I had a truly fabulous birthday celebration last weekend! It just so happened that my birthday fell smack dap in the middle of my spring break, and my sweetheart of a man had some time off as well, so we took a mini vacay! We headed over to Florida’s east coast to visit St. Augustine, one of the oldest continually occupied European settlements in North America. It’s a quaint little town full of character. Downtown historic St. Augustine has winding cobblestone streets dotted with old victorian homes, cozy bed & breakfasts, coffee bars and pubs, and other quaint little shops and touristy attractions.
We decided to go on a Thursday to save a little money with weekend hotel rates. Not only did we take this trip last minute, we also headed out without ANY reservations or plans whatsoever. I was hesitant at first but in all honesty it was the most liberating feeling in the world, and I loved not having a certain place to be at a certain time. Although I am usually a planner, sometimes it’s good to change things up a bit!
Our cozy lil B&B, located in the heart of downtown St. Augustine. We got pretty lucky with a walk-in rate of $120 a night including parking, free wi-fi and breakfast.
Since it was my birthday celebration we started the trip off with a little vino on the patio!
We decided to forgo some of the standard touristy stuff. Once you live and travel in Florida, some attractions can be repetitive after awhile. Most of the museum rates and tours were kind of pricey, and to be honest the most important part was relaxing and enjoying each other’s company–so we did just that!
So what followed was a good deal of walking, talking, eating & drinking, a little shopping and tons of picture taking!
There were cute trolly rides for those inclined towards a guided tour. (Although we tromped around on foot of course!) In the background is the historically acclaimed Flagler college.
Walking along the St. Augustine pier. The weather was perfect and the skyline was breathtaking.
Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest standing masonry fort in the U.S., first constructed by Spanish settlers in 1672. We walked the grounds of the fort and got a few good pictures in–had to do something touristy but didn’t shell out a dollar for this one!
On the first day we stumbled upon this cute lil coffee shop nestled in between the brick buildings. We loved this place and made sure to stop a few times for delicious chai cinnamon soy lattes!
Nectar of the Gods. heh. I admit, I am back to on-occassion java drinking (thanks to my coffee addicted influence of a boyfriend). But a coffee or two a week won’t kill me, and my oh my how I love the taste! A coffee shop with almond or soy milk in stock, and I’m hooked!
Overall our road trip / mini-vacay was a blast. Sometimes it’s nice just to get out of town for awhile, even if it’s just a day or two. This was my first time experiencing St. Augustine and I’m sure we will be back!
A few money saving tips for road trips:
Pack food and snacks. My man wanted to stop for lunch and snacks along the way but I insisted on packing them instead. I loaded up a produce bag with veggies and hummus, pita wraps, sweet potato chips and fresh waters. When it came time for a lunch break we were both happy to save a few bucks and have the healthier options.
Try asking for a walk-in rate with your lodging. This doesn’t always work if you visit a busy location during prime season (although to be honest St. Augustine during spring break was peak season and we still lucked out!), but often times hotels will give you discounts or lower rates to fill up rooms last minute. Sometimes you can even bargain with small family-owned establishments. i.e. Pop your head into a place and say “We were headed to a place down the street, but thought to check out here first to see if you would offer a competitive rate.”
Try the free stuff! My man and I knew that this trip would be a little money, but it definitely saved us a few bucks to avoid all of the pricey museums and tourist attractions and do things on our own. We still picked up a few souvenirs and had some delicious food and drinks, but we didn’t add on the expense of the more costly tourist stuff, and we still had a blast!
Make it short and sweet. We actually only stayed one night in St. Augustine. Our plan was to arrive early and stay late, with one night sandwiched in between. Although that didn’t go exactly according to plan (thanks to a little manly mistake of not paying attention to the GPS and driving an hour out of our way <— ha!!!), we still had a truly enjoyable getaway and only footed the hotel expense for one night.
Avoid weekends & go during the week if you can swing it! Our one night stay in the bed and breakfast was actually on a Thursday, which shaved a nice $80 or so off the nightly rate compared to a weekend stay! In addition the town was a little less crowded and clustered during the week and there were more happy hour and weekly specials to enjoy!
Truly the best 28th birthday a girl could ask for!