Friday, November 05, 2004

Most haunted city

"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." -- (Miriam Beard 1901- )

St. Augustine, Florida is most certainly a city worth seeing. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in what is now the United States. Almost 5 decades before the English colonized Jamestown, the Spanish established this Nations' first enduring settlement.

With more than four centuries of colorful local history to draw from, St. Augustine has more than 60 unique, themed attractions that have the uncanny ability to bring history and romance to life.

The combination of historic sites mixed with roaming performers telling stories of the past make the attractions of St. Augustine one of the most popular vacation sites in America.
Lodging

Featuring more than 20 bed and breakfast's scattered throughout the Old City, visitors are sure to find a unique lodging experience such as the Nation's oldest, continuously run Bed and Breakfast, The St. Francis Inn, in operation since 1791 and is rich in old world charm and modern comforts.

"We stayed here because we wanted our marriage and honeymoon to follow the same traditional values our parents did. After all they have been married for 42 years, so what better way than have our honeymoon in the oldest city in America. It is like a time warp here," said Luis and Andrea Guzman of Orlando Florida.

"Some of the Inn's amenities include a swimming pool, hot coffee and tea served all day as well as a breakfast and complimentary bicycles for touring the historic downtown Saint Augustine.
We also offer a beach house for guests to use," said Joe Finnegan, the owner.

Guests of the Inn also receive free admission to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and 50% off admission to the "Oldest House," one of St. Augustine's finest treasures of Florida's history. With 219 steps leading up the 165 foot-tower, the candy-striped St. Augustine Lighthouse provides visitors a panoramic view of St. Augustine and the beaches.

The Lighthouse Museum displays maritime artifacts and provides visitors with a look at what life was like for lighthouse keepers and their families in the early 1800's. "We enjoyed the lighthouse so much when we were here last year that we are going to see it again," said Chuck and Linda Hughes of Ocala, Florida.

Another superb Bed and Breakfast is the Casa de Solana. It is set among tropical gardens, a waterfall, and a walled courtyard for privacy -- an oasis of Heaven on Earth. The Casa de Solana is the sister Inn to the St. Francis; thus, they provide the same amenities. Guests can enjoy sitting on the second floor balconies and garden patios, while listening to the "clip-clop" of horse drawn carriages passing on the narrow brick-paved streets just as they have done for centuries. "This is the most wonderful place to work, It is like a dream come true," said Betsy Speer, Innkeeper.

Another favorite Inn of visitors to the city is the Casa de la Paz, which is set facing the beautiful bay front along the Matanzas Bay.

Once there you are able to view the sailing ships in the bay or relax in a tropical garden courtyard with the sounds of waterfalls while soaking in the relaxing ocean breeze. You can also watch the romantic horse and carriages stroll along the bay front.

Visitors can wake up in a beautiful "House of Peace" to a stunning view of the sunrise over the sparkling Matanzas Bay. While in this elegant, 1915 Mediterranean Bed and Breakfast, everyone will enjoy a unique 1900's style and decor. "Some rooms have Jacuzzi and decorative fireplaces. Guests can also choose a room with a panoramic view of the Bay, the historic Bridge of Lions and the lighthouse," said Sharon Hite, Innkeeper. "Once here you will receive luxurious accommodations and gracious, personal attention, everyone here is a God send" said Sherri Crews, owner.

All of the city's Bed and Breakfast's are within easy walking distance of the many local attractions. Travelers can step back in time by strolling amidst the authentic coquina walls and hand-hewn cedar beams of shops, restaurants, art galleries, museums, and famous attractions of the Nation's oldest city and just an easy 5-minute drive visitors will find the beautiful St. Augustine beaches.

Associated Links

Information about St. AugustineSt. Francis InnCasa de SolanaCasa de la PazThe LighthouseCastillo de San MarcosFlagler CollegeWhetstone Chocolate Factory

Attractions

A favorite of tourists is the old Spanish fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, built in 1672. The fort stood firm against pirate raids and English attacks and helped Spain hold Florida for many years. During the American Revolution, the fort served as a British stronghold, and later became a battery in America's coastal defense system. For a small fee, visitors can tour the fort's interior and see how the soldiers lived and fought.

The Ponce de Leon Hotel was a lavish, 18th-century Spanish Renaissance structure was completed in 1888 by millionaire developer Henry Flagler, and is now the home of Flagler College. The centerpiece of the school's 19-acre campus is the grand Ponce de León Hall, a luxurious structure that was built in 1968 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
"With an average class size of 21, Flagler College provides an exceptional opportunity for a private education at extremely affordable costs," said Brian Thompson, Director of Public Relations.

The college offers 20 majors, 26 minors, and 2 pre-professional programs in selected studies emphasizing liberal arts, educations, and business.

A great way to end one of Florida's finest vacations is to stop at the Whetstone Chocolate Factory, but chocoholics beware, this magnificent factory tour can be hazardous to your waistline.

As you enter the Whetstone Chocolate Factory, the first thing you will notice is the warm, wonderful, thick aroma of chocolate. You will enjoy browsing the gift shop and sampling the chocolates.

"This family business began with Henry and Esther Whetstone in 1967," said Jan Hennessey, Tour Coordinator.

During the tour, you can watch the production of Whetstone's flavored chocolate oranges and view the fifteen-minute video about the history and founding of Whetstone Chocolates. "It is a great place to work, there is harmony in candy land," said Ray Payne, the Store Manager.

Restaurants

There are wide varieties of restaurants that are available in St. Augustine from Cuban style at The Columbia House Restaurant, to Mediterranean at the La Pentola Restaurant all the way to A1A Ale Works Brewery where you can get homemade root beer.

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