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Though St. Augustine possesses all the sunny charms of its other beachy Florida brethren, there's an air of the old world that makes it unlike any other city in Florida. It is, after all, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the contiguous United States, founded by the Spanish in 1565. What makes St. Augustine different from other historic American cities is both the Spanish influence and undying commitment from locals to preserve and promote the history in every facet of the city's infrastructure. St. Augustine is oozing with history, with an endless number of museums, historic tours, and gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival architecture around every corner. The history on exhibit is anything but stuffy, often presented with a touch of mirth - think Pirate museums, a themed archaeology park based on Ponce De Leon's famed Fountain of Youth and galleon tours complete with locals dressed in vintage costumes. Some of it edges on kitschy territory, but there's enough authenticity in the city's rich history to keep it anchored.
The history is woven into just about every activity there is in St. Augustine, but you'd be remiss to forget about the gorgeous beaches. St. Augustine Beach is the most essential, but nearby Vilano Beach and Crescent Beach provide a more peaceful, local alternative. There's also healthy supply of quality fine dining restaurants as well as down-to-earth southern eateries and tasty cafes to keep you fueled.