Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June Trip - Day 2 ~ St. Augustine & Daytona Beach

On Saturday, we got up from our hotel and got back on the road!  I-95 to be exact.  We were headed toward St. Augustine Florida.

When I was a little girl, I had visited St. Augustine and remembered all of the colonial Spanish influences.  I also remembered how I was so fascinated by all the old military forts and houses.

When we arrived in St. Augustine it was around 11 and the historic district was hopping.  We had decided to eat at a place called The Floridian.  It had no parking, so we circled around looking for a place to park.  There was a lot near the Floridian door that offered parking for $10, but there seemed to be many public parking spaces, so we thought we'd try our luck finding one of those.  Next to the Fort, a National Historic Monument, there was a nice parking lot, pay to park $3 per hour.  Unfortunately the spaces were all occupied, so we ended up paying $10 to park for unlimted hours at the lot next to the Cathedral Basilica de St. Augustine.

The Cathedral was on our 'want to do' list anyway, so we headed there first.  They were having a special mass that Sunday, where they walk around the city blessing special places in the city.  So cool, but it meant that mass was extra long that day.  We were allowed to go inside and look around while the priest and parishioners were across the street blessing the site of the first Mass ever held in America.
So beautiful!

Mary Lynn lit her first candle in prayer:

When the parishioners returned we exited out a side door and continued on toward lunch.  We passed many interesting things along the way:

Even though it's off the beaten path, when we arrived at The Floridian, we were told there would be a 30 minute wait.
We decided to check out the cemetery down the street.  It wasn't open, but we were still able to read the signs.  It was super interesting to read about the Native American history in the area.

Finally our table was ready!  It was a wonderful table too!  And lunch was fabulous!  Almost all natural, we really enjoyed it.

Now we were ready to check out the highlight of St. Augustine - Castillo de San Marcos.  We stopped by the old city gates on the way:

And saw the oldest wooden school building in the US.
I have to say, St. Augustine is way more touristy than I remembered.  Outside of the Castillo, it felt less historic and more commercialized.

Castillo de San Marcos:

It was $7 per adult to enter the site and once we were inside, they gave us this fantastic scavenger hunt type activity book for the kids to complete.  If they completed a certain portion, they got a park ranger badge.  If they completed the entire book they received a badge and a patch.

My kids were pumped!  I mean, really.  What's better than a badge or a patch?

We went up to the gun deck to see the (hourly) cannon firing demonstration, but at the last minute ML chickened out (we were warned it would be really loud) and we went downstairs to the courtyard.  Good thing too - it was SO loud even in the courtyard!  I can't imagine being inside the Castillo when it was under attack all those centuries ago!

After the cannon firing, we quickly turned in our activity books, got our badges and patches and headed out toward our next destination.

I had always wanted to drive on the beach at Daytona, so we headed that way down 95.  We arrived in Daytona around dinnertime, only to discover the beach was closed for high tide.  :-(  We were down there anyway, so we stopped for dinner at Joe's Crab Shack down on the pier.

While Big Daddy was waiting to pay the bill, I walked the kids down to put their feet in the Ocean.  As far as I can remember, this was their first time putting their feet into the (non Gulf) Atlantic stateside.

After dinner, the beach was still closed for high tide (it closed at 7 anyway) so we headed down the road toward our next destination: Ft. Lauderdale!