St. Augustine, Florida

Eric and I came to this area to be near our mail forwarding service in Green Cove Springs in order to establish domicile in Florida, and it just happens to be near the fascinating city of St. Augustine.

I don’t have any ancestors in Florida, but I love any historical site, as do most genealogists.  And St. Augustine is certainly full of history!  It’s the oldest city in the United States, founded by the Spanish in 1565.  There’s a fort, a charming old town area, lots of beautiful historic buildings, and a lovely waterfront.  Below is a photograph which I took from the top of the fort:

Mantazas Bay from Castillo de San Marcos
Mantazas Bay from Castillo de San Marcos

The old town area is dominated by three hotels built and/or owned by a Mr. Henry Flagler in the late 1800’s. One of the hotels, which is now a combination of City Hall and the Lightener Museum, even had an indoor pool back in the day!

City Hall and Lightener Museum
City Hall and Lightener Museum

It turned out that we were in St. Augustine for the annual “Night of Lights”, held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving for the past 23 years.  Many thousands of people gather in the central plaza for holiday music, speeches, and the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree and all the other trees as well.  It was a heart-warming family event, especially when everyone oohed and aahed in unison the moment the light switch was turned on:

Night of Lights, St. Augustine, Florida, "Before"
Night of Lights, St. Augustine, Florida, “BEFORE”
Night of Lights, St. Augustine, Florida, "AFTER"
Night of Lights, St. Augustine, Florida, “AFTER”

All over the town, the shops and restaurants were also covered in festive lights – truly a sight to see!

I haven’t spent too much time during this trip acting like a tourist, but we definitely did the tourist thing in this town, from riding around on the Old Town Trolley, to taking tours of the historical sites.  I’d like to come back – maybe I can time it to see the Night of Lights next year!

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