Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I want to go everywhere I haven't been, and back to everywhere I have been.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A DAY IN ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA: EIGHT THINGS TO DO






Aaaaah, Florida.......


Palm trees........
Warm ocean breezes........ 
Sandy toes........
Scarves........
Down Jackets........
Gloves.........

Yup, you read that right....... 
Never thought I'd mentioned down jackets and palm trees in the same breath,
but so it was on a recent visit to St Augustine, FL.  

On our recent drive down to the Sunshine State, 
we were salivating at the thought of escaping the cold weather in the northeast.
It was snowing when we left New Jersey........
pouring buckets when we arrived in Virginia.........
 and in the 40s when we over-nighted in Savannah.

I could barely curb my enthusiasm when we finally crossed the Florida state border.
Surely, warmth was just around the corner, or more literally, 
40 miles south on I-95. 


We were looking forward to our overnight stay in sunny and warm St. Augustine. 
I had visions of pink flamingos dancing in my head.

Alas, that was not to be. 
It seemed that "sunny" and "warm" had skipped town. 

We pulled up to our bed and breakfast, the lovely Bayfront Marin House, at around noon.
It was overcast, but at least it wasn't raining.
When I stepped outside, a biting cold wind almost blew me down.
What the WHAT ???????
Even Sadie wanted to high-tail it back into the car.
Brrrrrrrrrrr!

The Bayfront Marin House in St. Augustine, Florida is a lovely place to stay. | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


In a windy nano-second, I knew my lightweight sweatshirt and flip flops wouldn't cut it,
so I started digging for the heavy artillery in the back of the trunk.
Apparently, we jumped the gun on putting away down jackets, scarves, gloves and socks.

Hello, Florida? Is that you 🌴🌴🌴 ?

To be truthful, I really wasn't expecting a heat wave,
as temperatures for St. Augustine in January average about 66 degrees.
The day we arrived, it was 52 degrees.
I know that doesn't sound cold, 
but the strong winds made it feel just like the winter weather 
we left behind in the rear view mirror.
 It was almost.......almost too uncomfortable to walk around.

But.......it takes a lot more than that to keep me down, folks. 

I had one day, and one day only to see a bit of America's oldest city,
and gosh darn it, some gale-force winds weren't going to stop me. 
(Okay, I'm exaggerating a little........It wasn't quite that bad,
but it wasn't quite that good, either).

Remember those American history lessons in elementary school 
when you learned that Ponce de Leon "discovered" Florida?
Well, it seems that while Senor de Leon was busy looking for the Fountain of Youth,

Pedro Menendez de Aviles was hard at work settling the city of St. Augustine, back in 1565.

I bundled up, and hit the cobblestones to see what I could see of this city steeped in history.


The Bayfront Marin House in St. Augustine, Florida is a lovely place to stay. | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

 The historic district is easily walk-able,
and I managed to see quite a bit in the short time we were there.
If you ever pass thorough St. Augustine, and I highly recommend you do, 
it would be better to have a couple of days to explore. 
But, if you are pressed for time, here are some things you can easily do in one day.



1. VISIT THE OLDEST HOUSE.

Located at 14 St. Francis St., the Oldest House dates back to 1723, and is believed to be the oldest remaining structure in St. Augustine. No one has lived in the house since 1918, when the St. Augustine Historical Society took it over. In 1970, it was designated as a national landmark. Now a museum, it is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and tours run every half hour. There is also an ornamental garden and a museum store. As luck would have it, the museum was closed for private programs the day I was there, so sadly, I could only see it from the outside.


The Oldest House - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



2. SAUNTER DOWN AVILES STREET, THE OLDEST STREET IN THE NATION.

Cobblestones, art galleries, sidewalk cafes, historic homes.........this street is the definition of charming. If someone randomly plopped me in the middle of Aviles Street like the little yellow avatar on Google Earth, and said "Where Are You?" I'd swear I was in Europe. It wouldn't be a bad guess, as this age-old passageway was established by Spaniards back in the 16th Century, explaining its across-the-pond feel.


Aviles Street - the oldest street in the US - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Aviles Street - the oldest street in the US - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Aviles Street - the oldest street in the US - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Aviles Street - the oldest street in the US - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



3. WALK DOWN THE PEDESTRIAN MALL ON ST. GEORGE STREET.

If  Aviles Street exudes charm, St. George Street oozes with touristy venues. Here, you'll find souvenir shops, restaurants, bakeries, an arcade of professional artisans and craftsman, and the oldest wood schoolhouse in the U.S. My personal favorite was the "World's Most Famous Taffy Shop." They had amazing flavors, like Maple Bacon, Red Velvet, and PB & J. Let's just say that I bought enough taffy to last me the entire month of February, and I did not share one piece with Mr. Goo Shoes.


St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


St. George Street - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



4. VISIT THE CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS. 

By this time, I was starting to realize that St. Augustine has a lot of "oldest" this and thats. The fort across the bay is the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S.  Holding the status of a national monument, it guarded the city of St. Augustine back in the day of the Spanish Empire. It was built in the late 1600s, and protected the treasure ships as they traveled back to Spain. The cost is $15 to enter the park (kids under 15 are free), and allows park access for seven consecutive days. I didn't have time to go to the park, and it was soooooo windy, that I was happy just to look at it from across the street.


Castillo de San Marcos - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



5. STROLL DOWN THE WATERFRONT ON AVENIDA MENENDEZ.

With the bay on one side, and restaurants, shops and hotels on the other, this is a pleasant walk. Personally, I found this area to be a bit hokey/touristy, but that can be fun, too, right? One thing that struck me when I was there on the last day of January, was that Christmas decorations were still out in full force everywhere --  on storefronts, restaurants, hotels and private homes. What's up with that? It certainly made for a festive feeling, which I came to understand later on (See #8 Night of Lights festival, below).


Avenida Menendez - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Avenida Menendez - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Avenida Menendez - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Avenida Menendez - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Avenida Menendez - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



6. SEE THE STATUE OF PONCE DE LEON.

Right in the center of the town's historic district is a statue paying tribute to the man who discovered Florida in 1513. Whether he actually docked in St. Augustine or somewhere further south, the oldest city in America certainly likes to claim Sr. De Leon as their own. The story goes that De Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth. That story may be a myth; regardless, if you'd like to take your chances, you can head to the Fountain Of Youth Park, less than 2 miles from the historic district.


Ponce de Leon Statue  - One of 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


7. EAT AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT.

Part of the fun of traveling to me is immersing myself in the local food scene. With our visit to St. Augustine so brief, immersion wasn't on the menu for this trip. Had we stayed longer, there were all types of restaurants to tempt our palates. Many have Spanish influence, lots offer fresh seafood, and of course, there's always Southern comfort food. I would have loved to have tried one of the delicious Cuban breakfasts I'd read about.  You'll find everything from grab-and-go to grand gourmet. As a bonus, many restaurants offer views of the bay. I had made a reservation at Harry's Bar and Grill, specifically because of its outdoor dining patio and proximity to the bay. Given the weather, we opted to eat inside, but wouldn't you know, the outdoor patio was packed with diners! Yes there were heat lamps, but if our food is at risk of blowing off our plates, that's where I drawn the line!

I've got 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


I've got 8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes




8. ENJOY THE NIGHT OF THE LIGHTS SPECTACLE (from Thanksgiving weekend to January 31).

For two months, the historic district of St. Augustine is ablaze with some 3 million lights. I had no idea about this exhibition before I arrived, and out of sheer luck, we got there in the nick of time --  the very last night. During the festival, shops stay open later at night, and there are tours of the light displays available via every mode of transporation (trolley, horse and carriage, on foot; and from the sea or air). National Geographic has named it as one of the 10 best holiday lighting displays in the world. That explained all of the Christmas decorations I noticed earlier in the day. It was something to see!

Night Of Lights: One of  8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Night Of Lights: One of  8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Night Of Lights: One of  8 Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


With such a quick visit to St. Augustine, I barely scratched the surface of this beautiful city.
Had we stayed longer (and had it been warmer!),
there were many more historic buildings to see (such as Flagler College),
and interesting Spanish Colonial and Moorish architecture to ogle. 
There were streets to explore, museums to visit, galleries to wander through, 
and perhaps, some local art to be purchased.
I missed out on a trolley tour, the Old Jail, the Alligator Farm, and the Colonial Quarter.
There were many food options I would like to have tried, such as the Cuban breakfast at 
La Herencia Cafe, popsicles at The Hyppo, and a tour of the St. Augustine Distillery.
It would have been nice to cross the Bridge of Lions over the Matanzas River 
to see St. Augustine Beach. 

And, yeah, I probably would have ventured over to the Fountain Of Youth Park 
for a bottle of that "magic" water, because, hey, it couldn't hurt. 




Now that I've drawn a line through St. Augustine on my bucket list,
I need to add it to another agenda: 
Places I Want To Go Back To