I love a vacation, who doesn’t?!
But I don’t always have time for one. Or maybe I don’t make enough time for them but recently, I decided that would no longer be an excuse.
My love and I both have been needing some fresh air so I suggested to him that we pack up for a night and have a mini road trip, just the two of us and of course he was on board.
He and I live a little over an hour and a half from each other so I was hoping for a town not too far, as I did not want to waste our QT on driving! The result was Saint Augustine, FL! Not a last resort in any way, as Saint Augustine holds a very special place in my heart being the hometown of my Daddy and Grandparents. As a child, we would spend Summers vacationing in Saint Augustine, visiting our family, camping on our land in Hastings, FL and hearing stories of our Poppy & Grammy’s childhood. I vividly remember hearing my Air Force grandpa (we lovingly call him Poppy along with all of his congregation and all who know him) show us streets and trees he and my grandmother, Lady Di, had played on, grew up on and one day, fell in love on. Although not born in Saint Augustine, it has always felt like home whenever I’m near. What better place to take my sweetheart? 🙂
COUPLES ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS
So I always like to be prepared. So either I’m over-prepared or I’m a complete mess, there’s no in-between. For this trip, I wanted to make sure we were all set for our time on the road, even if it was only a little under an hour! So I made sure to have a checklist of our essentials!:
- Fresh Fruit for Snacks – Huge Avocado for me & Mandarins for us both
- Beef Jerky
- Water, Powerade & Snapple
- Fresh Vegan Baked Goods from our favorite Bodega, Pop-A-Top
- Halloween Candy, LOL
- Car Charger
- Aux Cord
And we were off!
WHAT I WORE
It was literally a perfect day in Saint Augustine with about a high of 77 and not a cloud in sight! I am a strong believer in crop top weather and this was definitely it. Since we were going to be touring the town all day, I felt zero need to over dress. I paired a lime green H&M Spaghetti Strap Crop Top ($5) with my High-Waisted H&M Shorts that I got for only $7! Combined with my good ol’ Converses and my fabbbbulous Sunglasses from my favorite blogger, Amerika B Style Me that were gifted by my big sis! They sell out SO quickly on her site, my sister gifted my pair to me so I’d suggest you don’t sleep on her sales!
WHERE WE STAYED
As far as accommodations go. I won’t lie, I goofed. But it was the greatest goof possible. In my haste of getting J’s OK to plan the trip, I booked a room not even in Saint Augustine! YIKES! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon River Park Inn, but it turned out to be a wonderful move. Located in Green Cove Springs, about 30 min from Saint Augustine, the River Park Inn is an absolutely beautiful B&B run by the sweetest woman named Pat. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a neighborhood plucked from an episode of Happy Days, white picket fence intact. With a soundtrack of birds chirping and the nearby Spring rushing through the rocks, online pictures could never do this beautiful home and neighborhood justice. The inn was decorated in a very classic feel and Pat was wonderful in showing us around the Inn’s rooms and balconies where could enjoy a beautiful view on our stay. When reserving the room, there were only 2 left out of 5! We went for the Master Suite for $30 more than the other available option and it included a Jacuzzi tub, my favorite! When we arrived from a day out on the town, I was blushing to see that Pat & J had worked together to leave a wonderful bottle of wine & a beautiful bouquet of my favorites, Sunflowers & Roses. Thank you Pat for helping with this romantic surprise! To add to the love, once we realized we were having a Whirpool tub, J made sure I had some of my favorite goodies from Lush to enjoy! EEK! What a sweetheart 🙂
We did NOT want to be walking all around Saint Augustine all day and then have to drive back to Green Cove as well (call us watcha want!) so Joman sprung for the Old Town Trolley tour tickets after I showed my true lazy colors lol. Although you’ll spend almost $50 for a pair of tickets, these Trolleys take you alllll around the great tourist spots, the beach, lighthouse and so much more and allow you to hop on & off until 4:30PM. With all of the energy and gas you save, it ends up being totally worthwhile.
Our First Stop? : The Love Tree Inn & Love Tree @ 6 Cordova Street
With all of my planning, this site continued to pop up and I don’t think I ever heard of it before this trip! Located just steps away from the touristy spots you’re used to, The Love Tree Inn is on a little pebbled unassuming road that we actually passed the first time we saw it. Nestled next to a local cemetery, one would not think this is a place of romance at first glance! Upon closer review and a quick look up, you’ll notice a towering tree with it’s limbs wrapped around itself. These are called Love Trees because they are entwined so tightly, that they must embrace forever or both die. (…that’s a little morbid but you get me) There’s a legend that says: “If you kiss your loved one under that tree, you’ll seal your love for eternity.” How. Friggin. Romantic. So we had to do just this lol. Joman and I spent a little time just enjoying the tree, reading the hearts that hung from the archway and made sure to get our kiss (or two) in under the tree. We made sure to spend the $8 required to personalize a heart for the tree which will never be taken down, and even placed it so it’s close to the legend for life.
Stop # 2: Saint George Street and The Spanish Bakery & Cafe
One of the stops on the Trolley Tour is Saint George Street and what a wise choice! In my opinion, Saint George Street is a major hub in the city, whether you’re looking for food, shopping and more and I’m certain many would agree with me! So we took in more of the awesome historical facts and sites presented to us on the tour and hopped off @ Saint George Street to kill a few hours. On our stroll, we found more stores than my bank account was ready for! Whether natural/vegan wax melts & soaps, homemade hot sauce & salsas, or delicious macaroons, it’s like they knew I was coming and prepared for me to go broke-r. LOL. I didn’t give in but window shopping was quite fulfilling itself.
Joman and I are both big foodies and LIVE off of Yelp, so along with Yelp and some great travel blogs/Pinterests, we were on the hunt for The Spanish Bakery & Cafe.
Comfortably fixed in a stucco roof building, waking into the courtyard of The Spanish Bakery & Cafe feels like you are stepping back into time in the Oldest City. The smell of fresh bread and hearty soup filled the air and we knew we were in the right place. The line was outside of the door but moved quickly as we were starving and so grateful! J and I finally made it to the front of the line after only a 10min or so wait and were prepped to enjoy. We went with: a Beef Empanada, Chicken Empanada, Picadillo Soup and a Yeast Roll.
WOW. Amazinggggg!! The crust/bread was some of the best I’ve had! So fresh, warm and the texture was so light and fluffy, I see why they sell it by the loaf! The Empanadas were good but I was hoping for more of a kick of spice but we added that with some of their Datil Pepper Sauce and it was perfect. The Picadillo Soup? PERFECT. Essentially a Spanish Chili made with seasoned beef, olives and pimentos, I could taste allll of the love in this cup! Neither of us are really big on sweets but can appreciate a great pastry. Seeing the Caramel Apple Turnover that was bigger than my hand made me feel some kinda’ way and once I tasted it, I knew there was no going back. With a flaky Phyllo type of dough paired with brown sugar and perhaps honey, this treat was gone before we knew it. I can’t wait to go back!
Stop #3 : The Columbia Restaurant
I had to stop by this restaurant simply based off of the building and interior!! I have seen so many photos but wanted to see it in person and finally did! A traditional Spanish restaurant, the location is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows and strategically placed Spanish tiles throughout. This place was an interior decor lovers dream! Still full from lunch, we opted to come here for the famous Sangria I had heard such amazing things about and we were not disappointed. With the option of White, Red or Sparkling Sangria, we went with Sparkling this time and it was so tasty! I love a Sangria and this batch was made with tons of fruits and hopefully a splash too many of Brandy. Yum! At $25 a pitcher, it was well worth the 6+ glasses we enjoyed + ambiance + great company! (We also saw an abundance of pirates while enjoying our drinks!)
Stop #4: San Sebastian Winery
As much as I hate liquor or being drunk, I would bathe in red wine if it was possible or sanitary in any way. So we had to make a stop at San Sebastian Winery, which was also a stop on the Trolley Tour. Located in a huge, gorgeous factory, the Winery boasts a rooftop bar usually accompanied by live music and a variety of happy, tipsy guests. With a FREE tour, you can’t go wrong with this visit. Upon arrival and presentation of our IDs, we were handed a brochure of numbered wines that were paired with lively descriptions of ingredients and pairing. We were given little plastic cups and told to hold tightly onto them as they were our ticket to our wine. I loved that we were able to stroll around the winery as we visited each tasting station and they were not stingy with the samples!! Viewing the barrels the wine is made in and seeing all of the varieties created was amazing!! I am certain that their Rosa wine was my absolute favorite! We were given a Sherry that almost made me keel over seeing that I hate the taste of liquor!! Didn’t taste bad to anyone but my taste buds couldn’t handle it, my college self would be ashamed! After the samples, J and I decided to take in some music and a beer at the rooftop bar and it was a beautiful sight to see as the sun began to go down. I hate that we were on a time crunch and I neglected to buy any wine but I definitely know what I’ll be looking to purchase on our next visit!
Stop #5: Tours and a Walk down Memory Lane
We continued on our Trolley tour, viewing Ripley’s, Castillo de san Marcos, the Old Senator Tree, the Colonial Quarter, the Old Jail and so much more! I loved that while on the tour, I got to give my boyfriend our own little personal tour. Like the hotel below that my family and I would always stay at while in Saint Augustine. Nothing too fancy or anything, but man it brought back so many memories! We also passed by an area in the city famed for having Dr. Martin Luther King as a speaker at the local church. While in Saint Augustine, Dr. King actually stayed at the home of my Grandmother’s Godmother, Cora Tyson! What’s even more amazing is that we stopped by that very house where my cousins and I had played in the lawn by the Fig Tree only a decade+ before this trip. So proud to tell J this, I googled to find out a bit more and saw my glamorous Grammy speaking on her Godmother, as well as her mother, Lucille Plummer and my Uncle Eric, her brother who were all pivotal in the Saint Augustine Civil Rights fights. How proud am I?! 🙂
Stop #6: LikIt @ Castillo de San Marcos
As the day began to wind down, J and I wanted to relax a bit, kill a little time as we waited for our tour and have another bite to eat. We had bookmarked another little spot on Saint George Street called, LikIt and thought this would be the perfect time to try it out! Not too hungry but still wanting something to tie us over, LikIt was the perfect spot as they offered Roasted Turkey Legs, Hot Dogs, Fries, Dole Whip and so much more. We decided to pretend as though we were in Disney for just a little moment and indulged in a Turkey Leg to share + a Dole Whip! I have been wanting some Dole Whip ever since I found out it was vegan, SCORE! No longer did I have to be jealous of people walking around with ice cream cones, I was living the dream! We grabbed our treats and took a 5 min stroll up to the Castillo de San Marcos fort right out on the water. Although it costs to go inside, we opted for a free seat outside on a bench with the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. As we sat there, J not asking me for any of my Dole Whip and feeding me pieces of Turkey, I knew this man was special LOL. We just simply relaxed, enjoyed our food and each other along with the beautiful views we were taking in. It was the perfect moment to spend together, as all moments seem to be. 🙂
Stop #7: Claude’s Chocolates & a Haunted Tour
As our day finally began to wind down, we found ourselves with a little more down time as we were waiting for our 7:15 Haunted Tour and strolled into Claude’s Chocolates which is located next door to the St Augustine City Walks office. Again, as much as we are not sweets people, Joman and I are good for having a craving. My craving that night? Something sweet and something refreshing. It was wonderful to walk into this little chocolate shop covered in sweet treats! J recommended I have a hot drink (after me freezing my butt off for the past hour resulting in a new Saint Augustine hoodie purchase) but I was sad to hear that a dairy-free Hot Chocolate wasn’t an option. 🙁 So I got a little wild and we did an Italian Mango Soda, mmmm. I loved that the chocolate options weren’t all in bulk as I knew I only wanted a taste and I settled on a nice chunk of chocolate and almond bar, knowing I shouldn’t be eating it at all! But man was it worth it! We sat and enjoyed the chocolate & soda, hovered up on a little bench looking out on the Lightner Museum and all was well. 🙂 The History, Mystery, Mayhem & Murder Tour was our plan for the night as I grabbed 2 tickets from Groupon for only $11! Upon joining the group, we were both super excited to hear some crazy stories as I am (too big of) a fan of murder and crime mysteries! Although initially excited for the tour, I’m sad to say we left after only about 20 min. as I felt the first story was similar to what we had already learned on our tours earlier and wasn’t much of a mystery, mayhem or any murder LOL 🙁 But the hostess was phenomenal and it was my fault for expecting Halloween Horror Nights in the flesh. No biggie though because we were hyped for dinner and to enjoy the B&B so this gave us a reason to make that happen.
Stop #7: Dinner @ A1A Ale Works
Although we are focused on activities as well, I promise you all that the food is key for Joman and I LOL. We are not the arguing type but if there is any frustration, it’s over where to have a meal at. We have TOO many options and our palates are so extensive so we always want to try something new and something wonderful. For dinner we struggled between A1A, Prohibition Kitchen and The Ice Plant. Having heard amazing things about all of these places, I gave up and asked J to make the final choice. He’s so great lol. We went with A1A which boasts a beautiful balcony seating area overlooking the water and it was absolutely beautiful! We were only waiting about 20 min when we were escorted to our table and got a glimpse of the delicious menu. I thought I was craving pasta (again) but went with the Pan Seared Grouper special which was topped with crispy fried onions sitting in a mustard en blanc sauce, paired with Veggies & Fingerling Potatoes. Heavenly. Joman went with the Shrimp & Scallop Pasta and from the bites I was gifted with, it was definitely a win as well. Delicious Food paired with a wonderful view? A1A is definitely a spot I’m excited to return to!
After Dinner, it was back to our B&B where we slept like we had never slept before in life! Sunday was the start of Daylight Savings Time so we actually got an extra hour in and boy was it lovely! I awoke early as always, checked out a few pics from the day before and enjoyed a bit of Gidget on TV (I’m an old soul). I woke J up for our 8:30 breakfast call downstairs with some of the other guests and we were in for a treat! Pat, the B&B Owner, had prepared a delicious breakfast for us of: Scrambled Eggs, Grits, Bacon, Oatmeal (all in individual ramekins!), Raisin Bread French Toast, Fresh Fruit, Orange Juice and Coffee. Sooooo perfect for a Sunday morning!!
As we packed up our bags to leave the beautiful cities that showed us such a phenomenal time within just 24 hours, Joman and I were so happy we got to enjoy two beautiful cities filled with rich cultures, histories and our favorite, food!
Check out a few more pics below!