Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Plan a Bed and Breakfast Escape in Florida

As I sit and relax in the warm spot of the US today, I thought I'd share some local tips for travel to the Sunshine state. When most people think of Florida, they automatically think about all of the Orlando Parks. When I first moved to Florida, I was under the same perception. However, Florida has a great deal more to offer visitors.

We had guests in town this past weekend with no interest in doing the parks or going to the beach. They are both history enthusiasts, so we decided to make the trek to the St. Augustine area. We were coming from central Florida, so this entailed a drive. We got up bright and early and started our trek. Our first stop was Fort Mantanzas, which is located about thirty minutes South of St. Augustine on SR A1-A. Admission is free. Fort Mantanzas was originally built in 1742 as a way to hold off the British from St. Augustine. You have to take a 10 minute boat ride to get to the fort, but the ride is pleasant and we have often seen dolphins and in the spring large amounts of jelly fish. A guide accompanies you and always provides some historical background on the fort and Spanish history. If you want to do a little background research, check out

After stopping at the fort, we continued on SR A1-A and followed the signs to the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Admission is is $8.00 for adults. We climbed 218 steps to the top and learned a lot about about the lighthouse keepers lives and families. It took about an hour to see everything. Then we were on to St. Augustine.

Our first stop here was the Castillo de San Marcos or the Star Fort. Again, admission is free. The construction of the fort began in 1642 and includes 20.5 acres. There are guides and tours to provide background on the fort's history. You can also take a look at Castillo de San Marcos From the fort, we could see the town and structures of St. Augustine. We spent about an hour looking through the exhibits of the fort and then headed through the original gates of the city to explore the historic city area. We took a walking tour of the city viewing all of the historic buildings and wandering in and out of shops. The city is interesting as it has gone through many renovations. First it is the oldest European settlement in the United States. It changed hands from Spanish, to British, to Spanish, and finally to the US. The architecture reflects the change of hands in that you can see both Spanish and British influences. In 1883, the Oil Tycoon Henry Flagler invested large amounts of money towards making St. Augustine a resort town. He added a number of impressive buildings. A great place for background on the city is St Augustine History.

We decided to head back to our home in Central Florida. However, you could easily make this area a 3 day stay. The city is known for its restaurants and night life. You can spend a day playing on the beach, go on an evening ghost tour, or take in a play. St. Augustine has a number of boutique hotels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts. If you want to be in the mix of it all, choose lodging in the historic square. Our guide offers five inns and bed and breakfasts to get you on your way. Check out: St Augustine Oh, yes. Can you tell them that we guided you to them?

Next up, Sebastian Inlet and 1715 Spanish Fleet McLarty Treasure.

No comments: