It seems that not a year can go by without a quick jaunt to America’s oldest city by the sea, St. Augustine, Florida. Also known as the most haunted city, most historic, really cool place..and the list goes on. This year I returned to my fave place with my daughter and took a tour. School trips are not my thing- charter buses filled with noisy kiddies and endless stream of bathroom breaks- arghh- enough to send a gal running to a cave for solitude. But this year, the usual stressed out event took a turn for the better, and I must admit, I was secretly impressed. The wise group of school teachers turned their field trip over to a tour company, thus eliminating the usual stresses, short on time run through the ancient city.
Our tour guide from Ancient City Tours, a British carpenter with kids of his own, met our bus and led us on a fact and fun filled day, complete with picnic lunch at the Tour Headquarters, The Love Tree Cottage (adjacent to a very haunted cemetery). Our guide (Lee) kept the pace rolling and kept the children engaged with facts that only one with kids can truly understand- weapons, battles, pirates- you name it. A tour of the Castillo de San Marcos, an explanation of the different types of cannons, and later a highly involved discussion on old medicine using a student in lieu of a wounded soldier that my daughter can recite word for word. The ride on the red train, an open air tourist train the travels the streets of St. Augustine on a guided tour of the historic spots, was a welcome respite for the flagging students in the Florida heat. Our final stop took us to the Old Florida Museum- also known as Fort Menendez. Recently renovated, the Old Florida Museum is worth the visit, with a Timucuan Indian Settlement, A Spanish Ship, Archeologicial dig, Cracker Pioneer settlement and Spanish Settlement. All hands on for the kids to go wild- learn by doing. Our group took part in an Indian tribal meeting and then dug out a canoe, did a spot of gardening and ground corn into corn meal.
The kids were still noisy, but happily so on the way back home, but I noticed the adults were far less stressed. I highly recommend using a tour guide for a large group to take the strain off (plus the lunch of ham and cheese sub was far superior to the usual school PB&J fare). Then you too can enjoy the trip! Check out Ancient City Tours at www.ancientcitytours.com and The Old Florida Museum at www.fortmenendez.com for your next trip to St. Augustine.
St. Augustine is filled to the brim with exciting tours and spots, from sandy beaches, light house climbs to ghost tours and pub crawls, so it may take a lifetime to roam through them all!