St. Augustine is a charming Florida tourist town where weather is near perfect year round, silky sand beaches roll on for miles and history comes alive in unimaginable ways. A walk down legendary streets that boast a colonial Spaniard spirit and a short lived British occupation show the variety one can encounter here.
One of the city’s foremost and un-missable attractions is its harbor side fort. The Castillo San Marcos as it is properly named is an iconic bastion of Spaniard colonialism in the era of exploration. As an attraction it is well maintained, affordable to access and constantly the focus of displays, historic re-enactments and offers some of the best panoramas of downtown St. Augustine which it is so conveniently close to.
The 450 year old edifice is administered by the National Park Service and it can be seen in a good 1 to 2 hours. For those with a short timeframe on their hands or just not that interested in paying admission, it is possible to stroll all around the outside walls of the fort and even see old canons on display. The high season is summertime and the lowest season is September to visit the park. Hours run from 8:45am till 5:00pm each day. A ticket costs 7 dollars for anyone over the age of 15. Those under 15 must be accompanied by an adult and the ticket is good for 7 consecutive days thereafter. Parking can be found inexpensively in front of the fort or in a covered garage just a few minutes away in the downtown.
The Fort itself is worth seeing because it is so well maintained, in fact more than ruins it looks completely functional. The walls are made from a unique limestone which has withstood cannonballs and hurricanes, but is crumbly and sensitive to touch. Inside curiosities include a look at the ‘bastion system’ of defense with the interior design, as well as a stockpile of historic weapons and armaments. There are weapon demonstrations every day on the half hour mark. The daily demonstations of a naval battle complete with real cannon fire is quite memorable for families and kids. There is a well stocked gift shop on site with memorable souvenirs and a wealth of educational resources about this site in particular and the tumultuous role it played in the inclusion of Florida into the United States.