What is the Oldest City in the USA? Well, it’s St. Augustine Florida! Have you ever been there? Known for Spanish colonial architecture and beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches St. Augustine offers something for everyone. It’s a beautiful coastal city that showcases the old charm and brings in the modern vibe effortlessly. It has been one of my favorite cities for a long time.
History of the Oldest City in the USA
Holding the title of Oldest City in the USA St. Augustine has a deep history. Founded in 1565. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States. Forty-two years before the English colonized Jamestown and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish established at St. Augustine this nation’s first enduring settlement.
Getting Around St. Augustine
St. Augustine is an old city and old cities have narrow streets. Narrow streets can cause a lot of traffic congestion, and that holds true for St. Augustine.
We drove in the city as little as possible. It was very congested and the traffic was terrible. Most of the parking was on the street, and spaces were hard to get in and out of. Once we left the main part of St. Augustine and crossed the Bridge of Lions, it was much less congested and driving was much better.
A trolley is the best way to travel the older part of St. Augustine. We purchased tickets on Old Town Trolley and it was a great choice. The trolley is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm and has 22 stops through St. Augustine. The best part about the trolley is it is hop-on and hop-off. You can get off at any of the stops, stroll around, go through the attractions and get back on when another trolley comes by.
Attractions in St. Augustine
If I were to list and talk about EVERYTHING to do in St. Augustine this post would never end! St. Augustine is packed full of great attractions that showcase the history of the city and also showcase the newer more modern attractions. I’ve highlighted a few of these attractions and also you can see a more complete list here!
Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. The fort is the largest focal point of St. Augustine. You can’t miss this one! Built to defend Spain’s claim in the New World the fort is the oldest structure in St. Augustine. This National Monument is over 315 years old. There are many things to do at the fort and the views of the water are exceptional.
Fountain of Youth
Don’t we all long for a fountain of youth? I know I do! Well in St. Augustine you can visit the original Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon came ashore in 1513. de Leon named the area La Florida because he had seen the area during the “festival of flowers’ at Easter.
Today the Fountain of Youth works to preserve and share the rich history of the area. You can even take a sip of the cool, clear water from the Fountain of Youth. It’s a tourist attraction for sure, but there is a lot of history to learn when you visit.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maratime Museum
Another attraction in the oldest city in the USA is The St. Augustine LIghthouse and Maritime Museum. The Lighthouse was built between 1871 and 1874. Due to a lack of manpower and money the lighthouse took three years to build. It first lit on October 15, 1874.
My best friend and her daughter were keen to go to the top, but I was not able to climb the 219 steps to the top and come back down! I waited on the ground while they climbed, but I still enjoyed myself checking out the history and seeing the sights.
The St. Augustine Distillery is one of the stops on The Old Town Trolley route. Erin wanted to stop, and have a cocktail, so we did. Tasting tours are free and are available 7 days a week. It’s a self-guided tour with 4 stations to taste a Distillery cocktail. Be warned, THEY ARE STRONG, small but mighty!
These are just a few of the attractions in St. Augustine. We only had a day here and we could have spent a week and still not seen everything! My favorite place is always going to be the beaches! The beach always calms me, and I feel completely at peace when I’m at the beach.
Places to Stay
There are hotels and motels throughout St. Augustine. We stayed at the Super 8 because it’s a Wyndham property and I’m a Wyndham rewards member. I’m the kind of traveler that would rather spend less on a clean no-frills motel and have more funds for sightseeing and attractions. There are few hotels that I would pay the extra to stay in, but for this trip, Super 8 was just what we needed! I’ve said this before, rewards programs are the best! The prices are great and you earn points for future travel, it’s a win-win!
When you get hungry and are ready for some good food, the oldest city in the USA will not let you down. My best friend and I have a rule when we travel together, no chain restaurants! We make a few exceptions, mostly when we are driving to a destination, but overall we eat local and avoid anything we can get at home!
If you’re looking for burgers and quick meals there are tons of local eateries located in the main shopping area of St. Augustine. Anything you want you can find there! We had eaten breakfast and we weren’t hungry for lunch so we passed on stopping there, but the air smelled heavenly as we rode the trolly past.
Osteen’s is a St. Augustine’s staple. Opened in 1965 by Mr. and Mrs. Osteen the restaurant flourishes with a commitment to always serve fresh seafood and daily specials accompanied by homestyle sides & fresh vegetables. The menu has mostly remained the same and some employees have been with the restaurant for more than 20 years. Year after year previous visitors returns to Osteen’s for great service and fabulous food. One thing to remember Osteen’s is cash only, so leave your Visa and Mastercard in your wallet. only cold hard cash will do!
While we didn’t eat at Osteen’s this visit but it came so highly recommended from a trusted source, that I had to include it in this post.
Right on the ocean at Vilano Beach is The Reef. We found this gem at the end of our day and stopped here for dinner and we were not disappointed! There was the option of sitting outside, but because the sun was setting, and temps were getting cooler we opted for inside dining, but we had a great view, even on the inside.
The menu looked delectable and making a choice was hard. For an appetizer, I chose the crab cake, and it was the best crab cake I’ve had to date. The crab cake was delicate and held together nicely and most importantly it was delicious! It was so good that my best friend ordered one in addition to her main course after tasting mine! For my dinner I chose the flounder over risotto with vegetables, it was the special of the night and it was fantastic. For dessert, the three of us split a cheesecake, and like everything else, it was great.
I was driving so I stuck with soda, but my best friend and her daughter each had a cocktail. Ruth (BFF) chose Voyager Punch. It contained St. Augustine Rum, Cointreau, Banana Liqueur, Blackberry Liqueur, Galliano, pineapple, and lime and it was served on the rocks. Erin (BFF’s daughter) chose an Old Fashioned made with Bourbon from The St.Augustine Distillery. Even if she won’t admit it, I think it was too much for her. That bourbon is strong!
The meal was a bit pricey, mine was $66.00 plus tip, but it was worth it! I wouldn’t normally say that, but the food was amazing. In fact, when I go back to St. Augustine I will eat there again. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the food! Bad Blogger!
Bridges of St. Augustine
If you read Bridges and Conquering Fear you know bridges are not my favorite, but because we’re at the coast bridges are a fact of life. So over we went!
Bridge of Lions
The Bridge of Lions was built to travel from St. Augustine to Anastasia Island. The bridge was completed in 1927 and has been an icon of St. Augustine since. It is a drawbridge that allows commercial and recreational boats to pass easily through the channel. In 1982 The Bridge of Lions was added to the National historic register.
Vilano Beach Bridge
Crossing the Tolomato River is the Vilano Beach Bridge. It’s not as scary as some of the bridges we had crossed on this trip, but it’s still an incredible experience to view the river and surrounding areas from the top of the bridge.
My favorite part of any coastal trip is the beach, and the oldest city in the USA doesn’t disappoint in that area! Our day had been cloudy, cool, and a bit overcast, but that didn’t stop us from seeking out the smooth sand of a Florida beach!
This beach we discovered after crossing the Vilano Beach Bridge. We found some public parking and headed to the sand. Like I said it was cool, but it was the beach! It was late in the day so the beach wasn’t crowded, perfect for Erin and her RC car to play a bit! I was content to put my feet in the water and just enjoy the breeze and the salt air.
Spending the day in St. Augustine is always a good time. I love the history of the city and all the old and new attractions to see. There is no way you will be bored in the Oldest City in the USA!