top of page

Travel tip, USA, St. Augustine, - here the history of the United States was made!

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

St. Augustine is located in Florida and, in addition to summer and sun being guaranteed all year round, is one of the main reasons why millions travel to Florida, but ...! Now it is the case that Florida has a multitude of different offers and, not least, - important stories. Let's just take a single area!

That many people want to remain young, both in spirit and in appearance, is no news, but perhaps it is one of the reasons why they travel to St Augustine. Because the "Fountain of Youth" they are looking for is right here in St Augustine. If its history they're interested in, well then they'll also find the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States, right here in St. Augustine. (facts at the end of the article)

Text and photo Ingar Næss. (c) (90% translated to English from Norwegian by Google)

St. Augustine FL, USA. St. Augustine can be dated all the way back to 1565. Those who have read its history, know that 1565 is 40 years before Jamestown was settled. I am also told that it predates the Pilgrims' establishment at Plymouth Rock. It is further said that the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was convinced that he would find the fabled fountain of youth they had in this region and although historians have largely dismissed the story, that has not stopped the city from embracing the legend.

St. Augustine is much more than the Fountain of Youth industry. If you're looking for a city filled with Spanish and Moorish Revival architecture history, as well as Southern charm, you've come to the right place. The proof that St. Augustine's old town is important can be found in the "National Register of Historic Places", and is of course the oldest part of the town. Many of the buildings date back to the 18th century, with several of the streets having existed even longer than that. The layout of the area is as it was, allowing you to take in the charming Spanish and Moorish pastiche architecture at your own pace.

The main things to see after the Fountain of Youth are the Lightner Museum, the wonderfully preserved Ximenez-Fatio House, and not least the Colonial Quarter, where actors perform as blacksmiths, shopkeepers, musicians, and musketeers, bringing this Spanish colonial village to life. Then of course you mustn't forget the big fort!

The Castillo de San Marcos

Standing as a sentinel over St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, Castillo de San Marcos is a true story. Strategically located on Matanzas Bay, the fort was built by the Spanish to protect the city and is the most visited historic site in St. Augustine.

We must remember that the USA is a young country from our Norwegian perspective, but still, after more than 300 years, the fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, has obviously done the job of protecting the citizens of St. Augustine, so that the city can grow and draw thousands of tourists every year.

Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. After 9 wooden forts designed to protect St. Augustine were burned by invaders, the Spanish militia took on the monumental task of building a stone fort to protect the city and its treasury from pirates, the British, and other invaders. Castillo is made of coquina, a locally sourced rock-like mixture made from shells and limestone. The use of coquina as a building material for both the Castillo de San Marcos and the nearby Fort Matanzas created fortifications that were almost impregnable. Construction of the Castillo began in 1672 and took 23 years to complete.

This stronger fortress was never taken in battle.

Castillo played a central role in protecting Spanish St. Augustine from the 18th century to the late 19th century. In 1924, the Castillo, or Fort Marion as it was known at the time, was declared a national monument by President Calvin Coolidge. It was actually quite interesting, being a foreigner, to see how interested the Americans were during the tours and presentations that took place inside the fort. No doubt that they are as proud of this as I am of Tønsberg that's more than 1000 years old, my hometown, and Slotsfjellet.

The Fountain of Youth, Fountain of You

My guide tells me that dropping by Ponce de León's Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is like visiting New York City for the first time and skipping the Statue of Liberty. This park is right next to where the Conquistadors first landed after discovering Florida "The Place of Flowers" in 1513.

Here there is a great view of the Matanzas River and St Augustine. When we were there, there were several people who had brought food and sat and enjoyed in this beautiful park, while they waited for one of the many presentations of what it was like "back then". Don't forget to take a trip to the gift shop and take a bottle of spring's fabled water, though they can't guarantee it will add decades to your life. I caught up with both a tourist and one of the local storytellers to see how effective the fountain of youth actually was, as I myself still feel the years ticking away.

Here you have Alfred and his reaction to the fountain of youth! See video.

Lightner Museum

If you are interested in art and architecture as well as history, the Lightner Museum is a great experience.

The museum was founded by Otto Lightner, from Chicago in 1948, and presents, among other things, Lightner's unique collection of Americana, decorative arts and natural history works. The museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, which was built in 1888 by Henry Flagler, a former railroad magnate. The building was designed by Carrère and Hastings, which was a Spanish Renaissance Revival hotel that hosted thousands of guests who loved its recreational facilities, including the world's largest swimming pool, Turkish and Russian steam baths, tennis courts, and a gymnasium. The Alcazar closed during the Depression and the former Gilded Age resort was transformed into a museum of art and artifacts by Otto Lightner.

Today the heart is of Lightner-Museet's diverse and extraordinary collection, including lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, American and European paintings, geological specimens and shells collected from around the globe, and mechanical musical instruments from the Victorian era. Many of the visitors spend the whole day and more, it is said. Either way, it's a fun souvenir

The Ximenez House

The Ximenez House was built as a merchant's home and store in 1798, later "Miss Fatio's," St. Augustine's most fashionable boarding house, was built. Today it is a historic house museum, authentically restored to reflect its heyday during Florida's first tourism boom from the 1830s to the 1850s. Each room tells a unique story about early visitors and how they experienced the oldest city. Now a little food and drink! When you get hungry there are of course plenty of options, I got several recommendations, but chose a small nice restaurant called Sea Food on St. George street, the pedestrian street.

I wanted a quick, healthy lunch and chose fresh fish with salad. If you are here in the afternoon and/or evening, there is live music in the garden at the back. The food was good, and the staff very pleasant, so the place can be recommended for a visit.

Potter's Wax Museum On the way to the car, I discovered a small curiosity, an old wax cabinet! Potter's Wax Museum is located at 31 Orange Street, St. Augustine. In total, you'll find over 160 wax sculptures covering a wide range of real and fictional figures, including famous politicians, entertainers, horror figures, historical figures, sports stars, and other celebrities. Even a hero from my own childhood appeared, namely Davy Crockett.

Fun to see how they make the masks. The museum itself is located in an ancient building with a lot of

St Augustine Alligator Farm

Then I took a quick trip to St Augustine Alligator Farm. Since I arrived at the "wrong time" and it was a little bit of sleep time, visitors could wake them up a bit by buying a bag of food and when it was thrown into the water, yes, there was, as I said, a bit of life. It was only when the main feeding took place that there was a real fight for the treats. It was a pleasant place with all the birds enjoying themselves around the entire facility.

St Augustine Alligator Farm is open all year round and is the facility with the most crocodile species in the world (they say). Here there are also lots of birds and other animals, fossils, and Gomek, a giant crocodile.

I found a new friend among all the birds

Climbing park After you finish here, just go around the corner to a climbing park. Here you can get a good view of all the alligator park's attractions, from the park's climbing wall or via one of two cable cars that will send you floating in the air several meters above the ground.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Once in this area, it's only a few meters from one of the most iconic places in the city, the St. Augustine Lighthouse. It is said that this famous attraction is constantly featured on national television shows and in news articles, no wonder since this city is established on the "discovery" and establishment of an entire nation. But it was probably Leiv Eriksson who discovered America. Regardless, this is a historical reason and worth a visit. If you take the trip all the way up the 219 steps, you get a great view of the entire area

When in Florida, do as the locals do and get your daily dose of vitamin D at a nearby beach. In St Augustine, that means going to Anastasia State Park for swimming, kayaking, and or stand-up paddleboarding in the Atlantic Ocean. Here you'll find four miles of white quartz-sand beaches in a 1,600-acre wildlife sanctuary, where you might spot the occasional pod of dolphins that visit the area. If you're feeling adventurous, you can go for a walk on the park's many trails to experience a large and diverse wildlife

This is what the guide says when I get to the top of the lighthouse, after 219 steps. It was actually very easy after sipping the water from the "Fountain of Youth"!

Overnight in St Augustine

There are a large number of nice little places here, but I recommend checking with e.g. or others that you yourself like to use since I myself did not spend the night there.

I set my sights on Panama City Beach, Biloxi and New Orleans on Day 2 of my Road Trip.


St Augustin, Florida ca 2t from Orlando, with a car. Nice roads all the way. St Augustine is a city in St. Johns County in Florida, USA, where it is the administrative center. In 2007, the city had 12,284 inhabitants and a metropolitan area with more than 70 thousand inhabitants. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers and settlers, the city is the oldest city in the continental United States. Wikipedia


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page