St. Augustine (45 minutes S of Downtown), Jacksonville
Located a short 45 minute drive south of Downtown Jacksonville, the historic city of St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. It was founded by the Spanish in 1565, 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
Attractions are diverse and plentiful in this European looking village, including forts, historic sites, living history museums, animal parks, sightseeing tours, ghost tours, specialty museums and areas for recreation and amusement. In fact, here it's common to see authentically clothed soldiers and craftsmen walking around town, particularly at the Colonial Spanish Quarter and at the Castillo de San Marcos, where if you're lucky you'll see (and hear) a cannon firing demonstration. The historic district is a walkable area of several square blocks featuring a vast array of attractions, shops, art galleries, restaurants, bed & breakfasts and hotels within a short distance from one another. St. George Street, a pedestrian-only corridor located right in the center of the historic district, is where most of the city's visitors congregate to eat and shop. While St. George may be the only pedestrian-only corridor, numerous other surrounding streets also offer a variety of unique shops, restaurants and galleries from which to choose. In fact, two main entry corridors, King St. and San Marco Ave., are known for having large concentrations of art galleries and antiques shops respectively.
St. Augustine, located about 40 miles south of Downtown, and the pirate town of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, located about the same distance north of Downtown, serve as charming geographical bookends to the volumes of unique experiences visitors will enjoy when visiting Jacksonville.
St. Augustine, FL. Just up the I-95 you'll find the oldest buildings in the United States. St. Augustine was the first permanent U.S. settlement and you can tour the remaining structures that have survived through the years. You can also visit the beautiful St. Augustine Lighthouse in the area.