During a recent trip to Georgia to visit my daughter, we took a side trip to St. Augustine. I knew only two things about this city in Florida. First, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and second, I knew the city had a great lighthouse.
As we drove south, towards the city, I honestly was a little nervous. We had no plans whatsoever. If you read my last post, you know this is not how I usually roll. I’m a planner…okay, an over-planner. I hadn’t made any plans for our St. Augustine trip and I wondered if I was letting everyone down.
As we got closer to our location, I begin to watch billboards.
Should we start in the historical part of town?
Should we stop to eat and ask the locals what we should do?
Should we jump on the trolley and see what happens?
My daughter and I once did a trolley tour in Savannah, so I thought this would be the best place to start.
We followed the signs to the trolley ticket office, and, as I secretly suspected, there were numerous brochures enticing us to try all kinds of activities. We grouped up and decided what we all wanted to do on our one day excursion.
We were then driven to Trolley Stop 1- the Old Town and the Old Jail. Everything is preceded by ‘old’ in St. Augustine. We started our adventure in jail.
We would later return to that jail on our ghost tour, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our next stop, where we exited the trolley, was at St. George Street’s walking mall. We looked in a few shops and stopped to eat. Before we boarded the trolley again, we took a few minutes to tour the oldest wooden school-house. It was quaint, but, I’m not going to lie, the mannequins of the children were a little creepy for my taste.
We rode the trolley for a while and learned a little bit more about the history of the town. Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain in 1513. In September 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed in Florida with 700 soldiers and colonist. He founded St. Augustine and it is now the oldest continually occupied city in North America.
After the trolley tour, we raced to our car to make the short drive to the Alligator Farm. We were trying to see alligators and the lighthouse before the attractions closed for the day.
I’m a little obsessed with alligators, but I highly recommend stopping at the farm if you’re in St. Augustine. Not only did we see alligators from all over the world, we saw other interesting wildlife.
I was afraid we wouldn’t make the lighthouse before it closed, but fortunately summertime hours gifted us an extra hour to tour. We slowed our pace since we had an extra hour, but when we approached the door to the lighthouse, the guide informed us that a storm was rolling in and the lighthouse would close if lightning was spotted. We headed up the 219 stairs at breakneck speed. I didn’t want to miss the views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean.
We beat the lightning and the view was better than I imagined. It was nice to pause and take it in after all the running we did to get to the top.
We ended our night with a ghost tour. The actors along the tour were creative and entertaining. My favorite stop was the old drugstore museum. I felt like I stepped back in time.
And yes, the jail was quite creepy at night. Some of the cells contained life-size mannequins. I’m not sure they didn’t move a little on their own.
I saw no ghost on the tour, but I’m sure they were just out of sight.
If I’d planned this trip, I doubt I would have included all the stops we made. I wouldn’t have thought we would have the time. I liked not being tied to any schedule or reservation. I think I could get used to travelling this way!