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Oldest City in the USA: explore the amazing history

Most people know that Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the USA, but there are many interesting facts you may not know. According to history.com, the Spanish tried numerous times to colonize Florida between 1513 and 1559. All of which failed. After that King Phillip II gave up until the Huguenots built a fort in Jacksonville. He then sent an expedition which landed in Saint Augustine. The Spanish subsequently massacred many of the French.

Although attacked many times, the oldest city in the USA continued to survive. For example, the Native Americans attacked the fort with flaming arrows. The British under Sir Francis Drake also attacked the settlement. The original settlers constructed the site with wood so it burned down numerous times and had to be rebuilt. The Spanish eventually surrendered to the the U.S. navy during the civil war.

Castillo de San Marcos in the Oldest City in the USA

Castillo de San Marcos in the oldest city in the USA
Castillo de San Marcos

Due to being constructed of coquina, a stone made from shells, this fort has withstood the test of time. The original forts were composed of wood which often caught fire. While visiting the fort you will learn about the many battles with the British, Spanish, and local Indians.

Explore this fortress with the help of brochures and maps or through the park app. Of course park rangers and volunteers in period dress make themselves available to answer questions and pose for photos. In addition you can witness cannon firing. The park charges an entrance fee of $15 per person for those 16 and up and is open daily between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

Looking for a place to eat nearby? Several restaurants are nearby on St. George Street. If you enjoy Spanish food head for Taberna del Caballo which is an 18th century inspired tavern serving food Thursday through Sunday for lunch or dinner. Another option is Saint Augustine Seafood Company which boasts a locally inspired menu and open every day except Tuesday. On the other hand, if you prefer pub food go to the Bull & Crown which serves burgers, wings, and fish & chips.

Potter’s Wax Museum

Located at 31 Orange Street, Potter’s Wax Museum occupies the oldest pharmacy in the U.S. Exhibits include Roman Centurions, celebrities, and even a horror section. At times you may even get to tour the workstation with a wax artist. During the evenings you can have an extra scary experience by taking a Ghosts and Gravestones Tour.

The museum opens at 9am daily and closes at 5pm.

Lightner Museum

Front of the Lightner Museum in the oldest city in the USA
Lightner Museum

Originally the Hotel Alcazar, this museum houses an interesting collection of antiquities. The building itself dates back to the luxurious days of railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Located at 75 King Street, the building itself emanates an iconic presence. Allow 1-2 hours to guide yourself through 4 1/2 floors covering 20,000 objects. The collection originally owned by Otto Lightner contains an eclectic mixture of fine art, and other pieces he bought during the depression from Gilded Age mansions. When you get hungry you can dine at the on site restaurant located in what used to be the hotel’s indoor pool. However, reservations are recommended.

If you are looking for something cheaper and quick try the Kookaburra. It is an Australian coffee house which serves breakfast pies such as The Corker- sausage, egg, and pepper jack or lunch pies such as Traditional Meat Pie- minced meat and onions in a rich

Can’t Visit the Oldest City in the USA Without Seeing the Fountain of Youth

Arch at Fountain of Youth Park in the oldest city in the USA
Fountain of Youth Park

Since the times of ancient Greece, stories of a mythical fountain of youth have inspired explorers over the ages to set forth on expeditions in search of it. Supposedly the spring restores youth to whoever bathes in it or drinks from the spring.

In 1513 Ponce de Leon landed Saint Augustine while searching for the fountain of youth, making it the oldest city in the USA with continuous inhabitants.

The park is open from 9-6 daily with the last ticket sold at 5pm. Pets are welcome, and parking is free. The park charges $18 per adult, $10 per child, but kids under 5 are free. When you finish seeing the sights, grab a bite to eat at Smoked Southern BBQ on site.

Exhibits include the Spring House where you can actually take a drink from this historic spring which contains over 30 minerals. Another must see is the Navigator’s Planetarium where you can see the sky as it was during the time of these early explorers and learn how they found their way. In addition, visit a reconstruction of a Timucuan Indian village as well as their burial grounds. Learn about the area history, see the Blacksmith Exhibit, the Nombre de Dios Mission, and the 1565 Menendez Settlement.

Here are some additional things to try:

Where Should I Stay in the Oldest City in the USA?

I have compiled this list of different types of lodging to help you plan your visit.

Airbnb

This are all hosted by Superhosts and have good reviews from guests:

Hotels in the Oldest City in the USA

These all won Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Award for 2020 and by clicking on the links you will be taken to the best deals for booking through Trivago:

If you are like me you will enjoy planning the trip almost as much as taking it. Please let me know if you find additional hotels, restaurants, or things to do which I should add to my post. Safe travels!

2 thoughts on “Oldest City in the USA: explore the amazing history

  1. I certainly did not now that Saint Augustine was the oldest city in the USA. The Castillo is certainly a testament to the need this city had to defend itself from attack. Maybe a visit to the Fountain of Youth would make me feel like I am back in time!

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