Have you ever wondered what the oldest city in the United States is? You’re probably thinking Jamestown, Roanoke, or something in New England. It would be a good guess, but the answer is actually St. Augustine, in Florida!
St. Augustine is a quaint little town located in Northeast/East Central Florida. It was founded in 1565 by a Spanish admiral named Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. Fun fact – Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ ship first spotted land on August 28 which is the feast day of Saint Augustine, hence the name!
Fountain of Youth
You can actually visit the exact spot that Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his crew first landed in September of 1565! The beautiful natural springs are allegedly (not historically confirmed) the site of Ponce de Leon’s famous quest for the legendary Fountain of Youth. It is also an active archeological dig site – since the 1930s they have found over 97,000 artifacts from Menendez’s landing, early Spanish settlements, and even 3,000 year old Ticumua Indian artifacts. Visiting the park today offers fun for everyone, whether it’s strolling through nature, checking out the dig sites, or learning about the history; it’s definitely worth a trip!
This place is full of fun facts and records: did you know St. Augustine is home to the nation’s narrowest street? It’s called Treasury Street and it’s only 7ft. wide! Add sentence about why it was built like this. Today it’s one of my personal favorite “Instagrammable” spots of St. Augustine, the beautiful bright houses and old stone wall make the best backdrop!
The iconic St. Augustine lighthouse (pictured above) is supposed to be one of the most active paranormal sites. Their main resident spirits are the Pittee Girls, two daughters of the post-Civil war lighthouse construction superintendent. The girls drowned tragicly after riding a railway car that did not stop and went into the ocean. While there are several other spirits that call the lighthouse home, the girls are the most active. If you’re looking for an encounter, the lighthouse offers after dark ghost tours!
El Galeon Andalucia
The El Galeon Andalucia is a complete wooden replica of the 16th-century Spanish galleon ships that made up Menendez’s fleet. The impressive 170-foot boat has six decks, three masts, and seven sails. During the summer months it is usually sailing the Atlantic or visiting various US cities, but St. Augustine is the ship’s home port and it’s usually docked there throughout September (and open for tours!)
St. Augustine Today
Modern St. Augustine is still surprisingly “old world”. The city has reconstructed 36 buildings to a historically accurate state. This gives off an amazing (and unexpected) mix of beach town vibes and European city vibes. St. Augustine is the perfect place for a week long escape to the Sunshine State or a quick weekend adventure if you’re more local. I cannot sing enough praises for this place, espcially since my husband and I are about to move about 40 minutes away from the Oldest City (our third state we’ve lived this year!).
To learn more about St. Augustine check out this guide!