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Drive I-95

 

St. Augustine -- Her Favorite Florida City

Natalia de Cuba Romero is a freelance writer who has been based in Puerto Rico, Florida and New York. Her work has appeared in Caribbean Travel & Life, Latitudes, National Parks and other publications. Natalia definitely knows her "sun destinations" very well. She recently wrote to us about one of her favorites.


For this Orlando-based travel writer, there is nowhere in Florida I'd rather go for a quick getaway -- be it with my husband, my best girlfriends, my mom or on my very own -- than the oldest city in the continental United States, the historical yet small hip city of St. Augustine.

I adore this little place...

It has everything for a meaty holiday that fulfills your educational, entertainment and relaxation needs. St. Augustine has a beautifully preserved town center with buildings dating back to the early 1500s, craft stores, restaurants ranging from serviceable to upscale elegant, a location by the sea, a glorious lighthouse with a spectacular view, a barrier island for beach lounging, a winery, a microbrewery and more than 20 charming B&Bs.

Explore the city's Spanish roots...

Established in 1565 by Spanish colonialists, St. Augustine was taken over by the British under the treaty of Paris in 1763. After 20 years the Spanish got it back and the city retains a distinctly Iberic flair. Descendants of the original Spanish settlers still live and work in the city. With historic centers like the Spanish Quarter Village where real blacksmiths pound iron into the authentic nails used in the city's restoration, to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in America, to old restored St. Augustine Village -- this city and its residents celebrate the past with great cheer.

JourneyWomen can expect excellent in-town transportation -- in fact, local trolleys will pick you up and drop you off at locations all over town for one payment per day. With St. Augustine's pedestrian streets and friendly services, Senior JourneyWomen and their friends and daughters will find it the perfect backdrop for a memorable Girls-Only trip.


Bed and breakfasts I know and love...

One of my favourite guesthouses is Carriage Way, run by the father and son team of Bill and Larry Johnson. This B&B was voted one of the three "Best Bed and Breakfasts in Florida 2001" by Florida Monthly. Located at 70 Cuna Street in the historic zone, the 1883 inn includes many bathrooms with footed tubs, four-poster beds and cut glass bottles of sherry with thimble-sized glasses in every room. Bill tells us that because of the many single women travelling together, they have rooms available with two double beds, so you can share a room without having to share a bed.

Larry does all the cooking -- his hearty quiches and blueberry French toast are absolutely delicious. Vegetarians can let him know about food preferences ahead of time and he will try to accommodate your needs. The Johnsons also have an 1885 cottage available that sleeps six and includes a fridge and a microwave. Rates for double occupancy range from $85-$190. (Carriage Way, 904-829-2467) Website: www.carriageway.com.

P.S. Dining out in town? While St. Augustine is pretty safe and quiet for walking home after dinner, these gentlemen can make arrangements to walk you home if you like. How's that for female-friendliness?

Casa de Solana is another wonderful B&B in a house built by Manuel Solana -- one of the ancestors of the oldest family in St. Augustine. Each day they host an Evening Social Hour (5:30-6:30pm daily), allowing a delightful opportunity to meet other guests and share stories about your visit, over a glass of wine or beer and a great selection of tasty treats. Perfect for the solo Journeywoman! Website: www.casadesolana.com.

Ready for a big splurge? The Casa Monica Hotel is much more upscale -- listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and recipient of the much coveted AAA Four-Diamond Award. Built in 1888, this 135-room hotel has recently been restored to it's original Moroccan-style glory and is located on the main square at Cordova Street. There is much more information about their accommodations (no two rooms are alike) at their website: www.casamonica.com.


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