During our wedding reception, we were invited to go to St. Augustine for a weekend trip with some friends. Yes, I know that's sort of a weird time to invite someone on a trip, but if you knew our friends, you would consider that to be totally normal.
So, about a month after our wedding, we loaded up our car with our weekend bags and headed out to the coast. Yes, that means that we went to St. Augustine in the middle of December. Yes, I know that this is the middle of January. Yes, I know I'm a little behind on posting.
We got a hotel suite with 4 other people and split the cost. Was it cheap? Yes. Was the hotel the nicest place on Earth? No. Was the complimentary breakfast something to write home about? Not even close. But, again, was it cheap? Yes, and that's really all that matters to a bunch of broke college students and a newlywed couple working on paying off debt.
Some of the pros to the hotel we stayed at: It was home to one of the oldest trees in St. Augustine called the Senator. Our friends found it was the perfect spot to have picnic lunches while we were there (we packed as much food as possible to cut down on costs & only ate out 1 night as a group).
The other benefit to having The Senator as your neighbor - it made our hotel one of the stops on the trolley tours. Which meant that we didn't have to pay for parking. Once you purchased a trolley ticket, you could ride it an unlimited amount of times for up to 3 days. Although the hubby & I chose not to take the trolley, our friends did, and they loved it. You get to hear the history of St. Augustine while you ride, and depending on the ticket package you purchase, you also get in to certain attractions for free.
Why didn't the hubby & I ride the trolley? Well, we both chaperoned a field trip last school year to St. Augustine and we had already visited all of the sites the trolley package got you into. We wanted to see other sites in the city. Besides, for the most part we walked everywhere we needed to go - the hotel wasn't all that far from the main shops and attractions of St. Augustine.
The only place we needed our car was to drive over to a nearby island to see the lighthouse. Let me tell you, the drive, admission fee, and climb up the stairs is definitely worth it once you get to the top and get to see St. Augustine from the top of the lighthouse.
The gift shop & entrance to the lighthouse facilities
War Ration Book in the on-site museum
The bottom of the stairs
From the bottom looking up
As you climbed the stairs, there were floors that you could stop on to rest. Some had benches, some had educational stops on their self-guided audio tour. And others had windows that you could look out of to see how high you were getting.
Now, I'm not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling. That may sound silly to some. But when I say I'm afraid of falling, I mean I freak out when the hubby threatens to roll me off the side of a bed or couch. So, sometimes heights will get to me when I think about the fall that could happen if I took one little misstep. So I will admit, it was a little scary to look down once you reached the top, but once you got to see the coast, it was totally worth it. And for any of you afraid of heights, it's completely safe - there are railings the entire way that you hold onto and once you reach the top, there is a volunteer staff member there to keep everyone safe & answer questions.
After the climb, we walked around the grounds a little more before heading back to the main part of St. Augustine.
Our friends decided they didn't want to go to the lighthouse, so the hubby & I enjoyed a little time to ourselves. Really, it seemed like the only time we saw our friends was at night when we all made it back to the hotel. We could never really agree on what to do during the day, so we all went our separate ways. At first I felt bad about it, but the hubby reminded me that we were all getting what we wanted out of the trip, so there was nothing to feel bad about.
One of the places we stopped and walked around was the Mission Nombre de Dios. It was literally blocks from our hotel and on the way to St. George Street. It is home to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. When we visited this place, we really had no idea the special meaning behind it. Just recently Stephanie over at Mama and Baby Love wrote about this place, which is actually what reminded me that I still hadn't posted about our trip.
Here are some more random pictures from our first day in St. Augustine.
This is where we bought my mother-in-law's Christmas gift.
The second day we did a little more walking around the city. Right before lunch we all met up at the Fort and walked around for a little while. Even got to see a canon shot! Then we went to lunch together at Scarlett O'Hara's before going our separate ways one last time and heading home.
The city gates
So, that was our weekend trip to St. Augustine. Even though the hubby & I live about 2 hours away from St. Augustine and there is no direct road connecting the two cities, we used maybe a half a tank all weekend? We only had to drive to one attraction the entire weekend, and the parking at the lighthouse was free. We also made a stop at an amazing chocolate shop (Whetstone, which is totally based out of the St. Augustine area- highly recommend it!) and another stop one day to eat lunch at a fast food place (sorry, I have a weakness for Zaxbys!). Other than that, we parked at the hotel and walked everywhere.
If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting St. Augustine for a weekend. There isn't theme parks or anything like that, but it's one of those cities where you instantly relax when you get there. It's nice to walk around and just soak in all the history the place has to offer.
Anyone else been to St. Augustine? What was your favorite place to visit? I love hearing about others travels - helps me plan my next trip!