Anastasia State Park and St. Augustine

St. Augustine is America’s oldest city, officially founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez. We have wanted to visit for a long time and our return from Tampa provided an opportunity.

Anastasia is the third Florida State Park visited on our trip to Tampa and we are big fans of all of them.   Anastasia offers lots of shade and privacy, a very good thing, but it does not facilitate interaction with your neighbors.  We had no neighbors across from us, and thick foliage on both sides.   The sites are on firmly-packed sand and our site, #92, was quite spacious.

With the ample shade and close bathhouse, our setup was minimal.  Also, we wanted to keep it simple as we planned to spend most of our time away from the site.  We had tons of room!   There would be plenty of room for a big rig as well, though the turn off the road is a little tight.

Site # 92
My big guy

We checked out the beach, which is within the park.  It was beautiful, but so windy!  There were 16 mph winds in St. Augustine that day, and I suspect they were a good bit higher on the beach.  There was a boardwalk to the beach, with wetlands on each side.

Boardwalk to the beach
The beach located within the park

It was quite difficult to walk on the beach with the high winds, but this would be a wonderful place on a day with better weather.   I would love to come back in late August or September, after summer crowds diminish.

It was so cold and windy that we decided to build a fire, something we have never done before while camping.   Using wood purchased from the campground store, we had a very nice fire going rather quickly.  Our hot dogs for dinner were cooked over the fire.  After dinner, we sat for a long time just watching the fire and drinking wine.  The night was chilly and the fire was mesmerizing.

Our dinner entertainment

We were up early the next day to see the sights in St. Augustine.  We parked our car at the lighthouse and took the Old Town Trolly Tour bus to the historic district.   It is a pretty small area, but my husband’s knee was not up to a lot of walking, so the trolly was a good option for us.

St. Augustine has many old structures, such as the fortress below.   Castillo De San Marcos is a U.S. National Park and the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.  Constrution began in 1672 and was completed in 1695.  Unfortunately, we did not have time for a tour, but we plan to visit it the next time we are in the city.

Castillo De San Marcos

There are many “firsts” in Saint Augustine.  The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine was America’s first parrish, founded on September8, 1565.

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine’s oldest house is pictured below.  It was built in 1702.

Oldest House in St. Augustine                                                                                                                    

We spent some time at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and drank some of the water.  We surely need it!  It was from the same water source as legend has it that Ponce De Leon drank in his search for the Fountain of Youth.  The water has lots of minerals and a strong sulfur taste.  It was pretty bad, but I am hoping the placebo effect will kick in.

There is a replica of a Timucua Indian village and demonstrations of how they lived.   Timucuas were the indigenous people in St. Augustine during the time that Ponce De Leon was in the area.   The park also provides live canon firings every hour.

Examples of how Timucua Indians lived

The park is beautifully landscaped and filled with peacocks, including albino peacocks like the one below.

Albino peacock
One of many canons in the park

After some educational shows at the Fountain of Youth Park , we had a late lunch at O. C. White’s Seafood and Spirits, which was recommend by a local.  The meal and service were both excellent!

A Trolly bus took us back to the lighthouse and our car.  The lighthouse is on Anastasia Island and quite impressive.  It is 140 feet high with 219 steps to the top.  I am happy to say that I made the climb.  It was not easy, but not too difficult.   It was incredibly windy at the top.   I was told that the winds were over 25 mph.

Stairway to the top
View from the top

It is still a functioning lighthouse and continues to be used for navigation.

The lighthouse at night

The Keeper’s House, built in 1876 was also a part of the tour.  It is a beautiful house with massive live oak trees in the front yard.

The Keeper’s House
Front yard at the Keeper’s House

Time constraints prevented us from doing everything we wanted.  We really needed two full days to see St. Augustine and would also want to some time to spend at the beach if the weather is good.  If we are able to go back to St. Augustine, we want to see the fort, Flagler College, and the Lightner Museum.  There are a lot of touristy places in the city, but the city has a long history and many sites worth seeing.

St. Augustine is an interesting city to visit and Anastasia State Park is an excellent campground.  We highly recommend both!

We have since returned home and are preparing for having family over for Thanksgiving.  We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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