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Baby Boomers
By Brian Powell
By The Affluent Traveler
By The Affluent Traveler | 07/19/2011
By Margie Goldsmith | 07/19/2011
By Christel Snider | 04/29/2011
By Matthew Schroeder | 04/28/2011
By Christine Thurlow | 04/28/2011
By Nicole Mazza
By Simon Baker | 03/23/2011
By Matthew Schroeder | 03/23/2011
By Lindsay Blumenthal | 03/22/2011
By Nancy Bolle | 03/22/2011
By Kathy Bunbury | 03/22/2011
By Andrew Wainer | 03/22/2011
By Cathie Lewis-Hardy | 03/22/2011
By Julie Vecchione DeSimone | 03/21/2011
By Marissa Candela | 03/21/2011
By Matthew Schroeder | 03/17/2011
By Malia Vrooman | 04/20/2011
By Lynne R. Christen | 03/16/2011
By Cathie Lewis-Hardy | 03/15/2011
By Alex Martin | 03/14/2011
By Kristin Lasater | 03/14/2011
By Kathleen Korman | 03/11/2011
By Sharin Hearin | 03/10/2011
By Diana Koch | 03/10/2011
04/06/2011
By Malia Vrooman | 04/20/2011
By Lori Harris | 04/10/2009
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Travel Buzz
Enjoy Authentic St. Augustine
By Lynne R. Christen

I came to St. Augustine in sunny Florida for an authentic weekend getaway; away from big city clamor and cookie-cutter condos lining overdeveloped and overcrowded beaches. Thanks to the foresight of city leaders, St. Augustine meticulously protects and preserves its 85 historic venues and barrier island ecosystem. I was not disappointed.

STAYING & PLAYING IN ST. AUGUSTINE

Briefly deliberating between an ocean-side stay versus the city, I opted for “sense of place” bed and breakfast accommodations at the Inn on Charlotte, one of St. Augustine’s Historic Inns of Elegance. Built in 1918 and lovingly restored in 2003, the laidback luxury, romantic ambience and warm hospitality of innkeeper Lynne Fairfield made it tempting to snuggle into the “Henry Flagler Suite” with its sumptuous poster bed, jacuzzi for two and private porch and escape the outside world. However, history drew me to St. Augustine and with only a weekend to explore its Old World charm, there was no time to waste. A bountiful breakfast at the Inn and sound sightseeing advice sent me on my way each day, and afternoon wine and snacks were welcome late afternoon treats. Narrated open-air trolley tours offer an inexpensive and flexible way to see the city. Tickets for Old Town Trolley Tours and Ripley’s Sightseeing Trains feature three consecutive days of hop-on, hop-off privileges at 20 major attractions.

I initially stayed put for the entire 90-minute tour circuit to get the lay of the land. Then, I used my same ticket for two days to travel between must-sees. For instance, hop off for a tour at Flagler College (formerly the opulent Ponce de Leon Hotel) and Lightner Museum (Flagler’s Hotel Alcazar). Hop on the next trolley rolling by to continue sightseeing at the Oldest House Museum, Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, Oldest Drug Store Museum and Old Jail. Listen to echoes of past with a guided tour by the National Park Service at the remarkable four-pointed Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest remaining European fort in the U.S. Meander through the Colonial Spanish Quarter for a glimpse of 1740s life in  St. Augustine.

Gawk at 800 oddities at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. Stroll lush gardens around the monument marking Ponce de Leon’s landing site and drink from the natural spring at Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. I sipped...and sipped again... even brought home a bottle of the “youth-enhancing” waters. No harm in trying. Across the Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum stand guard over miles of unspoiled beaches on Anastasia Island. The view is worth the 219-steps to the top. Ecotourism flourishes on this barrier island. Active types enjoy surfing, parasailing, kite-boarding and kayaking. And, St. Augustine Alligator Farm is the world’s only home of every species of crocodilian. Back on the mainland, there’s a mecca for duffers.  Avid golfers can stay at the Renaissance Resort or Grande Villas at World Golf Village, tee off on championship greens like “The Slammer & Squire” and “The King & Bear” and enjoy the 70 exhibits/artifacts and interactive state-of-the art golf technology at the Golf Hall of Fame.

TASTES OF ST. AUGUSTINE

Savor fresh seafood from local waters. Dig into a basket of tender, fried gator tail or frog-legs. Head for the 100-year old Columbia Restaurant for the best Spanish/Cuban fare.  Rekindle romance at the Raintree Restaurant. As a travel foodie, I was especially  delighted to discover Bistro de Leon, one of the city’s newest international dining venues.  Under the culinary artistry of Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard and wine savoir-faire of his charming wife, Valerie, Bistro de Leon specializes in la cuisine de meres, (French home cuisine). Linger over a steaming platter of Bouillabaisse and raise a toast with a “pot” of house wine served in a special carafe from the Poinard’s hometown of Lyon, France. Don’t be surprised to hear the chef singing in the kitchen...Bistro de Leon is all about joie de vivre for the palate and the soul.

THE SPIRITED SIDE OF THE CITY

When the moon rises, sample the spooky side of St. Augustine, if you dare. Ranked as one of America’s most haunted cities, a host of ghost tours introduce intrepid travelers to legendary haunts. Armed with a loaned electromagnetic field meter to monitor paranormal levels, I joined the ominous black Ghost Train on a quest for local ghosts seeking unrequited love or revenge. There were plenty of entertaining and spine-tingling tales, but no ghost sightings this trip. Time ran out long before my St. Augustine must-do list was complete. No doubt, I’ll return for more living history lessons, a treasure quest in five diverse art districts and for another sip at the Fountain of Youth. A summer escape sounds good or a visit during the annual Nights of Lights. St. Augustine comes alive with millions of magical white lights and holiday special events from November 22 through January 31st.

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