Attractions

By VANESSA CACERES

With more than 450 years of history, St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the U.S. The city takes its history seriously and has 36 buildings of colonial origin still standing in the historic district. To get the real skinny on the city’s history without wearing out your feet, step aboard the Ripley’s Red Train Tours or Old Town Trolleys. Both sell all-day tickets so you can hop on and hop off as you please.

While in St. Augustine, embrace your early explorer on a visit to Castillo de San Marcos, a national park that began construction in 1672. The structure is considered the oldest masonry fort in the country.

Over at Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, you can drink water from its “fountain”—but you may come away with fun memories more than ageless qualities. It’s located on the actual site of the first settlement in St. Augustine and was founded 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before Plymouth Rock. Check out the cosmos in the planetarium, visit the Timucuan Village or marvel at the sound of the Spanish cannon. For all the dog lovers out there, the Fountain of Youth is a pet-friendly attraction.

St. Augustine has plenty of tours to guide you around town, from art walks and a “pup crawl” (a walking tour on which you can bring your dog) to nighttime ghost tours and culinary-focused themes. There’s even the St. Augustine Scavenger Hunt: The Pretty Ancient City, where you embark on a quest for treasures while discovering the city’s many great sights.

A visit to St. Augustine isn’t complete without stopping by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. Its exhibit, Wrecked, tells the story of a Revolutionary War-era shipwreck off the area’s coast.

In Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will take you on a world tour of animals without ever leaving Florida. From its Wild Florida area to Monsoon Asia, the Africa Loop, and more, you’ll view dozens of animals that are hard to spot elsewhere.

For a different view of Jacksonville, use the St. Johns River Taxi in the downtown area. The taxi service also offers tours.

A popular attraction in Fernandina Beach is Fort Clinch State Park, where history and nature meet. Explore one of the best-preserved 19th-century forts in the country, then hike or bike on the park’s trails, featuring maritime hammocks, massive live oak trees and wildlife.