There are a lot of pros and cons to being spontaneous. The great majority of the time, being spontaneous is fantastic; you end up seeing and doing things you wouldn’t have otherwise and usually have a more authentic experience wherever you are. I love asking locals where to go or eat and it is liberating not to have time constraints. But, one of the cons to spontaneity is when you get somewhere and it’s closed.
Despite my lack of research, the courtyard to the Lightner Museum is really quite beautiful. So even if you don’t have the time or funds, or you do what I did and show up after they’ve closed for the day, it’s worth walking around the courtyard and reading some of the plaques. The history of the Museum is pretty interesting. Coined the “Museum of Hobbies,” the Lightner Museum opened in 1948 with Otto C. Lightner’s collections of artwork from the Gilded Age, as well as items from famous Chicago estate homes that he purchased during the Depression.
From the Lightner Museum we walked in the direction of dinner and had just enough time to explore St. George Street beforehand.
Ashley saw this little shop and wanted to maybe get something for her husband Alex but just ended up creeping a lil’ instead…love her.
We walked in a lot of stores; St. George Street is the typical “tourist” street in St. Augustine. However, we randomly discovered this one little store, St. Augustine Textiles, that had handcrafted and designed, authentic clothing and costumes from the Colonial period. I didn’t think to take a photo while we were in there because they were about to close, but it was super interesting and the staff was eager to talk about the history.
Another store that I LOVE is Go Fish. I actually ended up getting a necklace and keychain in there and I’ve been wearing them with everything. This company is pretty amazing; it’s owned and operated by a family of Christians seeking to impact the lives of indigenous peoples in developing countries. This quote is directly from the “About Us” section on the website, “We never argue a price or take advantage of the poor, but always give them the dignity and respect of buying these handcrafted goods at their asking price. All we ask in return is consistent quality. We have established meaningful long-term relationships with many families and individuals. Through the efforts of Go Fish staff, store partners, and customers, the lives of many of these people have changed for the better.” These are the kind of companies we need to support and encourage more of!!!
Here’s a little traveling tip: Even on a tight budget, find one thing to splurge on. Our splurge for the weekend was eating dinner at the Columbia Restaurant. The original Columbia Restaurant is located in Ybor City here in Tampa, FL, but the location in St. Augustine is just as delicious and a wonderful experience. You can never go wrong there and it’s worth every single penny spent.
After dinner, we walked a little ways down St. George Street. Though we did splurge on our meal, we decided against dessert there and instead settled for some yummy macaroons at a random spot.
Another historic must-see in St. Augustine is Flagler College. You can read more about the history of Flagler on the college’s website history page, Hotel to College. Flagler College used to be the Ponce de Leon hotel, built in 1888 by Henry Flagler. Once of my favorite things about the hotel’s history is that it launched, assisted, and featured the careers of many famous creatives, including architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, innovators of the Edison Electric Company, designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, and artists George Willoughby Maynard and Virgilio Tojetti, just to name a few.
Our last stop before lunch was the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church. You can read more about the church’s history, here. Flagler built this beautiful landmark in honor of his daughter.
Lunch was at Crave Food truck, right next to the water! IT WAS AMAZING. I had a vegan wrap with all sorts of veggies and hummus, and Ashley built her own wrap. I also got a smoothie and, no lie, I think it was in my top three best smoothies I’ve ever had.
After lunch, we filled up the car with gas and started the drive back toward Tampa. Our pit stop on the way back just happened to be Disney Springs in Orlando. We grabbed dinner at Blaze Pizza, which I had not been to before, and it was also amazing. I fully admit to eating that entire pizza and having no shame about it.
I hope you’ve gained some insights about St. Augustine from both of these entries. Though 36-hours isn’t a lot of time, you’ll be amazed at how much you can see and do in just a short weekend getaway and on a low-cost budget.
One of my goals for 2018 is to have more adventures! Whether it’s a weekend trip like this was, or just a micro adventure close to Tampa, I’m determined to not let my lack of funds effect my adventurous spirit. Especially as a photographer, I have found that my spirits are at their best when I’m out in nature, exploring new places, and unplugged from regular responsibility and noise. It just puts everything else in perspective.
Do you have any tips or tricks for traveling on a budget?