Monday dawned sunny and clear, providing us with a great day to do a walking tour of old St Augustine. We started at the southern end, on King Street, at Flagler College (pictured).
The college is housed in what was originally the luxury Ponce de Leon Hotel built in 1888, which is a stunning piece of architecture. Tours are offered, but we chose to just browse the public areas.
The most incredible thing we saw at Flagler is the gilded dome inside the main rotunda.
Across King Street is the Lightner Museum, housed in another former luxury hotel, the Alcazar. Frankly, wandering around the museum's three floors and trying to imagine its previous life as a hotel was more interesting than viewing most of the modest exhibits. That said, some of the original artwork displayed was captivating, and the indoor pool area - although repurposed - was really cool to see.
Leaving the Lightner, we headed back across King Street and down St George Street, which is a nice outdoor pedestrian mall several blocks long running through the heart of Old St Augustine. The mall features dozens of shops, galleries and restaurants coming in all flavors. It reminded us of a pedestrian version of Duval Street in Key West, if you've ever had that experience.
Some of the most attractive parts of the old town can be discovered in the back alleys and side streets, where we encountered more interesting buildings and lush gardens.
Last but not least, consider St Augustine food and drink. For coffee on the go, try Relámpago Coffee Lab on Spanish Street - really excellent. For food and cocktails, the smell of cooking drew us to Meehan's Irish Pub and Seafood House on Avenida Menendez. You can eat indoors or in the back garden, where we experienced a delicious late lunch - highly recommended.
NOTE: most museums, special exhibits, and tours in St Augustine charge fees.
DOS: everything in St Augustine starts opening around 10:00 AM so schedule accordingly. See Flagler College and definitely walk up and down the old town district. Check out the back streets as well. Parking is available in the area for $10-15.
Do not use a trolley tour on/off transport service unless you want to do a wider tour of the area, like the fort Castillo de San Marcos or Ripley's Museum or St Augustine Distillery. Plan on spending $25/person for a single day pass, which includes free parking located well outside the old town area.