Hotel at a Glance: Bella Bay Inn
Visitors will have no shortage of things to do while staying at Bella Bay Inn. This vintage building sits in a lively sector of Saint Augustine’s historic district—which stands as the oldest, continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. Guests staying in any of the inn’s five suites can walk to many of the nearby historic attractions, or maybe find something modern in a nearby art gallery.
- Room with a view: All suites look out onto the bay.
- Forget your toothbrush?: Ring up the inn’s concierge, which stays open 24 hours a day.
- Nearby dining: St. Augustine and its surrounding areas have more than 150 restaurants, so you can dine on everything from a casual shrimp cocktail to gourmet meals.
- Must-see attraction: Castillo De San Marcos, a historic fort that dates back to October 2, 1672
- Go shopping in the town’s more than 20 art galleries and 25 antique stores.
- Beachfront activities: Swim, surf, and search for shells along Saint Augustine’s 43 miles of warm sands.
St. Augustine, FL: Spanish Colonial Town Steeped in the Legend of the Fountain of Youth
Legend has it that explorer Ponce de Leon—and many of his peers—searched the world over for the Fountain of Youth. Eventually, though, de Leon stumbled upon a clear, bubbling spring in what is today Florida, and he christened it as the coveted fountain. Spanish settlers populated the surrounding area shortly thereafter in 1565, making St. Augustine America’s oldest European settlement.
Visitors can still see the “fountain of youth” on a tour of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, which also features re-created 16th-century missions and villages. In St. Augustine’s Old Town district, you can board a sightseeing trolley that makes its way down cobblestone streets past centuries-old jails, the oldest wooden schoolhouse, and the colonial mansions of the Spanish Quarter.
It’s worth it to hop off the trolley to explore some of St. Augustine’s family-friendly stops, including St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. Lightner Museum spotlights a quirky collection of Tiffany lamps, Victorian costumes, and Neoclassical iPods. Historic buildings are set amid St. Augustine’s moss-draped oaks and at Fort Mose State Park, where costumed performers depict life in colonial times