was this weird frisson of excitement that rippled through our car the moment we drove into town!

Within minutes we drove by the Old Jail House, the Fountain of Youth, and Ripley's Believe It or Not! while on our way to the tourist center as our first stop into the city.

We could tell right away that this town is filled with a ton of history, and fun, and we had less than 48 hours to enjoy as much of it as possible!

No pressure....

And honestly, this post is only showing a smidgen of what we managed to get up to!

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Margarita (left), Paula (right), and Sandy (front) hanging out in Flagler College, St. Augustine

 

The Hotel - TRYP by Wyndham

A great trip begins with a great hotel. TRYP by Wyndham is a fabulous place to rest between your explorations of St. Augustine.

Google Map St Augustine TRYP by Wyndham Hotel

One side of the hotel overlooks the San Sebastian River, and is only minutes away from downtown by car.

St Augustine TRYP Wyndham Hotel

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The Queen rooms are spacious. A ton of room to spread out and chillax. You and your roommate can easily navigate the space without ever bumping into each other, which is particularly awesome if you've just spent hours in a tiny plane, boat or car with them.

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Rooms come with a small kitchen-like area with a microwave, refrigerator, coffee machine, and sink.

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Bathrooms are also comfortable with the right amount of space for sink/vanity, toilet and stand-in shower.

St Augustine TRYP Wyndham Hotel Suite Bathroom

I hadn't been familiar with the Blue Harmony line of products, but as someone who is generally choosy about what they use in their hair, I was happy with using these samples for the day.

And YAY for that hair-tie. It came in handy more than once during our stay.

St Augustine TRYP Wyndham Hotel Suite Bathroom Soap Shampoo

The Tour - Red Train Tours

St. Augustine is seriously jam-packed with destinations to explore. Honestly, you could look at the map and wonder what to see first. The Pirate & Treasure Museum? Flagler College? The Fountain of Youth?

Taking the Red Train Tour (run by Ripley's) is a must. This train tour should be the first thing you do to get a general sense of what there is to see and do around town.

The cool thing is that your tour ticket works for the day, so you can hop on and off at different stops/tourist destinations that are listed on their map. That way, you can go explore the areas that intrigue you the most right away.

St Augustine Red Train Tours

Here is Paula taking in the sites around town...

St Augustine Red Train Tours Paula Girlfriend Getaway Florida

And, Sandy helpfully showing the map of Red Train Tours destinations/stops.

St Augustine Red Train Tours Sandy Girlfriend Getaway Florida

The González–Alvarez House (built 1625,) is the oldest house in Florida, if not in the United States, and is driven by during the Red Train Tour.

St Augustine Oldest House Red Train Tour

Hop off at this stop to visit the Oldest House Museum, run by the St. Augustine Historical Society.

St Augustine Gonzalez–Alvarez House Oldest House Florida Red Train Tour

The Other Tour - the Segway Edition

While I absolutely loved the Red Train tour, we all decided that we wanted to try out a Segway tour of St. Augustine as well!

St Augustine Bike Rentals Segway Tour

St. Augustine Bike Rentals is a fantastic place to get a more intimate tour of the local area, on a multitude of single-ride transportation, including bikes and Segways.

I had never been on a Segway before. I've been intrigued by them ever since they became a thing, but never had the chance to stand on one until our road trip.

OMG, THEY'RE SO MUCH FUN!!!!

St Augustine Bike Rentals Segway Tour - parked Segways before tour

My first step onto a Segway was a shaky one. I wasn't familiar with where pressure needs to be applied to keep a Segway either moving or standing still.

But after a bit of practice in the parking lot, it was a wild tour ride for the evening!

And this is one feature that St. Augustine Bike Rentals should be known for. Before your tour, they actually teach you, and let you practice how to get on and off a Segway, and how to move around, until you're comfortable with it.

Historic Coast Tour Segway St Augustine Florida

Out of all the tours we did on our 48 hour trip, the Segway tour from St. Augustine Bike Rentals got us closest to the Matanzas River, for a spectacular view.

St Augustine Segway Tour along the Matanzas river

St Augustine Bike Rentals Segway Tour near lion statues

The History

Meet Juan Ponce de Leon, the Discoverer of Florida

I'm not sure what Juan Ponce de Leon's statue is "looking" at, but there could always be a significance to the direction a statue is pointing towards.

Its general direction is north, but not sure of what lies that way that would hold the 1923 statue's steadfast interest.

Do you ever stand by a statue and imagine it being the key to some BIG secret?  Some historical controversy that would sweep you away on an adventure worthy of great movie treasure hunters like Indiana Jones, Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code), or Ben Gates (National Treasure)?

Yeah, me neither. *cough*

Statue of Juan Ponce De Leon Discoverer of Florida St Augustine Historic Coast

While staring up into the bright blue, sunny sky, at first I thought the statue might have been pointing towards the Matanzas River, where a massacre of Protestants occurred in 1565.

"Matanzas" means killings or slaughter in Spanish, so you can imagine how despairing this execution was.

Ponce de Leon wasn't involved in that tragedy though, as it had happened decades later.

So I'm wondering now if the statue is pointing towards "his" Fountain of Youth.

There are conflicting stories of whether or not Ponce de Leon was searching for the fountain during his voyages, or whether it was a side-line joke added by journalists of the time, as there aren't any official documents suggesting this search was on Ponce de Leon's list of things to do back then.

By 1923 though, when the statue was presented, stories of Ponce de Leon's quest for the Fountain of Youth was more prevalent than what may be the truth.

Regardless, the Fountain of Youth is a big attraction in St. Augustine today, and is part of an archeological park that I truly wished we had time to explore.

Google Map St Augustine Ponce de Leon Statue Fountain of Youth

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine

Regardless of your religion, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine is truly impressive in its architectural design, and the role it plays for the city.

Originally established in 1565 (this current building first opened its doors in 1797), is the oldest church in Florida. It is also home to the oldest parish to have continuously run in the United States.

Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine Florida

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Exterior

Absolutely gorgeous, and brilliantly coloured stained glass windows.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Preaching Stain Glass

Awe-worthy interior murals, and statues, such as this one of Our Lady of La Leche.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Exterior

 

The Alcazar Hotel, Lightner Museum, and Downton Abbey

The Alcazar Hotel was one of three hotels in St. Augustine that were built with the intent of rich luxury. Its doors were open from 1889 until 1930 (closing due to economic depression.)

Along with being a prestigious hotel, the Alcazar was home to the world's largest indoor pool, the Casino. Today the pool floor has been filled in and is now the gorgeous setting for The Cafe Alcazar.

Historic Alcazar Hotel St Augustine Florida

While the Alcazar is now where you'll find the Lightner Museum, there are other tenants in this massive building, including city offices, and a wedding chappel.

Historic Alcazar Hotel Shops in Courtyard

Lightner Museum Corridor St Augustine Florida Historic Coast

The Lightner Museum, embedded within the historic Alcazar Hotel, is three stories of local history. Right now, you can appreciate that history with a touch of Downton Abbey, with their Dressing Downton exhibit.

Historic Alcazar Hotel Courtyard Entrance Lightner Museum

36 costumes and accessories from the popular British television drama Downton Abbey are paired with Otter Lightner's collection of fine art and turn of the century furnishings.

Dressing Downton Lightner Museum St Augustine

Dressing Downton Lightner Museum St Augustine Florida

Dressing Downton Florida Lightner Museum St Augustine

If you're visiting the Lightner Museum for the Dressing Downton collection, you have to end your adventure with a High Tea at Cafe Alcazar!

Dressing Downton High Tea Basement Lightner Museum St Augustine

Timing just wasn't on our side for High Tea, but we did stay for lunch. This was a delicious Roast Beef Signature Sandwich with Yellow Rice, at Cafe Alcazar.

Roast Beef Signature Sandwich Cafe Alcazar Lightner Museum

A table setting ready for High Tea at Cafe Alcazar.

High Tea Cafe Alcazar Lightner Museum St Augustine

The Ponce De Leon Hotel / Flagler College

This college makes me want to go back to school, if only so I could live in residence here. WOW. There isn't a nook or cranny in this massive building that isn't decorated/carved in some fashion.

Flagler College Ponce De Leon Hotel St Augustine Architecture

Opening its doors in 1888, this location was better known as the luxurious Ponce De Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler (a railroad pioneer, and co-founding partner of J.D. Rockefeller for the Standard Oil Company.)

It was one of the first buildings in the world to be wired for electricity.

Ponce de Leon Rotunda - St Augustine Flagler College

The Ponce de Leon Rotunda near the front building entrance. - St Augustine Flagler College

An instant success, The Ponce was visited by many well-known personalities, including Mark Twain, Babe Ruth and President Roosevelt.

 

St. Augustine Flagler College Water Fountain Frog

In WWII, The Ponce was taken over by the federal government and used as a coast guard training facility.

Today, it's a National Historic Landmark, and a private college for a variety of studies.

Flagler College St Augustine Architecture

Imagine having your lunch break between classes in a dining hall that is surrounded by Tiffany glass-paned windows...

Flagler College Ponce De Leon Hotel St Augustine Architecture Tiffany Glass Windows

The Pirate & Treasure Museum

I've only recently learned that Florida has such a colourful history with Arrrggh, Matey, pirates!  Some Floridian cities have season-long celebrations.

My first introduction to the life of a pirate along the Florida coast was St. Augustine's Pirate & Treasure Museum.

It's an eclectic collection of pirate history, embedded within "life of a pirate" installations. You'll see pirates taking a nap, or being fitted for an eye patch.

There is even a talk head.

Pirate and Treasure Museum Portraits

Children will be absolutely enthralled with the entertainment. Who wouldn't want to fire a real canon?

Adults will be amazed at the history displayed beautifully before them.

Pirate and Treasure Museum Model Ship

Possibly one of the most important tools, and skill, a pirate could have: Navigation....

Pirate and Treasure Museum Navigation Tools

An actual pirate flag from the Jolly Roger!

Jolly Roger Flag Found Pirate and Treasure Museum

It seems that to be a pirate, you have to be really good a bookkeeping.

Pirate and Treasure Museum Log Books

On September 6th, 1622, two Spanish ships, the Neustra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita, were lost along the Florida Keys due to a hurricane.

It would be more than 350 years later for the Atocha to be found, and below are treasures found from that shipwreck.

Pirate and Treasure Museum Atocha treasure

The museum also carries an awesome collection of memorabilia from Hollywood's greatest pirate films.

Check out One-Eyed Willy's map from The Goonies!

The Goonies Map at the Pirate and Treasure Museum

Also a sword from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies! Is it Jack Sparrow's? You'll have to visit the museum to find out!

Pirates of the Caribbean Sword at The Pirate and Treasure Museum St Augustine

What would a Pirate & Treasure Museum be without out a treasure to take home? The gift shop is amassed with all kinds of pirate booty to enjoy.

Pirate and Treasure Museum Gift Shop

There is even authentic pirate's treasure to collect!  It was difficult to walk away from this, without a bit of history in hand.

Pirate and Treasure Museum buy the treasure

The Ghosts - Apparently There's a Lot of Them

As the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, it's no wonder that there are a ton of ghost stories embedded within.

It is such a big part of the local culture, that there are many ghost tours to choose from.

On our last night in St. Augustine, we joined Ripley's tour, which includes a train trip around town to some of the city's most haunted locations.

Ripleys Ghost Train Adventure St Augustine Florida

Travelling in the pitch dark, on a fast moving train, does not make for good photos, unfortunately.

Creepy ghost stories are creepy though! Especially when paired with creepy portraits of children, eek.

Ripleys Ghost Train Adventure St Augustine Florida Creepy

I am a fanatic for ghost hunting "reality" TV. I can't get enough of watching scientists, engineers, and all-around tech enthusiasts trying to capture a spectral phenomenon on IR, or some other measuring spectrum.

So being given a EMF reader to hold onto during the whole ghost tour for an attempt to capture a ghost was exciting all on its own. I was totally geeking out.

EMF readers gauge the immediate local electromagnetic field surrounding it (and by extension, surrounding you.) A massive spike in the field is supposed to signify that a ghost is lurking around you, as they are determined to be floating masses of energy.

If I held this meter beside any electrical current (ie. wires,) the meter will light up and dance in the red zone.

In theory, this meter shouldn't be active at all if it's in the middle of a room that is void of anything electric. So the question is, what is lighting the meter up when it's away from any visible electrical units?

It doesn't pick up smartphones or anything battery powered, we tried.

This meter did light up sometimes in instances that can't be explained by me. So does that mean a ghost or two had crossed my path during the tour?

Meep...

Ripleys Ghost Train Adventure St Augustine Florida Ghost Detector

The tour was fun & freaky.

I would definitely suggest taking a ghost tour, if only to get a glimpse of St. Augustine's darker history, regardless if you're a hardcore believer in the supernatural or not.

BUT, I can't stress this enough, it's not for kids.

I guess tours leave it up to parents to determine whether the tour stories are something their children can handle. Ripley's tour?  No. They can't.  There were a number of children crying throughout the tour, because the ghost stories were scary for them.

Heck, the stories were gruesome/scary for adults.

The Music Scene - Colonial Oak Music Park

St. Augustine loves live music. Many of their restaurants and pubs boast live music entertainment every night throughout downtown.

The Colonial Oak Music Park is home to a number of celebration events (the Songwriter Fest occurred earlier in October.)

After an emphatically delicious dinner at Catch 27, we stopped by the open park, under a massive oak tree, to enjoy the local fest.

Colonial Oak Music Park Festival Great Music St Augustine Florida

Listen to this awesome cover of Radiohead's Creep. (Please note that there is strong language used in the song.)

You may recognize Margarita, Sandy, and Paula here, but there is also our fabulous new friend Barbara, a local of St. Augustine! We had an absolutely fantastic time seeing St. Augustine through her eyes.

Colonial Oak Music Park with Barbara

Music Fest St Augustine Florida Girlfriends Getaway

Take a Trip Down to St. Augustine, Florida #FloridasHistoricCoast

Honestly, if you have a love for history. A love for pirates. A love for food. And/or a love for great entertainment embedded within a city that embraces its eclectic culture and architecture.

You must make a visit to St. Augustine the next time you hit up Florida.

We spent two days there, which just isn't enough time to appreciate the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.

At the minimum, book four days of your holiday to visit this scenic city. Though if you can stretch it, book your hotel for a week.

 

 

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Visit Florida in a partnership with Geek with Style to provide you the most up to date facts, helping you make better-informed decisions. All opinions in this article are my own.

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Aeryn Lynne

The Geek at Geek Life
Living in Superman's Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, fights for fashion-equality, squees over comic art, and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction.
Aeryn Lynne

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  1. Heather Lynne November 20, 2017
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