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Would Saint Augustine, FL work as a destination for a car-less traveller?

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Jan 18th, 2013, 12:57 PM
  #1
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Would Saint Augustine, FL work as a destination for a car-less traveller?

Hello,

I've figured out a way to get there without a car. Now the question: Saint Augustine FL has piqued my curiosity as a place to potentially go next year for a warmer Christmas- New Years getaway before I return to a Canadian winter. I'm curious about it since it is seems such a standout in Florida in a way, being a place of very early Spanish settlement and I do enjoy history.

There are a number of things I can't get a sense of:

1. Is Saint Augustine a place one could cycle from say, in reasonable safety with good street smarts from the historic center to the beach? I read an article bemoaning the lack of paths, but also saying that there were lots of cyclists in the center.

2. How much of the history is * continuous*, meaning are there a fair number of buildings dating from Spanish settlement days or is it one of those places that has modern buildings making a faux attempt to re-create history? A relative told me she found the "Fountain of Youth" hokey, so it got me wondering.

3. If one stayed reasonably near what seems to me the activity epicenter (King & Castillo Streets?), in your opinion, could one have a pleasant stay without a car? I don't care if I "DO" everything in the region. With a few sites of historic interest, some nice strolls, access to inexpensive but good places to eat by foot, I'm happy. A few days just chilling in warmer weather is a selling point enough. Bike rides and beach access are bonuses. I'm perfectly wiling to use the city bus system armed with schedules or take a cab or three if it'll help me get to a particularly interesting site.

In the vicinity, I had a great time in Savannah and Charleston without a car. I know Florida generally is not noted to be the best for the car-less, but perhaps unfairly so for certain parts. I thought Key West was great for me being so compact, a Miami visit do-able (and actually interesting) with patience, flexibility, armed with bus schedules and being OK about not doing it all, and Fort Lauderdale not great but passable if you're fine with just beach, water taxi and environs.

I don't drive and will choose something else if the prevailing advice is "rent a car".

Best wishes, Daniel
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Jan 18th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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It is one of those places that has modern buildings making a faux attempt to recreate history. In general.

There are buildings of historic interest but in general they date to the age of the great hotels, the turn of the last century when the railroad came and opened up vacation traffic (cf the Canadian Pacific and its hotels of the same era).

Google maps make it half an hour from center to center on a bike. There is a state park at St A Beach that looks easier to get to on a bike.

Temperatures that week this winter were from lows around 40F to highs in the low 70's F, not beach weather if it is breezy but fine for hanging out, walking etc.

Personally, I would go back to the Keys or Miami because it is more likely to be reliably warm.
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Jan 18th, 2013, 02:21 PM
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Carless is fine. I have visited there a number of times and learned fairly quickly that I didn't need a car to get around.
It is a sweet little town with a good share of restaurants.
Personally I have found Ft.Lauderdale very enjoyable. I love the water taxi!
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Jan 18th, 2013, 02:23 PM
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Or I'd go to Charleston. You can do it all there with a bike or on your feet. You won't necessarily have the beach--and it may or may not be really warm. But I'm sure there is bus service to the beach if you wanted to go for the day.
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Jan 18th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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Thanks ackislander, cmcfong, Gretchen for your replies

cmcfong-- I too had a pleasant day exploring Fort Lauderdale. I realize my statement had room for misinterpretation; I meant that Ft. L. was "not great but passable" for the carless in terms of getting around. This was mostly since I felt the distances from hotel to even a single reasonably-priced restaurant open at night were larger than for most destinations I pick. And I was relatively centrally located by a water taxi stop and the A1A; even so, I had to walk 30 minutes to the A1A/Las Olas Blvd. intersection just for a bite to eat.

Thanks for specifically addressing the carless question about Saint Augustine.

ackislander-- I'm ok with not-as-warm as I enjoyed cooler Savannah, Beaufort SC and Charleston the past two Christmas to New Year's periods. I even got a bike ride in while in Beaufort SC last month, which I can't dream of doing in Montreal in late December. I don't like the idea of the faux historic, but as long as there's enough real historic to compensate, I'd be OK with that. I did a Google search and found the Oldest Schoolhouse, Oldest House, Castillo de San Marcos; they semm like the real deal from what I can tell, but perhaps they are the exception?
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Jan 19th, 2013, 04:48 AM
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No, there are plenty of historic buildings. The Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) is the most interesting from the turn of the century.

At the end of the Wikipedia article on St Augustine is a list of additional sites from various eras. You can find the good ones there. There is a reason why the Spanish Quarter Village is mentioned but does not direct to an article.
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Jan 19th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Thanks Ackislander,

The end of the Wikipedia article has convinced me that there's enough history there to make a visit worthwhile. With all your advice, I'm highly leaning toward visiting Saint Augustine next year!

Best wishes, Daniel
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