Happy 450th birthday, St Augustine!
Established in 1565 when Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived with 800 colonists, St Augustine is America’s first city. Tapestry – the Cultural Threads of First America is the Commemoration signature exhibition that shares the story of how three intertwining cultures – Spanish, African, and Native American – came together to form the foundation of the American culture.
This beautiful exhibit features authentic objects, original documents and interactive elements that can be enjoyed by all ages. One of the featured items is a large-scale replica of the San Pelayo, Menendez’s flagship – a gift from the city of Aviles to St Augustine in honor of the celebration. There is also a citywide passport program that connects visitors with important historical sites throughout St Johns county.
The exhibit is FREE and located at the Visitor Information Center, 10 West Castillo Drive in St Augustine. For more information, call 904.805.1053 or visit their website.
There are many exciting activities going on in the First Coast area this weekend. Here are two of my favorites:
Mandarin Art Festival, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 – 5:00 on the Mandarin Community Club grounds at 12447 Mandarin Road
This year marks the 46th Mandarin Art festival, and I think I have attended almost all of them. Classical guitarist Don Thomas will be back this year playing acoustic tunes under the oak trees. Enjoy food, vendors from all over the country, family activities and great camaraderie!
There will also be Mandarin themed items available for purchase. Here is a picture of the t-shirt design by artist Julie Fetzer:
Manatees Rule by Julie Fetzer
St. Augustine Easter Parade, Sunday 3:00-4:00 downtown St. Augustine
What’s not to love about a parade in our nation’s oldest city! See bands, clowns, horses and, of course, the Easter Bunny. The parade begins at Mission Nombre de Dios and proceeds down San Marco Street and Cathedral Place.
Seafood and Sailboats will grace Florida’s First Coast this weekend. In St. Augustine, there is the Lions Seafood Festival Friday through Sunday. There’s an Arts and Crafts Village, live entertainment, and lots of seafood.
In Fernandina, visitors can tour not one, but two replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships. The Nina, and her larger sister, the Pinta will be docked at the base of Centre Street through Monday.
This fountain is located outside the St. Augustine Visitor Center near the Old Spanish Trail marker featured in last week’s Foto Friday.
Did you know that St. Augustine has a sister city in Spain? It is Aviles, the birthplace of Pedro Menendez, founder of St. Augustine in 1565. Throughout the twentieth century, the two cities have maintained close ties and exchanged gifts. The masks on this fountain were presented to St. Augustine in 2005 by the City of Aviles. They are reproductions of the 6 faces that serve as water spouts for the municipal fountain in the San Francisco neighborhood of Aviles.
As many times as I have been to St. Augustine , last weekend was the first time I noticed this historic marker, located just outside the Visitor Center.
Here is the inscription:
Old Spanish Trail Zero Milestone
St. Augustine, Fla to San Diego, Calif
Erected and dedicated by The Exchange Club of St. Augustine A.D. 1928
Just 5 more days to see Picasso Art & Arena at the newly renovated St. Augustine Visitor Center. The collection is on display for the first time in the United States and consists of graphic art, illustrated books and ceramics by Pablo Picasso.
Picasso had an answer for those who find modern art difficult to understand: “The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I take pictures that do?”
Another of his quotes: “It took me four months to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
Much of this exhibit centers on the theme of bullfighting, one of Picasso’s favorite sports. The displays are beautifully arranged and suitable for families as well as for the art connoisseur. What a wonderful opportunity to see the works of one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century!
If you go: The St. Augustine Visitor Center is located at 10 W. Castillo Drive. Exhibition hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm through Sunday, August 11, 2013. There is a small entrance fee. For more information, call 904.825.1000.
The Back 40 Urban Cafe in St. Augustine is a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner away from the tourist crowds. You’ll have to look to find it, as the charming little house blends with other residential homes on the street. Once inside, there are several different rooms in which to eat.
The menu has a Mexican touch and offers many vegetarian options, as well as chicken pot pie and amazing tacos. Happy Hour specials are from 3-6 everyday. Bring friends and family! You’ll find this hidden gem at 40 South Dixie Highway, St. Augustine, Florida 32082.
Several years ago, the was a huge beach refurbishment project to restore the St. Augustine beaches. Today, even after several Nor’easters and tropical storms, you can still enjoy walking on an expansive sandy beach. One of my favorite places is at the pier in St. Augustine.
There is amply parking (at least in the off-season), the pier (small fee for walking or fishing), a large covered pavilion, volleyball courts and more. Before you leave the area, walk across the street for lunch or dinner at Panama Hatties or visit the Lighthouse and Museum nearby.
The nineteenth annual St Augustine Night of Lights Festival opened November 17th and will run through January 31st, 2013. Each night millions of tiny white lights transform downtown into a Winter Wonderland.
There’s even Santa’s Big Red Christmas Train to carry you around. The train starts at Ripley’s Museum and fare is $7 for adults and $4 for children.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse, located off A1A across the Bridge of Lions, is not only a lighthouse and museum, but a working archaeological site, full of history. 219 steps lead to the top of the lighthouse, where you are rewarded with a refreshing breeze and panoramic views of St. Augustine and the intercoastal waterway.
If you are training for an adventure involving hills or steps, this is your place to get into shape! I brought my backpack and made multiple trips up and down while getting ready for a trek across the Grand Canyon.
If you go: Admission fee at this writing is $9.50 for adults and $7.5o for children and seniors, and includes a self-guided audio tour. Allow at least an hour to climb the stairs and tour the museum. Children must be at least 44 inches tall in order to climb. More information is available at www.StAugustineLighthouse.com.