The earliest history museums had little actual history to draw on, and instead padded exhibits with wildly speculative displays about how dinosaurs would be elected to Congress by the year 2000. See how far we've come with today's Groupon: for $10, you get admission for two adults to the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine (up to a $20 value; admission is free for St. Johns County residents with a valid ID showing their address).
The Lightner Museum proudly displays three stories of Victorian antiquities in the 1887-built Alcazar Hotel—an opulent Spanish Renaissance–style building commissioned by Standard Oil–tycoon Henry M. Flagler and designed by famed architects Carrere and Hastings. Guests begin their tour in the magnificently restored lobby, then make their way to the former resort's old health spa, home to what was once reputedly the world’s largest indoor swimming pool. A host of Gilded Age gadgetry and artwork awaits the history-curious, including a blown-glass piston machine, a desk built for Napoleon’s younger brother, and a marble statue of Cleopatra. The Lightner Museum also displays a collection of Louis Tiffany glasswork and a roomful of antique musical instruments, each capable of playing only the theme song to Mork & Mindy.
The Lightner Museum offers a discounted admission to active military members, college students, and children. Be sure to use this Groupon for general adult admission to get the best value.
With an in-depth collection of Victorian-era art and artifacts, Lightner Museum could find no better setting to house its works than the former Alcazar Hotel, built in 1887. Relics cover three floors of the intricately architected building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designed in Spanish-Renaissance style by the visionaries behind the New York Public Library. Inside the magnificent lobby, whitewashed pillars connect high ceilings bordered by intricate plastered molds with amaranthine-hued mosaic floors.
Wander into the Science and Industry room for views of a taxidermied crocodile suspended from the ceiling, mingling among cases filled with statuettes and antique globes. Moving into neighboring galleries, a carved and gilded neoclassical rocking chair and colorful, mosaic-like Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps provide insight into the daily lives of Victorian citizens. Other 19th-century paintings and statues showcase the era's artistic inspiration as well as its curious fashions, such as wearing Santa Claus hats year-round.
75 King St.
St. Augustine, Florida 32084