Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine
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Castillo de San Marcos is a fort with a lovely vantage point on the water in St Augustine. It is spacious so even though there are crowds (like everywhere in St Augustine), you don't feel claustrophobic. The fort was built in 1672 (this is old for America!) using coquina which is a stone made of shells. It has the most adorable shapes including little round towers built into the side of the walls.
When it's hot in the town, come to the castillo to enjoy the strong, cooling breeze off the water. You can sit up on the wall along the water and watch the sailboats glide by. The castillo area reminded me of Sydney Harbor, with its old historic building, glistening water, and sailboats. Or Monterey in California. There are even some hills and slopes, a delight for a Floridian's eyes!
In the afternoon, rangers in period dress fire the cannons. We saw this at around 1:45pm and it was fun! You don't need to pay to see this- just stand outside by the water and watch.
The castillo is right in the town so you can just walk there. Take a stroll along the waterfront after- there is a long boardwalk.
St Augustine is a tourist trap, but there are two places worth visiting: this castillo and the Mission Nombre de Dios, which is a pilgrimage site with the most adorable ivy-covered chapel. Also nice is to sit outside and have a cup of tea on the patio of the Chocolate Turtle in the quieter part of town. And of course it's nice to walk around the town outside the Lightner Museum and Flagler College and pop into churches you find along the way.
You don't need to pay to go inside the castillo if you've spent enough money on tourist attractions. Just sit outside and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere.
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Castillo de San Marcos is located at 1 S. Castillo Dr, St Augustine FL 32084.
Open for entry daily 9-5. Closed Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25.
Entry is $10 per person aged 16 and over. Free for fourth graders and their family.
There is a parking lot ($1.50 per hour) but you'll only find a spot if you come first thing in the morning. Otherwise, drive around the streets (use 8 Carrera St, St Augustine 32084 in your GPS) to look for free parking along the road.
The Chocolate Turtle, 27 Cordova Street, St Augustine FL 32084.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.