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article imageGo south for the winter to St. Augustine, Florida Special

By Kay Mathews     Dec 10, 2014 in Travel
Saint Augustine - Wintertime may be the perfect season for those living in colder climates to head south. A scenic and historic destination worth the trip is St. Augustine. One landmark in America's first city is America's first parish and there are many others to see.
A trip to Florida in the summer guarantees travelers palm trees, time swimming in the ocean, fruity drinks, and almost always sunny skies and warm weather. The latter is, for the most part, true in the winter. Historical monthly average highs for St. Augustine in the months of December, January and February hover around 69° F. The time not spent in the ocean during winter months can be spent touring some amazing historic landmarks like the ones featured below.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine is America’s first parish, founded September 8, 1565. The Cathedral Basilica tells "the story of the establishment of the oldest permanently occupied European settlement in what is now the United States of America, and, at the same time, the beginnings of what would be the Cathedral Parish." The city of St. Augustine was founded and established in 1565 by Don Pedro Menéndez de Aviles, who decided to give that saint’s name to his first settlement.
Located at 38 Cathedral Place in downtown St. Augustine, the exterior of Cathedral Basilica is beautiful, but it is the interior that will take your breath away.
Interior view of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine.  St. Augustine  FL
Interior view of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine. St. Augustine, FL
Interior view of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine.  St. Augustine  FL
Interior view of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine. St. Augustine, FL
Located only two blocks from America's first parish is the Hotel Ponce de Leon, now Flagler College.
Flagler College  once the Hotel Ponce de Leon.  St. Augustine  FL
Flagler College, once the Hotel Ponce de Leon. St. Augustine, FL
The Hotel Ponce de Leon was constructed between 1885 and 1887 by Henry M. Flagler, the hotel and railroad magnate whose activities contributed greatly to the development of Florida’s eastern coastal area. Flagler is described as the "brains behind Standard Oil" and a visionary who "believed that Florida had the potential to attract large numbers of tourists."
Henry M. Flagler statue at Flagler College  once the Hotel Ponce de Leon.  St. Augustine  FL
Henry M. Flagler statue at Flagler College, once the Hotel Ponce de Leon. St. Augustine, FL
"Flagler chose the Spanish Renaissance Revival style so that the hotel's design would compliment its historic surroundings," the National Park Service states. "Retained to decorate the interior of the hotel, Louis C. Tiffany used stained glass, mosaics and terra cotta relief on the walls and ceilings and commissioned several grand murals. The hotel was the first large scale building constructed entirely of poured concrete."
Flagler College  once the Hotel Ponce de Leon.  St. Augustine  FL
Flagler College, once the Hotel Ponce de Leon. St. Augustine, FL
During its hay day, the 540-room hotel, called "the Ponce," entertained celebrities and U.S. Presidents. In 1968 this historic landmark was converted into Flagler College, a private, coeducational, four-year liberal arts institution.
Even if it is too cool to swim in the ocean, a trip to St. Augustine would not be complete without at least viewing the Atlantic Ocean. A drive across the Bridge of Lions will soon get you to St. Augustine Beach.
View of the Bridge of Lions over Matanzas River.  St. Augustine  FL
View of the Bridge of Lions over Matanzas River. St. Augustine, FL
One excellent place to enjoy the ocean view is from the St. John's County Ocean & Fishing Pier.
St. John s County Ocean & Fishing Pier.  St. Augustine Beach  Florida
St. John's County Ocean & Fishing Pier. St. Augustine Beach, Florida
It is no wonder that Don Pedro Menéndez de Aviles came ashore and made St. Augustine his first settlement. Perhaps a wintertime trip to this lovely destination filled with gorgeous historical landmarks should be inked-in now.
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