Living in Central Florida provides the perfect opportunity to explore most of the state even if you only have the time and money for a day trip.
This past week, my husband had taken a day off of work for plans that fell through, so we made a last minute decision to make a day trip to St. Augustine in Northeast Florida. St. Augustine has the distinction of being the US’s oldest continuously inhabited European settlement, having been founded in 1565. It had previously been under both Spanish and British rule, before the foundation of the United States and as you wander the charming, colonial era streets you will notice that much of the old town has beautiful Spanish inspired architecture.
There is an eclectic mix of tourist trap shops, artisans and dining options as well as museums, in the Historic Old Town area and it really is the perfect place to get out and stroll. We always have to have a popsicle or two from the Hyppo, who makes their pops using fresh fruit, so tasty and refreshing on a hot summer (technically fall) day. This trip we also tried a relatively new restaurant, Prohibition Kitchen, it was pricey for lunch but had really good burgers and we loved the atmosphere.
After walking around the Old Town, we decided to stop at San Sebastian Winery for a free tour and wine tasting, before heading home. San Sebastian winery is only a short distance from the historic Old Town area of St. Augustine and they have some really delicious, sweet muscadine grape wines. If you have time you could also stop at the nearby St. Augustine Distillery for a complimentary tour and tasting and stick around for cocktails and dinner at the adjacent Ice Plant bar, which from previous experience is very good.
I have only scratched the surface of St. Augustine as this was a rushed trip, if you have more time, you can visit the beach, the lighthouse, take a tour of Castillo de San Marcos (the oldest masonry fort in the continental US,) stay the night and take a ghost tour, shop till you drop at the outlet malls or visit one of the nearby state parks. Because we had to get back we chose to have dinner on the road, which turned out to be a great idea!
We usually stick to I-4 and I-95 when visiting St. Augustine from our home and the traffic coming through Orlando can be a nightmare…. For this trip home we decided to stay off the interstate as much as possible, this led to us passing through Deland on Highway 44. Using my trusty friend Yelp, I found a great little restaurant offering German food that was only slightly out of our way, Emmy’s Time Out Tavern. It was a good indication when we pulled up to a full parking lot, the food was great and plentiful, the atmosphere somewhat kitschy in that charming way small town restaurants can be. The proprietor, Emmy was the icing in the cake, such a nice lady! It pays to get off the interstate, see more of small town Florida and find great little places like this. We find ourselves doing this type of traveling more often. It was a great ending to a wonderful day trip.
*Links to a few of the places I have mentioned in this post.