St. Augustine is known for its history and tourist attractions such as the Castillo De San Marcos, The Fountain of Youth, The Old Jail, the Lighthouse and several other historical spots around town. However, locals and other regular visitors get bored going to the same places over and over again. So this weekend I adventured with some friends to find interesting places to visit that not everyone knows about. Here are seven off-the-beaten path places to visit when in the St. Augustine and Jacksonville areas:
We continued our adventure traveling along A1A North back into St. Augustine. The first stop there was Castle Otttis. I first discovered Castle Otttis about a year ago when driving home from Jacksonville. Driving along a highway in a beach town, not many would expect to stumble upon a castle. I have not had the chance to go inside the Irish inspired castle but according to their website, appointments can be made for group tours. Castle Otttis is mysterious and beautiful.
Next, we drove just a little while away on A1A, and went to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve). GTM is an incredible nature reserve where you can explore trails and animal watch. I felt instant relaxation when I visited. But beware, I did see a snake as soon as I stepped foot on the reserve. Anyone looking to get out of town but not too far away should take a hike over to the GTM Research Reserve.
The next stop we made was the Matanzas Inlet. I recommend this for locals and tourist who want to go to the beach but do not mind going a little out of the way to avoid the busyness of St. Augustine and Vilano Beaches. With a gorgeous view on Fort Matanzas, the inlet is relaxing and worth the half hour drive.
On the way back from the inlet we found Fort Matanzas National Monument. This state park offers a half mile walking trail and a free ferry ride over to the fort. This fort is smaller than Castillo De San Marcos; however, is out of the way of downtown craziness and a great place to learn about a part of St. Augustine’s history that you might not have ever heard about before.