Why St. Augustine, Fla., Is The Perfect Spot For A Sibling Getaway!By Delaina Dixon | February 20, 2019 | Travel
Visiting Florida to get away from the cold North is always a treat. Turning into a sister getaway makes it even more special! That was the weekend escape plan with my baby sibling. She’s a mom of two little ones, and it was the first time she and I had taken a trip alone in several years. But where to go in The Sunshine State? St. Augustine is the perfect Floridian city for a weekend getaway. After all, it is the oldest city in America. History and beaches? Sign us up!
Founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, St. Augustine revels in its Spanish colonial architecture which is on full display through its streets. It is also the playground of Henry Flagler, an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, who built the Florida East Coast Railway.
Armed with a handy guide from the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, we set out to see as much as we could in a 48-hour period. Here are some of our favorite spots you have to check out!
San Sebastian Winery (157 King St.) Located in one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings, this winery and performance lounge sells an astonishing collection of wines produced in Florida.
We took the complimentary wine tour where we saw the vats that store San Sebastian’s wines and tasted several, including San Sebastian Pinot Gringo, Chardonnay and port. Of course, we bought a bottle (or four!) for home.
San Sebastian Winery’s The Cellar Upstairs Wine and Jazz & Blues Bar features of top local musical acts nightly. Appetizers and wine are available for purchase.
Whetstone Chocolates (139 King St.) Right down the street from the winery is one of our favorite wine pairings! Henry and Esther Whetstone opened a small ice cream store on St. George Street and created chocolatey treats in their home kitchen back in 1967.
Whetstone today creates artisan chocolates, fudge and other decadent treats. But don’t just go here to buy – take Whetstone’s Tasting Tour. Our guide gave a very thorough lesson on how chocolate is made.
We also got a tour of the factory – hairnets included! Five employees make Whetstone’s delicious products. And yes, there is a tasting of Whetstone’s milk, dark and white chocolate, as well as its artisan treat of the day. We stocked up on goodies using the handy coupon given at the tour’s end.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum (81 Lighthouse Ave.) This is a spot that can’t be missed. This second rendition of the city’s lighthouse has 219 steps and eight landings to the top; we climbed them all! It offers beautiful views of St. Augustine, neighboring towns and the Atlantic Ocean. But that isn’t the only attraction on the property.
The Inn Keeper’s House has been transformed into a historic recreation of life in 1876 as well as a museum with many interactive maritime lessons that will keep kids and adults entertained.
Also located on the grounds are The Pickle for purchasable homemade pickles and snacks; an artifact conversation viewing room with pieces found on excursions; the Maritime Hammock Trails, a secret back trail filled with lush greenery and many more spots to discover. St. Augustine Lighthouse also offer a Ghost Tours, Lens Room Tours and plenty of children’s activities. Check their calendar for listings.
Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront (32 Avenida Menendez) What’s the significance of this Hilton location? It’s built on the location of the Monson Motor Lodge. On June 18, 1964, black and white civil rights activists jumped into the pool at the hotel to integrate the whites-only lodging, a sit-in orchestrated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists. The owner retaliated by pouring acid in the water. Days later, the Civil Rights Act was approved by Congress. We stood on the steps of the lodge where MLK was arrested a week before the sit-in and paid respect to our elders who fought for our rights.
Villa Zorayda Museum (83 King St) Ever wanted to be inside a Spanish castle? Villa Zorayda is 1/10th the scale of a section of the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, built by hardware merchant millionaire Franklin Webster Smith in 1883. The outside might not look like much, but inside, she gorgeous! Its open two-story design allows you to take it in from the minute you enter. Everywhere you look there’s history, from the 250 plus-year-old tiles on the floor to the intricately designed fireplaces and doorways, and stunning stained glass windows. And who can resist the “Sacred Cat Rug” which is over 240 years old and made from the hairs of ancient cats that roamed the Nile River (we hope no cats were hurt during this process!). A must-see on your trip.
Old Town Trolley Tours. There is so much history to see in St. Augustine, it’s almost impossible to take it all in just 48 hours! But we got 23 highlights taking this tour. Our knowledgable driver/tour guide pointed out several historical and contemporary treasures in St. Augustine, which includes Flagler College, Castillo de San Marcos fortress, historic African-American Lincolnville area and the oldest resident in St. Augustine – The Old Senator Tree, just 600 years young! Exclusive stops on the Old Town Trolley Tours include the Old Jail, St. Augustine History Museum, Potter’s Wax Museum, the Spanish Military Hospital, and the Ximenez-Fatio House. And since you hop on and off at any stop, you’ll stay busy all day long.
After all this touring, you gotta eat! We got our grub on at Salt Life Food Shack, a casual spot for fresh seafood – right across the street from our hotel, the newly built Embassy Suites By Hilton St. Augustine Oceanfront Resort. We also dined at Harry’s Seafood, Bar & Grille on historic Menedez Avenue. The restaurant serves Creole dishes with big portions and lots of spices.
So what are you waiting for? Book your sibling getaway to St. Augustine today! See more pics from our trip on our DivaGals FB page.
photo credits: Amanne Media; staugustineinns.com, Instagram