St. Augustine holds the title of “America’s Oldest City,” and its historic downtown district arguably holds more history than any other in the United States. Founded by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in America that was settled first by Europeans. The multicultural city has centuries of stories built into its streets and walls. A stroll through the downtown unfolds influence by the Spanish and English, as well as Native Americans, African Americans, and even Greeks.
The heart of the area is St George’s Street, a pedestrian-only promenade lined with historic architecture and specialty shops, galleries, and restaurants. Parts of the historic downtown have been preserved as living museums, some with artifacts dating back to the 1500s. Don’t miss the “Fountain of Youth,” a monument dedicated to Juan Ponce de Leon (who claimed Florida for Spain in 1513.) The old schoolhouse, old jail, colonial Spanish Quarter, and Castillo de San Marcos all offer a glimpse into the past.
Downtown St Augustine is pedestrian-friendly and most of the historic sights can be seen on foot. Many of the streets are narrow and designed for foot traffic as opposed to cars, so parking in the historic area itself can be a challenge — though some public lots are available.