Forty miles north of Daytona Beach, US-1 passes through the heart of charismatic ST AUGUSTINE. Eminently walkable, with a densely packed city centre and a Mediterranean feel, it bucks the daunting sprawl of much of Florida’s East Coast. The oldest permanent settlement in the US, with much from its early days still intact along its narrow streets, it also offers two alluring lengths of beach just across Matanzas Bay.

Bordered on the west by St George Street – once the main thoroughfare and now a tourist-trampled, though genuinely historic, pedestrianized strip, its entrance anchored by the eighteenth-century City Gate – and on the south by Plaza de la Constitución, St Augustine’s Old Town holds the well-tended evidence of the town’s Spanish period. It may be small, but there’s a lot to see: an early start, around 9am, will give you a lead on the tourist crowds, and should allow a good look at almost everything in one day.

Brief history

Though Ponce de León touched ground here in 1513, European settlement didn’t begin until half a century later, when Spain’s Pedro Menéndez de Avilés put ashore on St Augustine’s Day in 1565. The town developed into a major social and administrative centre, soon to become the capital of east Florida. Subsequently, Tallahassee became the capital of a unified Florida, and St Augustine’s fortunes waned. Since then, expansion has largely bypassed the town – a fact inadvertently facilitating the restoration programme that has turned this quiet community into a fine historical showcase.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

10 places where you can see America's fall foliage at its finest

10 places where you can see America's fall foliage at its finest

As fall takes hold, a magnificent blanket of gold and amber leaves begins to descend across the USA. Misty morning walks and roaring fires start to bec…

21 Sep 2017 • Phoebe Tatham insert_drive_file Article
Beer and bison burgers: a foodie's guide to Denver

Beer and bison burgers: a foodie's guide to Denver

Countless cities are credited with a burgeoning food scene – but Denver, the Wild West capital of Colorado, stands out from the crowd. In 2016, a stagger…

19 Sep 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month