Serene St. Augustine

photoST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — For being 450-years-old, St. Augustine sure has aged well.

It is draped in Spanish moss and immersed in European and American history. Explorer Ponce de Leon landed here. Martin Luther King championed civil rights here, and U.S. industrialist Henry Flagler built a university here.

That rich heritage blends with a chill arts and music scene that keeps the city young.

The trolley will take you to nearly every point of interest, and what it can’t reach, the Beach Bus can.

Across the Bridge of Lions is the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The 219 steps to the top afford you a killer workout and a spectacular view.

Just off King Street in the park is where white ruffians pummeled black activist Andrew Young a half-century ago. Nearby is a former Woolworth’s, where black students staged a sit-in at a lunch counter in 1960.

Ponce de Leon has his Fountain of Youth historic site. But also worth seeing is the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, which was built by Flagler, who converted it into a college bearing his name.

High humidity is a Florida calling card. So if you get steamed, drop by the St. Augustine distillery, which will raise your spirits with several free cocktails at the tour’s conclusion.

For eats, try Gas, a former service station. The atmosphere is no-frills but the fare is down-home good. The missus raved about the swordfish. I had the bone-in pork chop with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, and was glad I did.

Mary’s Harbor View Restaurant is ideal for breakfast.

Mary will recommend the biscuits. Heed her word.

These three-finger-thick delights are so soft they fall apart in your hands. Tasty with strawberry jam, they are best when smothered in gravy and bits of Jimmy Dean sausage.

 

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