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  • Writer's pictureJody Johnson

Sweet St. Augustine

Gorgeous Spanish architecture, plenty of fresh seafood, and a whole lot of history make up this city on the sandy coast of Northeast Florida. Last July, while talking with some lady friends, we decided that another winter like 2018 would certainly be the death of us, and the only way to survive was to make definite plans for a Winter get away.

We had spent a week in St. Petersburg a few years back and decided that Florida would make a great escape again. We unknowingly picked a great week for a vacation as the temps in our home states of MT and WI hit some record setting sub zero lows. The arctic front took over much of the US but the high of 53 we experienced one day in FL was still over 80 degrees warmer than the -30 that Montana was experiencing!! We rented a house this time through AirBnB with its own private pool and just two block from the beach.

St. Augustine is the oldest continually populated city in the US, dating back to 1565. The Castillo de San Marcos, one of the main attractions, is a 17th-century Spanish fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet.

The fortress is built of coquina (upper right), an ancient stone comprised of seashells and calcium, that is strong enough to bounce canon balls off. The Castillo is open to tourists and has rooms set up to mimic life in the 1600's. While they no doubt enjoyed such amenities as their share of fresh seafood, those beds do not look too cozy for sleeping!

A garden behind a downtown boutique, the St. Augustine Distillery, Viola's lobster ravioli

The Lightner Museum in the downtown area takes you back in time to when the city was the place to winter for the jet-set of the era. . .or should I say 'train-set'? It formerly held Russian and Turkish style baths and claimed the largest indoor pool in the world.

The beautiful Spanish Renaissance-style building now houses an extensive art and historical collection as well as a cafe and several antique stores that make for fun dining and browsing.

Oaks covered in Spanish moss
Canopy of Oaks on Magnolia Avenue

We visited the oft photographed Magnolia Avenue (not sure how it was given that name) that is lined with around 60 mature oak trees that create a dramatic canopy that is covered in Spanish moss. This 'moss' is actually not a moss at all but related to pineapples and succulents. It uses trees for support but does not feed off of them.

Beach time is always my favorite time of any coastal vacation. Growing up near the West Coast the sunsets were what you'd wait all day for, praying for just a hint of cloud to give the dropping sun something to light the sky up with. Several mornings I set my alarm to get up in time to hit the beach, coffee in hand, to see the sun fire up the other side of the horizon. I think I could get used to sunrises.

Till we me again East Coast.

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