As a Floridian, I grew up hearing all about St. Augustine and the fort. In 5th grade I went on a field trip to visit; however appreciating the history of the town didn’t happen until now, in my 24th year of life.
For this Valentine’s day, I was lucky enough to have a partner that planned a little getaway to the historic and haunted town of St. Augustine. Upon arriving in the town, I felt like I had been transported through a time capsule to an earlier Florida that truly resembled Spain.
We arrived at our Air bnb, a 1930’s cottage around 2 pm.
Our first downtown experience included visiting the Cathedral Basilica and the Oldest Wooden School House. Live music lived at each pub and restaurant. Street performing violinists, guitarists and bucket drummers were at home in the alleyways and on every corner.
We dined out at The Columbia; this location opened in 1983 and the original opened in 1905. We sipped on their famous red sangria and munched on crab and shrimp dip. My main course of cannelloni pasta filled with lobster and scallops was dressed with a sherry reduction cream sauce. The recipe was created in Barcelona in 1836.
After dinner we attended a historic walking ghost tour. The story teller brought us to locations including Flagler college, the local churches, the town square and alleyways, all where people had been killed. Ranging from public executions of pirates to romantically fueled murders, this town was drenched in death. The story teller literally said “If you take anything away from this tour I hope it’s this, you’re walking on a layer cake of dead bodies.”
After our ghost tour, we had a small bonfire and decided to turn in for the night.
The next morning we were checked out by 11 am and were on our way to try a new restaurant in the historic Casa Blanca. The new restaurant “Brunch” was attached to the Casa Blanca and presented a beautiful oceanside view of sailboats and cloudless crisp skies.
Did I mention we walked through the haunted gates?
Supposedly a childlike ghost is ever present among them.
The gates themselves are over 200 years old.
We stopped by the Shell Shop Trading Store to give the souvenirs a once over and also peeked into the wax museum that had once been a drug store. Personally, I’m not a fan of non-moving figurine like people, but I can appreciated a big medicine cabinet. The front room of the museum is worth checking out. There were shelves upon shelves stacked with old-timey medicines and remedies. There was something morbidly intriguing about the old drug store.
After perusing the many popular prescriptions (and deciding that they all looked like death in a bottle) we stepped into a small garden area that housed The Love Tree. Legend has it that if you kiss under the tree, you are guaranteed eternal love with this person. Not pictured: the kiss. We decided to keep that picture just for us.
We also found another hidden garden attached to a local shop, decorated with colorful prisms and sun-catchers.
Our last stop was the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the states. The walls were all made of coquina, a shell found only in the Caribbean and Florida. The tall rounded ceilings housed prisoners, soldiers and Native Americans that were once held captive.
Experiencing so much history in one place was almost overwhelming; it was like you could feel the energy of war and legend throughout the 500+ year old town. My goal for my next visit is to explore the famous lighthouse. If you’re native to Florida or even from elsewhere, I highly recommend taking the trip to St. Augustine to fully submerse yourself in the history and hauntings.
As always, thanks for reading and much love to you from me.