My younger son’s girlfriend is in college so her logical choice for a trip to see her boyfriend here in Florida is during Spring Break. Unfortunately it’s when all the Spring Breakers are here in Florida. Roll that together with Bike Week – which was the same exact week – why? … and you have a state filled with tourists and traffic.
So what did we do? We went to St. Augustine which has become attraction city. I used to love St. Augustine but like every other beautiful space in Florida it has become a place to build up and make money.
One attraction that has always been worth a visit, and it’s fairly affordable compared to many Florida attractions, is the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. Once a hotel, the building now houses odd things like portraits of Daryl and Michone (Walking Dead fans will recognize those names) done in barbecue sauce.
The biggest attraction in the city is the historic Castillo de San Marcos fort. In my humble opinion, this historic landmark is still standing for us to visit today thanks to the almighty seashell. Little coquina shells to be exact, and the big roll they played in building this place. You may read more about that at one of my previous blog posts entitled The Famous Fort in St. Augustine Made out of Seashells.
I also did something in St. Augustine which I have never done before while in this city. I visited a bar and had a drink. Every visit I’ve ever made to this area was with children, either my family or with school kids as a chaperone. (If you have kids, visit the Old Jail – they will love it.)
While chaperoning kids I could not sit down and have a cold one (although that was when I needed it most!). The opportunity to eat with my grown son meant I could behave like an adult. As we stood on St. George Street wondering where to eat, we heard someone playing guitar and singing. It happened to be coming from a green building next to us. Upstairs at the Mill Top Tavern we found the musician.
Now that I am home writing about the Tavern, I see that it has undergone recent renovations. It’s being expanded and pretty much everything outside has been re-done. It’s not surprising that many of these old buildings need re-building what with the Florida humidity, storms and hurricanes. This one has a water wheel, which I neglected to see. But inside was still a trip back in time with wood floors and bar top and an old style. I hope they are able to keep some of the old charm.
View of St. George Street From Balcony of Mill Top Tavern
The Mill Top was a small place and all the tables were full so we ate at one in the bar area. The wait staff were very friendly and the music was nice. Apparently the place HAD a view out the back of The Fort across the street, but now buildings are going up and have blocked that view.
The kids (my son and his girlfriend) visited the Wax Museum and my older son and I went to the Pirate Museum (skip that one). Then we walked over and met up at the Castillo de San Marcos. Every place costs around $10 (fort) to $15.99 (Ripley’s) with discounts for vets and seniors.
It was a beautiful day with cooler than normal weather, which I loved. Parking was a bear and we ended up in the parking garage, which cost $15. Everything is close, so it’s easy to walk to see various places. There are tram rides too for those who don’t want to walk, and you can catch a tram outside the parking garage.
Because I write about seashells, I had to include this photo of a giant clam shell which is displayed just inside the entrance to the Ripley’s museum.
I don’t honestly know when would be a good time (crowd free) to visit St. Augustine. If you don’t mind crowds and love to spend money at every turn, it’s the place to be.