Christmas in the Nation’s Oldest City

I promised a post about our trip to St. Augustine and I really want to share this with you before Christmas. St. Augustine is a city in Northeast Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. It was established in 1565.

I know there is dust on European book shelves older than that, but that’s old for North America. When you think of Florida, which really didn’t boom until the 1950s, it’s really historic.

When we first arrived in St. Augustine, it was daylight and the entire city was decorated with Christmas charm, including Casa Monica, our downtown hotel in the historic district. Being the old fogies that we are, we took a quick look around and then flopped in the plush bed to read and nap.

Casa Monica

When we awoke it was nighttime, and the city was festively lit up for the Holiday. Our first order of business was the trolley ride around town to see the lights.


The town square was lit up as bright as day.

One of the most delightful things to see were the quaint Bed and Breakfasts all decorated in the Christmas spirit. There were Santas and elves, snowmen and princesses, we even saw a Christmas Elvis. Although the light display was a little underwhelming after visiting Disney’s show, the charm of the historic city really shined through in the garlands and wreaths on display. It was all picturesque, but sometimes a little difficult to see from the back of a trolley.


 After the trolley ride, there were sugar cookies and hot apple cider for all of us tourists, then it was off to the Christmas Regatta. If you have never seen a boat display of Christmas lights you should put that on your bucket list. These pictures don’t do it justice. The lights sparkle down reflecting across the water and shine brightly into the night sky. The boat parade made me think of Santa’s sleigh. Boats appear beneath the Bridge of Lions over the ICW Matanzas River and make their way in front of the crowd along the city walls.

We missed our dinner reservation due to the long line waiting on the trolley, but ventured north up San Marcos to La Pavillon for fine European dining in a Victorian home. The RS selected a seafood and pasta dish.

I had the rack of lamb and it was scrumptious.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 026

Then it was back to the hotel to read ghost stories….oooo. An added treat was waking up and getting to see the Huguenot Cemetery near the oldest wooden schoolhouse. I don’t know why, but old cemeteries fascinate me. Part of my fascination with them might be seeing how young people were at time of death. Mosquito borne disease, childbirth, and influenza killed so many back then. There’s a huge cemetery in Key West and the eldest person buried there was thirty-seven at time of death.

It was also kinda creepy to see the mannequins in the old schoolhouse. Some of the other historic houses were a little brighter.

A short walk took us to the fort on the Matanzas River, The Castillo de San Marcos.


This was right up the RS’s alley. I was fascinated by some of the history and the architecture.

The RS was intrigued by its strategic location, just in front of the Atlantic Ocean inlet, the weaponry and costumes on display.

I’ll leave you with one last cheerful photo. Every town should have a store like this:

St Augustine and Flager Beach 021


33 thoughts on “Christmas in the Nation’s Oldest City

  1. That white Bed & Breakfast with the lights is just gorgeous. As for the cemetery with the oldest person being 37, how sad. Makes me grateful for growing up in the age of antibiotics!

    Merry Christmas!!

    1. AND immunizations. I’m so very distraught that my daughter refuses to have our grandchildren immunized. We live in a part of the country that just incubates bad things.

      I wanted to stay in a nice little B&B while we visited, but they were all booked up. Another time 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!

      1. Oh, yes, definitely the immunizations. When you see children with severe bacterial meningitis that leaves them with hearing loss or other neurological sequelae or a child die from chicken pox, you become a firm believer in them. And to think now we even have one to help prevent cancer (HPV vaccine). Pretty amazing!

  2. I visited St Augustine as a child of 9 or 10 and the schoolhouse is what I remembered. When my twins were under a year old we went there for a weekend trip and back to the schoolhouse I went! I have no idea why that schoolhouse fasinates me. Great pictures!

  3. Great photos, Susan! I’ve been to St. Augustine once … can’t you believe that … after living here for almost 25 years! I don’t remember where we stayed, but I do remember the fort, walking around and checking out the shops and museums, and the Alligator Farm 🙂 The farm was interesting, but I did hate to see the gators all piled up in one small pool while people taunted them. (I had to restrain a deep desire to toss one particular teen-age boy over the bridge.) Still, I’d go ahead 😉

    1. We missed the gator farm…saw it on the map though…maybe another time. I hate to see wild animals on display though. It breaks my heart. I feel lousy and guilty at Sea World even.

      1. I have a love-hate relationship with zoos and the like. On the one hand, it is a way for people to become educated and informed. But, on the other … I know I wouldn’t like spending the rest of my life in confinement.

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