Think about the last time you went away with your significant other on a trip…just the two of you. When was the last time you were able to have a couples getaway? When couples finally get the chance to getaway, reconnect and unwind from busy schedules, you want to feel like you have been on vacation. You often want to recapture some of the (pre-children and daily responsibilities) romance. You want the opportunity to spend time together in a beautiful location, enjoy activities, sample various foods, relax, shop and basically have a time of rejuvenation. Being a wife, mom to 4 boys (ranging in ages from 19 years old to 22 months old), caregiver helper to my parents, mompreneur, etc., my days are busy and full. Combined with my husband’s in-demand career, we needed a “grownup timeout”. We were both excited when I was able to partner with Viaja San Agustín (and Florida’s Historic Coast) to become the U.S. Hispanic Ambassador for Florida’s Historic Coast. Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches.
Immediately upon arriving in St. Augustine, we felt transported to a far-away destination. The beautiful ocean panoramic views and the fresh sea breeze helped to add to the tropical environment but the surrounding utterly breath-taking five centuries of architecture reminds you that you’re actually in the midst of history! Childhood history lessons come alive when you see and touch colonial architecture from 450 years ago, walk on the same brick-lined streets that once only horse and carriages traveled and experience the storied collection of historic sites. With more than 450 years of colorful local history to draw from, themed attractions and historical sites bring the history and romance of the Old City to life.
DID YOU KNOW? St. Augustine is the birthplace of the U.S. Hispanic Heritage! By the time the first English settlement in the new world was established at Jamestown, Va., St. Augustine had been a thriving coastal town for more than 40 years. Founded by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, the influence of Spanish history in St. Augustine is still evident today, more than four centuries later. From the Fountain of Youth, which Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon legends are made of, to Castillo de San Marcos, the massive fortress which helped protect Spain’s treasures, St. Augustine celebrates its Hispanic heritage. It’s been more than 450 years since Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded the coastal town, and today visitors can revel in the culture thanks to attractions (some new, like the Colonial Quarter, but most centuries old), restaurants and events celebrating Spanish history.
It’s easy to enjoy romance in St. Augustine because even a simple hand-in-hand romantic stroll will be amongst historic sites, old-world architecture, intimate bed & breakfasts, distinctively unique shopping and fantastic dining selections. Its a must-visit vacation destination for couples so we are sharing our 5 reasons couples should experience St. Augustine and Florida’s Historic Coast.
Delicious Foods. Fresh Seafood. Cuisine Variety. When you go on vacation, you want to be able to enjoy different, fresh, unique and delicious cuisine. St. Augustine restaurants feature flavorful dishes in casual cafes to gourmet eateries, serving quick bites to five-course meals. Fresh Seafood, year-round farm-fresh produce, spicy favorites featuring the destination’s signature datil peppers, Spanish tapas and the very best in New World cuisine are just a few of the culinary delights enjoyed by visitors to Florida’s Historic Coast. The area’s temperate weather means you can dine waterside and outdoors all year long. On any street you can find selections to satisfy all tastes – Spanish, French, Italian, New-Orleans Cajun, American, Seafood and much more.
Michael’s Tasting Room
Combines a relaxed atmosphere with fine dining. Hardwood floors, cozy fireplace and outdoor patio seating makes it comfortable for a family but intimate for a romantic dinner. Michael’s Tasting Room’s menu changes seasonally, created by focusing on Spanish Mediterranean Cuisine with influence from the finest local ingredients.
We dined on the cod fish with chickpeas and apples, which was a refreshing combination twist, and the tres leche dessert with toasted coconut was absolutely delicious!
Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille
New Orleans cuisine is jubilantly alive inside of Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille: St. Augustine! A multi-level courtyard across from St. Augustine’s bay front is a scenic atmosphere to enjoy authentic New Orleans Cajun-style dishes, seafood, steaks and pasta.
History and Spanish/Cuban cuisine come together at Columbia Spanish Restaurant. Founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant℠, and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. Family owned for over 100 years, Columbia has earned acclaim for Old World charm and award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine and wine. The swordfish, flan and chocolate bread pudding added up to one word…delicioso!
The Conch House Marina Resort
The vacation-styled island themed restaurant features the some of finest seafood, steaks, salads, and Caribbean style cuisine. Sit down under a palm tree on the outside deck or dine in one of the unique Jamaican styled grass huts out over the water. Try the spicy Minorcan Chowder (native to St. Augustine) and conch fritters!
Palm Valley Fish Camp
Talk about fresh seafood! Ponte Vedra is known for its beautiful beaches and fantastic dining like the iconic Palm Valley Fish Camp. The vision for the restaurant was to create a neighborhood feel, freshest seafood, amazing views, and old favorite entrees with creative, new twists. It was an absolute feast being able to sample fried green tomatoes, fried fish & shrimp basket, seafood platter, fried chicken and more! Yummy!
Hot Shot Bakery & Café
Hot Shot Bakery & Cafe offers many freshly baked items (cakes, brownies, pastries, etc.), grilled paninis, wraps, signature sandwiches and soups. They serve breakfast all day! Fresh pastries are crafted from original recipes and handmade paninis and wraps. Come by and get some confetti eggs for the kids – an annual Easter tradition in St. Augustine, especially for children, of breaking Easter eggs filled with confetti over someone’s head. 🙂
When it comes to history, no city in the United States can match St. Augustine in terms of age, authenticity or beauty. In 2015, the city of St. Augustine commemorated the 450th Anniversary of its founding as the oldest continuous European settlement in the United States. In homage of being the birthplace of U.S. Hispanic culture, Florida’s Historic Coast has celebrated its Spanish heritage with new attractions, culturally influenced dining, entertainment and tours.
On September 8, 1565, Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles came ashore to found the city of St. Augustine and claim the land for Spain. Menendez’ crew was made up of 800 Spaniards, Africans and Mediterranean peoples. Soldiers and sailors were joined by craftsmen, women and children, and Catholic clergy. They gathered on the shores of a Florida saltmarsh at the site of a large Native American village known as Seloy.
The area had long been home to native Indians. Archeological discoveries suggest that Native Americans lived in the area at least 500 years before the arrival of the Europeans. Known as the Timucua, they lived in an orderly society that benefited from hunting, fishing and small scale farming.
When Menendez and his fleet came ashore on the grounds of what is today the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the Spaniards and the Timucua who lived there sat down together for a Feast of Thanksgiving – a thanksgiving meal that preceded the well-known New England Thanksgiving by 55 years!
Menendez and his crew also celebrated a Catholic Mass, led by Father Francisco Lopez, and built a mission church on the grounds of the current Mission Nombre de Dios. This makes St. Augustine home to the oldest Catholic parish in the United States.
Visitors can explore the heritage of the diverse people who built the city and called it home for centuries before it became a part of the United States at the following historic sites and attractions.
Colonial Quarter ( 29 St. George Street) This 2-acre living history museum recreates St. Augustine’s storied past: 16th Century Spanish – The First City; 17th Century – Spanish Fortified Town; 18th Century – Spanish Garrison Town; and 18th Century British – The 14th Colony. Visitors can explore the centuries and mingle with authentically costumed historic interpreters, participate in a musket drill, climb 35 feet to the top of a 17th century watchtower or sip on refreshments in the Taberna de Caballo, an intimate Spanish tavern, or at the British centric Bull & Crown Pub.
Castillo de San Marcos (1 S. Castillo Dr.) This massive fortress, which took more than 20 years to build (1672- 1695), helped protect Spain’s treasure fleets from the British and pirates. Designed by Ignacio Daza, a Spanish engineer living in Cuba, it is the oldest masonry fort in the United States and was designated as America’s first national monument.
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park (11 Magnolia Ave) Commemorating the founding of La Florida by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon and his legendary search for the Fountain of Youth, archeologists have discovered that the park is the actual site of the original Spanish settlement of St. Augustine of 1565. Spanish colonial military cannon firings, an authentic 16th century boat works, a recreated Seloy Indian Village and exhibits demonstrating how the Spanish explorers navigated the seas are part of this classic experience in St. Augustine.
Gonzalez-Alvarez House (14 St. Francis St.) “The Oldest House” was built in approximately 1702 and owned by a soldier named Tomas Gonzalez. In 1812, it was the home of St. Augustine Mayor Geronimo Alvarez. The home is a National Landmark and is owned by the St. Augustine Historical Society and open for public tours.
Mission Nombre de Dios (27 Ocean Avenue) On Sept. 8, 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles came ashore and founded St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States. On that date, Father Francisco Lopez offered the first Holy Mass here—a site that became the home of the first Catholic parish in the nation. The museum on site tells the story of the mission and visitors can light a candle in the shrine of Our Lady of Le Leche.
Plaza de la Constitucion Established in 1573, the town square is named for its monument to the Spanish constitution of 1812. Soon after the monument was erected, when the monarchy was restored, all such monuments in Spanish territories were ordered to be destroyed. However, St. Augustine’s governor refused and the original monument that stands today is believed to be the only one remaining in the world.
St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, features more than 60 historic sites and attractions, national monuments, and architecturally-rich churches that render old world charm with a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. A great way to learn first-hand about all the historical sites and attractions throughout St. Augustine is tour guides. The area offers several variations of tour guides – trollery, train, walking, horse & carriage and electric vehicle tour bus.
St. Augustine Gold Tours
We experienced Gold Tours with Peter Gold as our tour guide. He has an incredible wealth of knowledge of not only St. Augustine but also of history pertaining to the surrounding areas. Mr. Gold has researched extensively and traveled (even to Puerto Rico) to verify facts, myths and legends. St. Augustine Gold Tours uses a small eco-friendly quiet electric tour bus. The size of the vehicle allows the tour to travel the narrowest and quaintest streets of the ancient city. You will be able to see (and touch) historic buildings because Mr. Gold will stop at any historical site based on passengers request.
Tours are between 75 – 90 minutes and are totally worth it to be able to experience, understand and connect to the extensive history and culture of St. Augustine (and Florida’s Historic Coast). We highly recommend Gold Tours!
Part of the reasoning behind taking a couples getaway is to spend time together and reconnect as a couple. Before you were “mom and dad”, you were a couple in love and St. Augustine helps you to remember that. Saunter hand-in-hand down centuries-old streets; ride horses along the ocean’s edge, take sunset sails and moonlit strolls. Savor creamy chocolates after a gourmet candlelit meal. Cuisine is as inspired as art and culture, and naturally, history speaks for itself. Romance begins with a range of historical inns and B&Bs ready to cater to your romantic trip.
St. George Inn
Beautiful St. George Inn overlooks the historical city gates and is conveniently located on popular St. George Street. The 25 rooms and suites are filled with old world charm but equipped with modern conveniences. Each room offers beautiful water, garden or courtyard views in a tranquil courtyard setting. The wrap-around porch with wood rocking chairs gives you a comfortable setting to see the beauty of the area. St. George Inn offers a romance package so couples can enhance their romantic experience. You can start your day with a hearty European Style Continental Breakfast. Leave your car behind and walk to shops, restaurants, museums and galleries that are all within walking distance of St. George Inn.
The staff are very welcoming and friendly. If you need any help throughout your stay, the knowledgeable staff provides excellent service and offers expert local advice and recommendations. St. George Inn is a must-experience stay!
What better way to create a romantic scenario then by an intimate horse and carriage ride? There is something that brings about a feeling of old-world romance while being driven around by horse and carriage. It’s easy to be transported to a time when horse and carriage were the only method of transportation.
Country Carriages is St. Augustine’s premier carriage company. They offer a wide variety of horse drawn carriage services – weddings, proposals, private horseback rides and all other special events. Their professional staff has over 85 years of combined industry related service and can accommodate most of your needs.
Riding on horse and carriage was not only cozy and quaint but it was exciting to learn more about the horse and carriage legacy and about St. Augustine’s rich history and culture from a different perspective.
Cuddle up on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the narrow brick streets – it’s just one of the many uniquely distinctive attractions at St. Augustine. (If you need a bilingual tour guide, ask for Aaron and his horse Mike at Country Carriages).
Don’t forget to spot for a Love Tree during your romantic horse and carriage ride.
Putting your mind to rest and your body at ease are key to relaxation. From majestic aerial views, pristine beaches, laidback lounges and sailing over calm waters, peace and tranquility can be readily accomplished throughout St. Augustine and Florida’s Historic Coast.
St. Augustine Scenic Cruise Victory III
Take a boat ride aboard Victory III. Departs daily from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina for a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute-narrated tour. Since the 1900’s St. Augustine Scenic Cruise has been giving visitors a special view of the city and a way to enjoy historic landmarks and natural beauty, i.e., dolphins swimming or views of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Get aboard the Victory III, enjoy some light snacks and view numerous historic and natural sights along the St. Augustine waterfront and beautiful Matanzas Bay.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
Did You Know? St. Augustine has a real working lighthouse! The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc. is a private, non-profit museum dedicated to its mission “to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port as symbolized by the working St. Augustine Lighthouse.
From the breathtaking views of Northeast Florida to the artifacts recovered from our ancestors’ vessels, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum covers centuries of history from in and around St. Augustine, Florida. The gorgeous lighthouse offers much to see like an 1876 lighthouse keepers’ house, nature trails, shipyard playarea for kids, and is home to the new Wrecked! exhibit.
The Wrecked! exhibit is where visitors discover St. Augustine’s ties to the American Revolutionary War in this new, interactive exhibition. Visitors can view artifacts from a 1782 British loyalist shipwreck found in St. Augustine and learn how underwater archaeologists locate historic shipwrecks on the ocean floor.
Visitors can climb 219 steps up the historic lighthouse to see amazing views of St. Augustine. We climbed the 219 steps to get to the top and it was worth every step! The top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse is the best place to see a 360 degree view of the city.
Anastasia Beach Inside Anastasia State Park (Florida State Parks)
The very first thing we noticed about Anastasia State Park was the beauty of the clean and pristine beach. For as far as your eyes can see, its miles of sandy shores, sand dunes, rolling waves and abundant wildlife.
Anastasia State Park is an oceanfront Florida State Park on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine. Being situated on its own peninsula, it features a vast Atlantic Ocean beach on the east side and the tidal salt marsh of the Salt Run on the west side. It’s very peaceful, picturesque and the perfect location to take a romantic hand-in-hand stroll on the beach.
Odd Birds Bar
Odd Birds Bar is a new bar concept which showcases the art of craft cocktails and the talent and diversity brought by the professionals in the area. Odd Birds also brings a variety of small bites of eclectic fare to accompany these special spirits. It has a unique atmosphere and provides a chill and relaxing backdrop to the art of making fresh and small batch cocktails. Odd Birds brings something new and refreshing to the scene at St. Augustine, FL. Great place to lounge, hang out and converse with others.
Bin 39: Wine Bar
Located inside the lobby of St. George Inn, is a boutique wine bar and it is open daily. They offer wines by the glass and the bottle as well as selected tastings. Bin 39 feature wines from some of Sonoma’s and Napa’s best wineries. They have carefully selected wines which are unique and from small production. The adorably charming and cozy Bin 39: Wine Bar has a wonderful ambiance to relax, sample various beverages and enjoy it all together as a couple.
In St. Augustine’s early days, St. George Street was the main street, and today the thoroughfare is still considered the heart of the city. On St. George Street, visitors find historic attractions and some of the restaurants, galleries, bakeries and shops for which the city is famous.
St. George Street
A pedestrian-only thoroughfare, bustling St. George Street is the epicenter of downtown St. Augustine. Chock full of shops, restaurants, art galleries and attractions, this historic street is a must for any visitor to the nation’s oldest city. During the day, the streets are filled with shoppers and the restaurants are filled with customers. Trolleys circle around the area giving guests a colorful tour of the city. At night, St. George Street has plenty of nightlife, music and even numerous ghost tours!
In the heart of St. Augustine’s Historic District, St. George Street is closed to cars, making it fun to slow down and explore the many shops, restaurants and galleries tucked into its nooks and crannies.
Meander down the charming, pedestrian-friendly street in search of history and souvenirs. Make sure you take the time to explore – getting lost in the warren of side streets is part of the experience. The city’s Spanish history is evident in the nearby street names – Hypolita, Cordova and Cuna.
Among the popular places to stop is the Spanish Bakery, in a white stucco house tucked behind a courtyard garden off St. George Street. Follow the smell of fresh-baked goods to this favorite breakfast and lunch restaurant. Try an empanada (seasoned ground beef wrapped in a flaky crust) or other lunch specialty.
Wander around and find your new favorite: The Bunnery is a bustling breakfast spot. The St. George Tavern is a long-time fixture on the street. Around the corner on Hypolita Street, Café del Hidalgo serves up paninis and gelatos.
History is all around, so make sure you take time out from shopping and noshing to learn about the city’s early residents. Tour the Pena-Peck House, a Spanish Colonial home built in 1750 for the king of Spain’s royal treasurer, and don’t miss its gift shop.
In recent years, St. Augustine and Florida’s Historic Coast have been receiving great recognition for visitor experiences and being the “best of the best”. Among the notable accolades are the following:
Travel & Leisure (May 2016) – St Augustine was listed as the #4 on Travel + Leisure’s reader- selected Annual America’s Favorite Towns list.
TravelChannel.com (May 2016) – St. Augustine Beach was listed as #6 in the Best 30 Beaches in the World for Families.
TravelChannel.com (May 2016) – St. Augustine Beach was listed as #6 in the Best 30 Beaches in the World for Families.
TripAdvisor (February 2016) – Based on feedback from the TripAdvisor community, St. Augustine Beach was once again selected as a Top 10 Beach in the U.S.
Parent Magazine (March 2015) – St. Augustine among the Top 12 Destinations in the U.S. for Family Fun.
USA Today (March 2015) – St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos & Fort Matanzas National Monument on the Top 10 National Monuments in the U.S. list.
Buzzfeed.com (June 2014) – St. Augustine was included in a list of 11 Stunning Small Florida Towns You Need to Visit.
We had an AMAZING experience in St. Augustine! Everywhere you turn, romance is in the air.
Whether dining on fresh seafood, experiencing a tour of history, cuddling up on a horse and carriage ride, or walking along the beach together, St. Augustine and Florida’s Historic Coast is truly made for romance and YOUR love!
Plan a visit to Florida’s Historic Coast and take advantage of special offers and themed packages for visitors to enjoy with romantic escapes and family fun. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaways, accommodations and to plan your vacation in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com or call 1.800.653.2489.
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Disclosure: As the U.S. Hispanic Ambassador for Florida’s Historic Coast, this is sponsored content.
Any opinions stated here are our own.