One-Tank Trip: St. Augustine

Ponce de Leon ParkLooking for something to do this summer? Want to go somewhere really cool?

You’ve come to the right place to find out about cool places worth visiting – without having to drive for a long time or spending thousands of dollars

Every state has so many unique places to see and explore. And, most are within a tank of gas. Florida is no exception.

So, we packed some snacks, topped off our tumblers, filled our gas tank and headed north to the oldest European settlement in North America – St. Augustine. Loaded with more than 350 years of history, folklore and forts, this vacation destination city did not disappoint.

Here are some of the places vacationers love to visit:

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park – We started our One-Tank Trip at a popular tourist spot. It’s a walking tour of how Florida used to be. You can drink from the “actual” Fountain of Youth, watch a cannon firing, see live blacksmith demonstrations, see an ancient burial ground, visit a Planetarium (OK, this is new Florida but it demonstrates how the old ships navigated by the stars to get to St. Augustine), visit a Native American village and take countless cool photos.

Old St. John’s County Jail – Pink Victorian hotel on the outside, deadly prison on the inside, the Old Jail is one of St. Augustine’s most popular tourist attractions. Costumed tour guides lead you through the legend of this over-sized sheriff’s home and oft-over-populated jail all-in-one with nary a bathroom in sight. This reminder of a cruel past (public hangings anyone?), is a true slice of history that won’t be repeated any time soon. Thankfully.

Gas Restaurant – Featured on cable TV food shows, we made the quest for their famous Jalapeno Popper Cheeseburger. The grass-fed beef concoction delighted and the assortment of local craft beers accented a great dining experience. Helpful hint: Gas’ food is very good. Therefore the restaurant is very popular. That means it’s going to be busy – but the 4-seat bar is usually empty. Sit there and avoid the wait for a table. The bartenders were awesome! (As was the entire staff.)

Bar None Saloon – This local watering hole is one of St. Augustine’s best dive bars according to Yelp – and we couldn’t agree more. An eclectic crowd – heavy on bikers, er, motorcycle enthusiasts – makes everybody feel welcome while the friendly and very accommodating bartender pours with a heavy hand. There’s plenty of good food, music and conversation to keep you entertained until it’s time to call an Uber.

St. Augustine Lighthouse – 219 steps take you to the top of the lighthouse where you can take in amazing views and snap great photos while the constant breeze reminds you of your altered altitude. This must-do provides great sight lines, numerous history lessons and great memories while providing one of the best workouts you’ve ever enjoyed.

Shopping – The downtown shopping district is jammed full of art shops, souvenir shops, bars, candy stores, restaurants, a Pirate museum and even a Tervis store! You’re sure to find something interesting that you can’t live without.

Castillo de San MarcosThe oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. still stands guard of Matanzas Bay. With more than 315 years of history, this is the go-to attraction in St. Augustine and it’s easy to lose track of the clock while you check out every room, nook and cranny in the castle. You’ll find plenty of history, artifacts and educational displays that are only outnumbered by the awesome photo opportunities.

Scarlett O’Hara’sThis popular indoor/outdoor eatery and bar is just a few steps away from the hustling shopping district and is a great place to take a break while chasing a local ghost story. Go up the stairs to the Ghost Bar and learn what love-gone-bad can do to someone. Afterwards, go back down and enjoy some good grub and great drink specials. The latter are perfect to toast the ghost.

We packed all of that adventure into 2 days. That still leaves us a lot to do next time we visit – and that’s fine with us as we plan to visit the oldest European settlement in North America time and time again. Hope to see you there.