To be clear, we've been in Florida for almost two months now and the first part of our stay in St. Augustine seems ages ago. But we'll start there and work our way through the state, since each place has its own sites to see and St. Augustine definitely deserves its own story.
To check out our time in Nashville and read a recount of Shaun's song-writing story, see Writing Songs in Music City.
Now on to the land of orange groves and beaches and strip malls and retirement communities. Welcome to Florida, the sign says, watch out for our bad drivers and hurricanes. No, the sign didn't say that, but it should... just as a courteous warning. Anyway, our first stop in the state was St. Augustine and even though we had been there once before with my sister, we were still looking forward to getting to know the historical town a little better. Our account here doesn't include all of the normal touristy stuff, since we'd 'been there, done that' the last time. But this will include a funky little popsicle stand, a prohibition themed distillery, and a dive bar where you can sink your toes into the sand while enjoying another fried fish basket and a cold beer.
Our reservation was in the Faver-Dykes State Park, a 30 minute drive south from St. Augustine proper. There is another state park just outside the town called Anastasia State Park, but I hear unless you book those sites a decade in advance, you're SOL. So, we made our way down the endless single-lane, rough road that leads to Faver-Dykes State Park and our campsite for the next week.
While in the St. Augustine area, we worked during most days and then took one day to really checkout the town.
If you want to do St. Augustine right, I would recommend the following, as well as what I cover below:
Go on a ghost tour.
Do some wine tasting at the winery.
Visit the Castillo de San Marcos.
Drink sangria anywhere.
Kiss under the love tree.
Eat at the Floridian.
Popsicles at The Hyppo
Would I normally stop at a popsicle stand? Probably not. Ice cream on the other hand... However, when I read of 'craft popsicles' being produced in a quaint little shop along the main promenade of St. Augustine, I added it to our agenda for the day of sight-seeing. The Hyppo is a gourmet ice pop shop and they have locations throughout Florida. The array of options in their line of freezer chests can be overwhelming, but a quick inquiry as to favorites from the staff can help narrow down the options. I chose the blackberry and goat cheese flavor, while Shaun selected The Elvis with banana, honey, and peanut butter. Let's just say they hype is real. Yum.
Shopping along St. George Street
This cobblestone road is the hub of St. Augustine's Old Town and is lined with cafés, restaurants, taverns, and shops. Everything you want and nothing you need all in one place. While shopping normally isn't a go-to activity for us - living in a trailer significantly reduces our options for 'stuff' - it was still a fun way to spend some of our time in the town. We meandered from shop to shop, while enjoying the live music pouring from the taverns, and taking in the delicious scents wafting from the bakeries and restaurants.
Relaxing at the Anastasia State Park Beach
Visiting the beach here only confirmed our disappointment in not being able to secure a camping spot. The park is only a 10 minute drive outside of town and the uncrowded, pristine beach made for a totally perfect afternoon.
Cocktails at The St. Augustine Distillery
It was late afternoon and that meant cocktail hour! The distillery sits just outside downtown proper, but is an easy drive or trolley ride. This speakeasy themed distillery and bar was right up our Portland hipster mixologist-loving alley. The drinks were handcrafted and mixed with only the best liquor options. Every detail was paid attention, from the authentic exposed brick walls, to the white marble bartop, and even suspenders on the bartenders. I opted for the Notorious F.I.G, because that's how I roll! And I happen to have an extreme affinity for all things fig. Shaun went with his good ole stand-by, the Old Fashion. We took our drinks to the balcony and enjoyed views of a deserted parking lot and the distillery's truck. The truck was pretty cool.
Watch the sunset at Beaches at Vilano
Voted as one of the best places to watch the sunset, we decided to end our tour of the town here. I was also lured by a photo of colorful adirondacks lined up along the beach in their google profile. Well, the adirondacks were a ruse, but plastic patio tables in the sand were real. The food is your standard 'Caribbean' fare with lots of fried options, complete with tiki decor. But we sunk our toes into the sand of the Tomolato River and happily sipped our beers, while watching a pod of dolphins swim by and the sun go down. We forgave the adirondacks.
We'll be back St. Augustine, for you are a little piece of Florida heaven.