Europe’s siren song lures vacationers from all over the world. With its bustling cities, pastoral countryside and centuries-old history, it’s easy to see why. The good news is there are plenty of destinations right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. that exude the same old-world charm of some of Europe’s most celebrated cities. One of them was established over 500 years ago by Spanish settlers, and it stands today as the oldest city in the United States. For your next family vacation, St. Augustine, Florida, is more than worth the visit. Check out our top picks for nighttime, family-friendly fun in the Ancient City!
The Ponce de Leon hotel, built by Henry Flagler in 1888, was a true masterpiece that combined luxury and art in one of the most beautiful locations in Florida — St. Augustine. Flagler’s love for art was reflected in every detail, from the carefully selected pieces of art that adorned the halls to the stunning architectural design that included spacious rooms, a courtyard with a fountain and a spectacular dining room. When it opened to the public, the hotel was ahead of its time with electric lighting, fans and elevators — innovations that set the standard for the hotel industry. It was also one of the first buildings in America to have an electric fire alarm system.
Nestled south of downtown St. Augustine on St. Francis Street, the González-Álvarez House, also known as the Oldest House, is a historic marvel blending coquina and wooden architecture, showcasing the city’s evolution. Its first floor, built from local coquina rock, supports an upper level with a clapboarded exterior and a hip roof crowned with wooden shingles. Since 1801, the house has witnessed eight families and multiple periods of alteration, reflecting resilience through different colonial administrations. Beyond its architectural charm lies a haunted history, inviting exploration into ghostly encounters that enrich the González-Álvarez House’s tapestry of time.
The Ximenez-Fatio House is a historic home located at 20 Aviles St. in St. Augustine, Florida. Built in 1798 by Spanish merchant Andres Ximenez, this house has stood the test of time and still retains its original charm and character. Today, the Ximenez-Fatio House has been transformed into a museum, showcasing the history and heritage of St. Augustine and its early settlers. It is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a Florida Heritage Site.
Florida’s St. Augustine is ‘the nation’s oldest city.’ The city itself dates all the way back to 1565. There are stretches of beautiful beaches, restaurants, outdoor experiences, history as far as the eye can see and a famous Inn that continues to tell the city’s history through its apparitions. Part of the city’s centuries old-history is their ghoulish and ghostly hauntings. Some head to this northern Floridian city for beaches and flip-flop filled vacations while others come for the peculiar, the possible and the paranormal activities.
As the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is known for its ancient architecture, rich heritage and pristine beaches. With more than four centuries of history, it’s no surprise that this beautiful coastal town also has its share of haunted tales. When touring the Old Jail, wandering around the Flagler College campus and exploring the quaint streets, remember that you may not be alone.
Take your seat aboard the Trolley of the Doomed and be ready to be afraid… very afraid. St. Augustine’s most frightening Ghost Tour is very popular during the ghoulish holiday so make your reservations well in advance for St. Augustine Halloween. Read on for more events.