Discover St. Augustine's Old-World Charm
At the same time that my fellow Lost Girls and I uprooted our NYC lives to take a yearlong trip around the world, my parents decided to retire to St. Augustine, FL. Although it was sad to lose my childhood home, after living out of a backpack for 365 days with my 2 best friends, I discovered that I could carve out my own sense of home almost anywhere. Even in the most unlikely of places, like our volunteer hut in Kenya or the camper van that we drove up Australia’s east coast.
And after numerous trips to St Augustine (including a few, month-long sabbaticals to pen The Lost Girls book), the city truly feels like home -- so much so that my now-husband, Kevin, and I just got married there in June, which afforded us the unique opportunity to experience the town as tourists alongside our closest family and friends.
As the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is rich on history, culture and old-world charm. With top tourist attractions like Flagler College, Fort Matanzas and the Fountain of Youth, coupled with pristine beaches, world-class golf courses and innumerable art galleries, restaurants and shops, this is one city worth exploring.
To help inspire your trip, here are my top St. Augustine picks:
Start your morning with an espresso and homemade pastry under a canopy of clouds at the property’s sidewalk café, and then peruse the 2 adjoining art galleries, featuring renowned collections of paintings, sculptures and jewelry. When night falls, delight in one of acclaimed chef Harlan Walden’s internationally-inspired dishes -- like the Kessler signature calamari or Bahamian lobster tail with crab risotto -- at the opulent 95 Cordova restaurant. Then retire to the glamorous Cobalt Lounge to mix and mingle with a stylish crowd, while sipping top-shelf martinis and swaying to the silky beats of top local jazz bands. No matter how you choose to indulge, rest assured that you’ll be treated like royalty.
Renowned for its enticing fusion of Spanish and Cuban cuisines, this downtown hot spot lures guests with its award-winning Original “1905” Salad, paella a la Valenciana, authentic flan and overflowing pitchers of sangrias, including one specialty recipe infused with Torres brandy, Torres orange liqueur and sparkling Cristalino Spanish cava. Whether you’re popping in for tapas and a glass of private label wine, lingering over a café con leche after a languid 3-course meal, or celebrating with a large party in the property’s newly designed sky-lit courtyard, the Columbia is sure the charm you.
3. Where to Sip
In addition to a robust menu of libations, Meehan’s also boasts a diverse selection of traditional Irish pub fare like corned beef and cabbage, and shepherd’s pie along with regional seafood favorites and signature dishes like mahi-mahi and the Galway seafood medley. Top all this off with an eclectic lineup of live music 4 nights a week, and you very well may want to set up camp at Meehan’s for the duration of your St. Augustine stay --as my wedding guests can certainly attest!