St. Augustine: Where History and Hospitality Meet

Imagine, for a moment, a land where you can step back into time; where explorers roamed and legends began. Welcome to St. Augustine, Florida: the oldest European settlement in the United States. Over the centuries, many countries have fought over this city, each leaving their unique mark and story. The city offers a glance through time as a popular tourist spot today. So let’s go exploring. The settlement of St. Augustine was established by the Spanish in 1565, forty years before the English colony of Jamestown. It was settled to stop the French from moving into the area and to help secure the sea for Spanish fleets.
Both the French and English attacked and destroyed St. Augustine multiple times in its early history. This led to the creation of the fort Castillo de San Marcos in 1672. The industrious builders used a mortar made of ancient shells called coquina. This interesting mix made the fort strong and fireproof, keeping it from falling into enemy hands. Castillo de San Marcos took 23 years to build and still stands today as the oldest fortification in the U.S., and lives as a testament to the strength and creativity of those who built it.
During this time of conflict, the Spanish would offer freedom to any slave who escaped from the British. These slaves had to convert to Catholicism and join the local militia, but they were free. This became the first legally recognized community of ex-slaves in the New World. Imagine what it would be like to roam along the St. Augustine beaches knowing you’d never be deprived of your liberty again. At the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, Florida fell into British hands and most of the Spanish residents in St. Augustine evacuated to Cuba. It would have been a difficult decision to leave such a beautiful home, uncertain of the future. During the American Revolutionary War, Florida supported the British crown. Castillo de San Marcos was used as a British stronghold to house prisoners of war, including several signers of the Declaration of Independence. When you visit the Fort, try to picture what it would have been like for those distinguished men to be held captive. One of their most notable achievements was to sign a declaration proclaiming the right to freedom, and here they were, locked in a prison only inches from a beautiful liberty. The Spanish controlled Florida until 1821 when the Adams-Onis Treaty sold Florida to the United States for the sum of $5 million. Florida remained a territory until it gained statehood in 1845. During the American Civil War, Florida sided with the Confederates. However, St. Augustine was captured by Union forces in 1862 and spent the rest of the war under Union control. It was an important area to hold with its fort and access to the sea. After the Civil War, St. Augustine fell into economic hard times. It wasn’t until a man named Henry Flagler stopped in the city that St. Augustine’s fortunes changed. Flagler was one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company and had become quite wealthy. While travelling, he came across St. Augustine and finding the climate to be pleasant, he decided to make the city a popular tourist destination for the wealthy Northerners. He bought up railroads in Florida and built large hotels to attract visitors. He is considered to be the driving force behind the east coast of Florida becoming the tourist attraction it is today.
Today, St. Augustine attracts millions of visitors every year from all over the globe with that same tourist drive Flagler started over a century ago. People come for the history, the varied architecture, and for the temperate year-round weather (It also helps that the Fountain of Youth is nearby). Because of this massive influx of tourists, the hospitality industry in the area has boomed. The city is home to over 30 Bed and Breakfasts along with 12 RV Parks and Campgrounds; well over the average for a city of less than 14,000 residents. To help boost these local businesses, a Bed and Breakfast Association named the St. Augustine Historic Inns, was formed. The city of St. Augustine stands unique in American history. It was the birthplace of European settlement in the United States and helped to establish Florida into the state it is today. The people in the city have a lot of history to look back on, but also a lot to look forward to.
About the Association The St. Augustine Historic Inns (SAHI) was created in 1987 as a way to learn and share ideas between local Bed and Breakfasts. There are 26 members of the group and they hold many events throughout the year to attract guests. One of the more popular events is the Holiday Tour of Inns. This yearly activity showcases the city’s historic inns trimmed with Christmas lights and provides guests with good food and great company. The association believes it’s important to gather people with the same interest to help each other grow.
Bed and Breakfasts in St. Augustine Ancient City Inn
At Journey’s End*
Bayfront Marin House*
Bayfront Westcott House B&B*
Beachfront Bed and Breakfast
Bella Bay Historic Bayfront Inn*
Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast*
CasaBlanca Inn on the Bay*
Casa de Solana*
Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast*
Castle Garden*
Cedar House Inn*
Centennial House Bed and Breakfast Inn*
Hemingway House Bed and Breakfast*
House of Sea and Sun
Inn on Charlotte*
Kenwood Inn*
Old City House Inn & Restaurant*
Old Powder House Inn Bed and Breakfast*
Peace and Plenty Inn*
Penny Farthing Inn*
Pirate Haus Inn
Saragossa Inn*
Southern Wind Bed and Breakfast*
St. Francis Inn*
St. George Inn
The Agustin Inn Bed and Breakfast*
The Collector Luxury Inn and Gardens*
The Inn at Camachee Harbor
The Saint Augustine Beach House
Victorian House*
44 Spanish Street Inn*
63 Orange Street Bed and Breakfast Inn*
*Members of SAHI RV Parks and Campgrounds Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort
Compass RV Park
Cooksey’s RV Park
North Beach Camp Resort
Ocean Grove Camp Resort
Pellicer Creek Campground
PepperTree RV Resort
Shamrock Campgrounds
StageCoach RV Park
St Augustine Beach KOA
St. Augustine RV Park
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