I’m a big fan of playing tourist in your own city and Orlando makes it easy to find a vast amount of things to do to occupy your free time. However, sometimes it’s nice to pack up and get away. Traveling reminds me of the essentials my family needs to get through a day and resets my mind completely from what’s waiting to be done at home.
St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city and appropriately has a historic district worth seeing. Other tourist-friendly spots and restaurants have taken residence nearby to cater to the visitors and provide a worry-free vacation spot that is sure to ease your mind and leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
When it comes to figuring out where to stay, you have the option of staying near the historic district and the beautiful Bridge of Lions or on Anastasia Island where you will be right off or very near the ocean. We’ve stayed at many locations, but our absolute favorite hotel so far is the Hilton Garden Inn, located at 401 A1A Beach Boulevard. It’s just across the street from the ocean and 2 blocks from a pier. The fight for many hotels is to keep a clean smell and dry accommodations in the humidity. The Hilton met our expectations and although older, it was a wonderful option for our family of four. We happened to have been put in a wheelchair accessible room, which left plenty of room for our playard. The rooms also come equipped with a microwave and fridge to help with the leftovers you are almost guaranteed to have with children in tow.
Every staff member we encountered had a friendly smile and was helpful with our requests. David, at the breakfast buffet, was exceptionally friendly and made sure to start our day off with a smile. You’ll find that same charm throughout the St. Augustine area. I’ve never had so many people hold open the door for me to help get the stroller through or been welcomed with a genuine smile with every store I visited at the Outlets. You get the feeling people really enjoy showing you their neck of the woods.
The time of year will affect how much you can enjoy St. Augustine. We’ve gone a few times in the summer and it’s the same as Orlando with an added sea breeze depending on where you are. It almost makes it bearable to be out, but I would recommend finding indoor attractions for those more vulnerable to the heat. If you do go to the beach, it’s already hot in the morning and the water is still warm. You’ll be sure to cross safely with these handy flags at crossing points. My daughter loved waving it as we carefully crossed from the hotel over to the beach.
Our favorite indoor entertainment is Ripley’s Believe It or Not because you can stroll through and look at oddities or take your time to read through the background stories of the collection. This past trip, however, we made our first visit to Potter’s Wax Museum. While you must pay to park, your ticket will allow you to park for the entire day so you can plan your visit in the Historic District accordingly. Parking is otherwise scarce. You will need to build extra time into your schedule to find a spot and walk. This may be where having a strategically located hotel comes in handy for popular events like Independence Day fireworks. (We attended these a couple years ago and were very pleased with the show.)
In the fall, you can visit the Castillo de San Marcos and stroll through the Historic District. You could even take a walk across the Bridge of Lions, and if you are lucky, will see the drawbridge lift up to allow a pirate ship through.
Whether you go for a day trip or a long weekend, you’ll be sure to find quite a few things to do to occupy your time while giving the family many memories to build upon. Happy travels!
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