Back in June, I surprised my husband, Tim, with a birthday trip to St. Augustine, Florida; the oldest city in the United States. He had never been, and I had visited half a dozen times over the years, so I figured it would be an easy trip, with little concern over directions, what to do, and where to go.
We took off on a Thursday night. Part of the deal was to give him a clue every few hours as to where we were going. Before we even pulled out of the driveway, I have him his first gift. I said, “It will either be insect repellent (for the mountains,) or sunscreen (for the sea.) He opened the sunscreen and knew immediately that we were heading South.
We drove about two hours and stopped for a night in Valdosta, Georgia. Valdosta is right on the Georgia/Florida border. My guy loves steak, so we picked a steakhouse and indulged our carnivorous tongue. We pulled up to an Austin’s Cattle Company , located just one exit away from our hotel. The location was a bit odd to us – a nice steak house in this budget-looking motel, but the quality was super delicious! After dinner, we popped back over to our stay for the night, the Drury Inn. Surprisingly, our hotel was really quite nice, with lots of little features to make our stay comfortable. The price was right, and the room was quiet – and off we went to sleep. Before we went to bed, I gave him our next clue – a peacock pen. Now, if you have ever been to St. Augustine and visited the Fountain of Youth, you know about the beautiful peacocks roaming free. However, he had no idea. Still puzzled… we went to sleep.
The next morning, we were pleased to find a fantastic breakfast bar in the hotel (and it was free!) So far everything was going swimmingly!
We headed south. His next clue would still stump him until much later – it was a stuffed lion. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Oh I know where we are going! Busch Gardens!) Well.. I started giggling and knew I had officially stumped him.
Right before we got to Jacksonville, I gave him his next clue – a painting my mom did of the St. Augustine light house. Still.. not sure what beach we were heading too, but knew we were heading toward the coast. Finally, as we turned to head south down A1A, I gave him his final clue – a book about Hernando de Soto (the explorer that founded St. Augustine.) Finally – he got it and was incredibly excited.
As soon as we got to the town, we stopped at the Fountain of Youth. Since this was his actual birthday, I thought this would be appropriate – so have a sip of this magical elixir.
While there, we walked around, admiring the sites and reenactors, and enjoyed the views!
After the FOY, we drove over to St. George Street to explore the gorgeous city and grab lunch.
Our pick was the Bull & Crown Publik House. Man oh man.. hands down one of the best pubs I have ever visited. The food was incredible!
I cannot recommend this place enough. Seriously. Make sure to pop by there if you are visiting.
It is hot as hell in Florida in June, but they had these fantastic fans blowing on us the entire time, so it was completely possible to eat outside without feeling like you would melt. It’s right on St. George Street and perfect for chilling out and people watching.
After lunch, we walked around and visited a ton of the shops.
I bought Tim this super fancy hat from the Panama Hat Shop. Then we made our way over to the oldest Catholic Church in America.
After saying a little prayer for my guy’s birthday, we decided to make our way over to our Air B&B.
Our place was located one block from the light house.
We were in the second oldest house on St. Augustine Beach! We rented the top floor and had an adorable set up. So private and very shabby chic. Our host left us a bottle of bubbly!
We rested up a bit, then headed back into the historic district for dinner. I made reservations at Columbia – a Spanish Restaurant on St. George Street.
As soon as we got there, we ordered the homemade Sangria. They literally prepare it for you table side.
Our dinner was amazing.. and the salad.. have mercy! The 1905 Salad was the hit of the night! It’s rare for a salad to upstage everything else. But man oh man!
We next morning we got up to catch the sunrise. Another first for Tim! He had never watch the sun rise on the Atlantic, so we set our clocks and made our way over to the beach!
After that, we went to this total dive –
Little Margie’s Cafe! The food was really good and the service incredible. Talk about some delicious omlettes!
After breakfast, we went home and took a nap. Only to pile back into the car and drive to another St. Augustine Beach favorite –
The Conch House. We met my former foreign exchange student, Elena (from Moldova,) and her husband, (Mexico!) We went from eating English to Spanish, to Cuban to Caribbean!
We got to sit up in these cool little tree houses. The drinks, the view, and the breeze was awesome!
We were having so much fun, we did not want the afternoon to end. So Elena and her husband took us to San Sebastian Winery – where we enjoyed a fantastic wine tasting! You guys know I can’t pass up a good wine tasting!
After we indulged (again!) we drove to Palm Coast to meet her family. We enjoyed traditional Russian cuisine and village dances. Yes… they danced… in a circle.. holding hands.. to music. It. Was. Awesome.
Add Russian food to the weekend.
We finally headed back, got a good night sleep, and drove back to home.
It was probably one of the most random trips I have ever half way planned.
What was so refreshing was getting the opportunity to introduce my husband to things I liked, and seeing how he would respond. From the history, to the foreign cuisine, to the culture, to the beach – we were in heaven. Happy 47th, Tim!