Following Spanish Footsteps: St. Augustine's Historical Sites

It is no surprise that almost all the St. Augustine things to do are of historical significance. It's our nation's oldest city and the majority of its Spanish history is well preserved.

Castillo de San Marcos
1 South Castillo Drive
St. Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 823-9388
http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm

Castillo de San Marcos is the famous St. Augustine fort. It was originally constructed to defend Spain's claim on the territory and still remains in good condition today. There are several ways that visitors can experience this huge part of St. Augustine history. Exploring the fortress on your own is a great way to see every inch of the monument. Exhibits are placed throughout, and with the aid of maps and brochures you can easily find your way around. If you feel like you want to learn more about the history of the fort then you can join a Ranger talk at any point. Throughout the day these Ranger Programs are scheduled at different areas of the fort. There is a 25-minute video shown every hour that tells of the intricate timeline of Castillo de San Marcos. Demonstrations and reenactments are scheduled throughout the day as well.

The large green lawn on the property is a wonderful place to have a picnic or just sit and pass the time. Admission into the fort is $6 per person and the ticket is valid for seven days. With the exception of Christmas Day, the fort is open from 8:45 am to 5:15 pm every day. During certain seasons hours are extended. You'll be thinking about this site long after you return to your St. Augustine Bed and Breakfast.

Spanish Quarters Museum
53 St. George Street
Saint Augustine, FL 32085
904-825-6830
http://staugustinegovernment.com/your_government/PurposeofHT.cfm

At the BBonline recommended Spanish Quarters Museum, visitors are taken back to the 1700s as actors dress and play the part of villagers. The museum is open daily for self-guided tours. You can stop by the blacksmith's shop or talk to a soldier's wife while they take you through their day-to-day life. This a wonderful way to understand what life was like in St. Augustine in the past. Admission will cost roughly $7 for adults.

Nombre de Dios
27 Ocean Avenue
St. Augustine FL 32084
(904) 824-2809
http://www.missionandshrine.org/

Nombre de Dios is America's first mission. Its history dates back to 1565 and was a sacred spot for Spanish settlers. A 208-foot cross stands tall above the Mantanzas River. Visitors can take a walking tour of the mission grounds. Two chapels, an archeological excavation, statues and altars can be viewed. The rich Spanish history can easily be seen in the religious art work and architecture on the grounds. There is no admission price to tour Nombre de Dios, but donations are appreciated.

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
14 St. George Street
St. Augustine FL 32084
(888) 653-7245
http://www.oldestwoodenschoolhouse.com/

The oldest wooden schoolhouse dates back to the 1700s while Florida was still under Spanish control. It was constructed out of red cedar, cypress, wooden pegs and handmade nails, which still hold the building together today. It was the first co-ed school in 1788 and housed the schoolmaster's family upstairs. Viewing the tiny building, it's hard to imagine that it was once a school and that it is nearly 300 years old. It will make you think your cozy St. Augustine Inn is a mansion. Visitors can walk through the beautiful gardens behind the schoolhouse and look inside the actual school and separate kitchen. It becomes noisy and crowded if you happen to visit the same time as a school group, but they normally don't stay long and you can stick it out. This historic St. Augustine site is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday until 8:00 pm. On Sunday the school closes at 6:00 pm. Admission is $3 per person.