The Ultimate Guide to St. Augustine, Revisited

St. Augustine just celebrated 450 years. By American standards, that’s a really long time. So in honor of the big 4-5-0, I’m revisiting my guide to the Ancient City that I started nine months ago (life apparently got in the way).

I covered a lot of places to go in Part 1: The Castillo de San Marcos, St. George Street, the Nights of Lights (when in season), the Bridge of Lions. Here are some other places to check out:

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It sits slightly on the outskirts of downtown (though if you walk from downtown, check out all the cute vintage shops along San Marco Avenue) but worth a visit. It’s an Spanish Catholic Mission run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine and is free to check out (donations suggested). The main highlight is the GIGANTIC bronze cross that rises 200+ feet into the air. As you head towards the Matanzas River, you run into Father Francisco LĂłpez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of city-founder Pedro MenĂ©ndez’s fleet and one of the first of the city settlers to set foot in what is now St. Augustine on September 9, 1565.

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Rising up behind Father López is the Great Cross is supposed to be a beacon of faith for all those that pass by. Two-hundred and eight-feet high,  it was completed in 1966.

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My favorite part of the grounds is the lush green Chapel of Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery) that sits just beyond a graveyard. It was built to reflect the Spanish mission style of the 1500’s. If you feel inspired, you can light a candle in the shrine. We opted to admire it from afar the day we went.

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The Oldest House Museum and Gardens

This was our first stop on our first trip to St. Augustine, mostly because we were scoping it out as a potential wedding venue (or at least I was). The spot, owned by the St. Augustine Historical Society, is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial dwelling in Florida.

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The house itself is pretty cool if you like history — it shows how people lived long ago. There are tours of the house, a museum on local history and the gorgeous gardens — the latter being my favorite part! While we didn’t end up getting married here (we got married across the street at the Llambias House, another St. Augustine Historical Society building), it’s still worth a stop in at least once, to take in the majestic oaks and little features that make it such a cool spot (like a small kitchen building and the lions below).

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The St. Augustine Lighthouse

The black and white swirl of the St. Augustine Lighthouse rises above the flat lands of Anastasia Island, making this iconic structure not just visible from sea but from numerous bridges and landmarks across the city. It’s the city’s oldest surviving brick structure, dating back to 1888, a replacement to lighthouses long gone that were built in far more flammable materials (like wood) or too near the shore (those waves are relentless when storms hit).

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It’s not quite as tall as the Great Cross, rising to 165 feet, but it’s still a long way down! The 219 steps and open ledge are slightly harrowing if you’re not a fan of heights (like me), but are still doable and worth the effort.

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The view can’t be beat no matter which was you look — a sailboat-lined river, the ripples of waves in the ocean, the landscaped doted with homes and historical buildings.

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The St. Augustine Distillery

Covered in detail here. One of the newer gems in St. Augustine. Also, free.

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Henry Flagler’s legacy

Besides the Spanish, Henry Flagler was king in this city. There’s the Lightner Museum, which Flagler opened as the Alcazar Hotel in 1888. The railroad magnate built the hotel to appeal to people who headed south for the winter. IMG_5453

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Across from the Lightner sits the campus of Flagler College. Flagler built the Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1888, which is now part of the college campus. The Spanish Renaissance Revival buildings are still beautiful, 100+ years later, and give the area of the city a distinct look. IMG_5451

Clearly there is plenty to see in St. Augustine. Coming soon: where to eat and stay!

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The Ultimate Guide to St. Augustine Part 1

I’ll admit it — I’m a Northeast snob. When I moved down to Florida, I wasn’t particularly familiar with the historic charm or culinary delights of distinctly southern cities like Charleston and Savannah. Eventually we visited plenty of gorgeous old cities around the south, but one of my favorites is right in our backyard.

St. Augustine is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon or evening. I even got married there. Since we are so close to the city, I thought I’d post an ultimate guide to St. Augustine. Disclaimer: this is only the ultimate guide according to me, Erin Addington.

So what makes St. Augustine so awesome? I’ll hit on the high points before delving into the must-sees (or must-eats, or must-stays). Continue reading

Our St. Augustine Wedding

Joel and I just recently celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. While I never really thought (or cared) about what I wanted from a wedding until Joel and I started talking seriously about getting hitched, our wedding ended up being probably my favorite day ever — it was simple, it was “us” and we had a blast celebrating with our family and friends.

We chose to get married in St. Augustine for two main reasons:

  • The historic district is absolutely gorgeous and had the perfect old Florida feel we wanted. The old buildings, the oaks and Spanish moss, the colors of the city — it’s a backdrop that needs no effort.
  • It was close to Jacksonville but a better location for all the out-of-town visitors. None of my family members or old friends live anywhere remotely close to Florida, so for those flying in, they had plenty of opportunities for food, entertainment and fun within walking distance.

We were engaged for a year and a half, which gave us plenty of time to plan. This was good, because I had a very specific idea of what I wanted and was able to easily execute my vision without stressing out much. Continue reading

St. Augustine Distillery

On a recent weekend trip to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, we hit up one of the newest spots in town: the St. Augustine Distillery.

Located off one of the main downtown thoroughfares, King St., the Distillery takes up half of an old ice plant on Riberia St. It opened its doors to the public in early 2014 and makes small batches of vodka, gin, rum and bourbon, although only the vodka and gin are for sale at the moment.

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Before we actually visited the place, we were able to experience both the gin and vodka in our drinks at the Ice Plant — which occupies the top floor of the building the Distillery is in. Obviously we enjoyed our drinks, because on a breezy Saturday in November, we found ourselves on one of the free tours of the place.

Continue reading

Recipe: Chicken Saltimbocca

Chicken saltimbocca

It’s been a little over a year since Joel and I did the Whole 30. While we’ve added some items back into our every day lives (mainly cheese and booze) we still made an effort to eat pretty close to it for most of our meals. I think the biggest impact it had on our diet was that it completely changed the way we buy food and prepare meals. Not every item we purchase is organic or locally made, but a good chunk of it is.

Every Saturday we head to the Riverside Arts Market to hit up all of our local vendors. Meat comes from JD Beef. Fruits and veggies from Reeds Produce. Spices, energy bars and other goodies from FreshJax.

On Wednesdays, Joel picks up our weekly Black Hog Farm from Bold Bean Coffee, right in our neighborhood.  Eggs, chicken, breakfast sausage, fruits, vegetables — they supplement what I don’t pick up at the Saturday market.

One of my favorite recipes to make, which I made often prior to doing the Whole 30, is chicken saltimbocca. I grew up on Italian food, and still dream about a dish of veal saltimbocca I had one Christmas Eve at Il Piacere around the block from where I grew up in Garfield, NJ. Anyway, I found a healthier version of the chicken dish on Paleo Periodical that I’ve altered a bit over time to my liking, using as many local items as I can. I like to eye my measurements when I cook, so the below instructions are a little more general than most recipes: Continue reading