Sorry I'm a little late posting the blog for this month! Back on Mother's Day weekend, we took a little trip to my favorite place in the world, St. Augustine (our first since quarantine). I couldn't wait, and had long said this would be my first stop! While we normally would've done at least 2 nights, we decided to ease back into travel with just a one night getaway. Here's a review of the places we stayed and the things we did. I should note that it's still important to call your hotel first to see if they are taking reservations for leisure travelers. There may still be restrictions if you come from hot spot areas. If you book through me, I take care of all this for you! :)
We were there just before most places opened back up that next Monday. Our hotel's restaurant was still closed, but we were given the website where the city was keeping up with the status of all the dining and attractions in the area, their hours, and how we could (or couldn't) be served. This tool proved invaluable to us and I'm so glad the front desk had the foresight to at check in!
We got to town a few hours before check in, so we decided to take our traditional walk down St. George Street to get our weekend started. Things looked pretty much normal, though a little less crowded. Some people had masks, but most did not. Stores had traffic flow signs posted and *most* followed them (here's looking at you, 2 guys at the coffee shop who clearly read the sign then chose to ignore it. Yes, I judged you). One exciting thing we saw was Aviles Street was getting a facelift. We knew this was in progress already because we'd been keeping up with our friend's art gallery on Facebook, but we were still excited to see it. We were a little bummed that we missed the artist, though!
This time, we walked a little slower and made more stops, really paying attention to things that we usually just breeze right past. We took in the signs and monuments in the square, read the plaque next to the fountain, and just slowed down to take it all in and refamiliarize ourselves with things we hadn't took note of in year. Oh, and of course, being the awesome travel advisor that I am, we checked out the inn that I had recently booked for a client :)
We have a few favorites in St. Augustine. You can find a list when you view the virtual tour. But there is one that we almost always hit up for lunch at some point during our stay: Rendezvous. Y'all, their potato salad is the best I've ever tasted. And honestly, I don't like potato salad too much. The food is amazing, but some may actually be interested in their claim to fame: pretty much any beer you can imagine is there. They even have an "Around the World" Challenge: 184 beers. When you complete the list, you get 10% off and your name on a plaque. Obviously, I don't recommend doing this in one sitting. There's no time limit on this challenge, so drink responsibly.
We usually stay in the historic district, but this time we decided to stay on the beach. We realized the historic district could still be shuttered from the lock down, but knew the beaches were open. So we knew if we stayed on the beach, we would at least be able to have fun. So, we had a whole new side of town and a lot of new restaurants opened up for us. Originally, we wanted to check out Salt Life. Unfortunately, they weren't allowed to give wait times over the phone (we were hungry!) so we put them on the list for next time and ended up at Sunset Grille. They were allowing dine in, but at only 25% capacity, the wait was too long for us. We placed a to-go order and took it back to the hotel room. I'm sort of a connoisseur of coconut shrimp, and theirs didn't not disappoint! Paired with a baked potato and dinner was delicious, even if it was eaten standing up :)
Mother's Day Brunch was at Beachside Diner. Also not a disappointment, the Belgian Waffle was amazing! We were able to sit down inside the restaurant and were impressed by the amount of cleaning, the proper wearing of masks and social distancing between tables. Both of these restaurants were kid approved, though our guy eats more than your typical 3 year old (I think, anyway). He needed a little more than the kid's 1-1-1 Bacon, egg & toast.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, no visit to St. Augustine is complete without a stop at City Perks, our favorite little coffee shop on St. George Street. It was here that I first discovered the London Fog a few years ago, and they still make the best I've ever had. They serve your typical specialty coffees and coffee alternatives, but also spiked coffee, beer, wine, and some seasonal food. For kids, their smoothies are an excellent option!
When we arrived at the Guy Harvey resort, we had a strange feeling of Déjà vu. We soon realized we had stayed there in 2007 when it was the Holiday Inn. After talking with the clerk at checkout, we learned that it has had the same owners since then, but changed names a couple of times. The resort was now going through a renovation (that is to be completed soon). Maybe that is why we were a little underwhelmed. We were expecting a little more for the price and the name, having been to different resorts of the same chain in the past, but we were also sensitive to the fact that things were a little different given the situation. Service was great and our room was clean, but the hotel itself definitely has the old Florida hotel feel that needed some updates. Social distancing was in place, with the hotel restaurant closed and at least half of the pool furniture stored.
An oceanfront room for this trip was a must. I was especially thrilled with the mural of the Fort in our room. I'm not sure if each room has different murals, or if they are all the same, but I found myself wondering how I could get the same mural in my house :) The room was clean and the bed was comfortable. It was everything we expected, with all of the amenities that come pretty standard in hotels now. Refrigerator, tv, soap, shampoo. We did run out of toilet paper and had to go hunt some down. I get it, that stuff was in short supply and they didn't want people taking the extra roll on check out. It was still a little annoying, though, that we weren't given a full roll to start out our stay.
The view from the balcony was amazing. I'm a little nervous when it comes to my son out on the balcony, and I will say, the PCV pipe barrier made it a little more nerve-racking. Like I said, old Florida hotel in need of updates. But as long as he stayed away from the barrier, I was ok. Everything else felt safe.
Since it was cold and windy, we didn't stay on the beach long. But, my typical kid insisted on swimming in the pool. He froze his little tail off, but had fun. LOL. And, while hubby was helping him swim around, I took some time to relax pool side. No drinks from the pool side bar today, but it was open.
The resort has direct access to the beach via a short boardwalk. St. Augustine Beach is one of my favorite Atlantic Coast beaches. It's usually pretty clean and just a nice place to go for a walk or just sit and enjoy the sunshine. The shelling is not great, but we did pick up a few nice ones. Like I said, though, cold and windy so we didn't spend a whole lot of time on the beach (plus, we were only there for one night, so that cut into our enjoyment). Speaking of nights on the beach, we usually enjoy a night walk. The beaches closed at sunset, so that wasn't an option for us this time, and I missed it :(
The old jail
As many times as we've been to St. Augustine, there are still a lot of the historical places we haven't been. The Old Jail is one of those places. It is in the same area as the Oldest Store Museum, the St. Augustine History Museum, and the main pick up/drop off for the Old Town Trolley (free parking with trolley passes!) When you buy the 2 day trolley ticket, you'll also get admission for all of these attractions. Unfortunately, the Oldest Store Museum was closed, and honestly, we were just ready to get back home after we went through the Old Jail, so we'll have to put the St. Augustine History Museum on our list for next time. The weather was a bummer for the weekend, for sure!
Because of the weather, social distancing, and the time we arrived at the Old Jail shortly after they opened, we got a private tour from Sheriff Deputy Slaughter. The tour was entertaining and the history was super interesting. WHen you arrive at the Old Jail, you are transported to 1908 and the reign of Sherriff Perry. Some interesting facts:
*It was commissioned by Henry Flagler, who wanted to provide a safe environment for his patrons at Flagler Hotel (the original jail was near the hotel, this one was built across town).
*Flagler didn't want the jail to mess up the landscape of the city, so it is almost unrecognizable (except for the bars on the windows) as a jail
*The jail was built by the same people responsible for Alcatraz, the P.J. Pauley Jail Company
*The jail served St. Augustine until 1953.
I don't know if it was the weather, the stories, or just the fact that we were on a private tour, but this place was pretty creepy (especially the maximum security part)! If you're into ghost tours, I'm sure this would be a great place to do a night stop.
St. Augustine was amazing, as always. I would recommend every place we visited, though the resort would be with caution. Only because the stay combined with the price is a little underwhelming, but to me, a hotel with direct access to the beach was definitely worth it. The Old Jail is now a must-do on my list of recommendations. Don't forget to get all of your attraction and tour tickets using the DIY reservations link at the top of my website!
Have you been to the Old Jail or stayed at the Guy Harvey resort? This was just a one night trip, so our activities were limited, but if you have a request for an attraction review, send me an email! I'd love to know your thoughts!
Tales of a travel agent. Reviews, lists, and anything in between. *Opinions are my own and do not reflect the views of any travel companies mentioned. There may affiliate links in these posts. If you use these links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.