There are so many wonderful things about the State of Florida and many of them are just plain free! On this site, I'll be exploring the free side of Florida as well as low cost options for your weekends or vacation. But because I don't want to steer you wrong, I'll post after I visit these places myself. Have a great time on the site and on your own adventures!

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Castillo de San Marcos and Old Downtown St. Augustine, FL

Interior of Castillo de San Marcos
Started in 1672, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort and the only 17th Century fort still existing in North America. It's location, St. Augustine, FL is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the present United States, dating officially to 1565 and unofficially to 1513 and Ponce de Leon.

Basically, as far as North America goes, it's a really old place.

The Fort is where we started the day and the history associated with this National Monument is just astonishing. Five different flags have flown over it's walls. Amazing successes and terrifying shames have lived there. Historical figures have lived and died there. This Fort IS American history.

This Fort was also the main defense for the City of St. Augustine, whose walls are yards away. And every hour on the half-hour, they give a cannon demonstration that is very loud, but not to miss! Stroll from the fort to the entrance to the City and you will find St. George Street. This was the main heart of the City, and still remains active today. Shopping, dining, entertainment... it's all still there. Even the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the United States is there. But this isn't the only place to stroll in the city. Wander further and you can find Flagler College, founded as a hotel by the American Oil and Land Baron Henry Flagler. Museums, historic jails and the Huguenot Cemetery, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, an alligator farm, the Lincolnville Historic District, and the Fountain of Youth among SO many other sites. One could easily spend a week here and not see everything there is to see.

And at night, the city starts to show visitors her darker side. One has to expect that with an area this old and that has seen so many battles and changes of hands that there must be more than a few "energies" that should have been left in the past. The ghost tours are plentiful and fun. Easy to find, these enjoyable tours are a break from the average sightseeing tours, although they do cost a bit extra.
The smell of bean soup from
the Mill Top Tavern was

Entry to the Fort is $6 per adult and most of the City is free to wander through. The only places you would pay extra for (and they are everywhere) are places that one might need to enter to see - the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, for instance. But really, unless you want to spend a lot of money and all of your time inside, there's no need to do that. There is so much in St. Augustine to see that is unique and interesting that your free time can be just that... Free!

One more bit of info: If you happen to hold a Golden Age Pass from the National Parks Service (which are unfortunately no longer offered, click the link for details) Castillo de San Marcos is included and admission is free for you and three guests.

For more information on Castillo de San Marcos and all of St. Augustine, click the name or visit:

Click HERE for a map.

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