St. Augustine is a unique celebration of an extraordinary past. Tidewaters provide a sheltered harbor two miles from sandy beaches by the Atlantic Ocean. Ponce de Leon landed here in 1513 in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth. He didn’t find it. But, as the first European on the North American mainland, he claimed the continent for Spain. The town was established in 1565, making it the oldest permanent European settlement in America. More than three centuries of cultural upheavals passed before Henry Flagler provided a railway link and developed lavish resorts here in the 1880s.
Today, monumental and intimate buildings from various eras are shaded by towering palms and moss-draped hardwoods. Flowers accent narrow streets lined with one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, bars, museums, and romantic inns. Dramatic statues punctuate the main plaza. Just beyond on the unspoiled bayfront, cruise boats and horse-drawn carriages await sightseers, as they have for well over a century.