BLOG: Visiting St. Augustine

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Alyssa Raymond

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (WTHR) — What a whirlwind of a day! We left Destin and drove about six hours to St. Augustine. As soon as we got there we hit the ground running. Photographer Steve Rhodes and I went to the iconic St. Augustine Lighthouse in our nation's oldest port. It's stunning!

We packed light so we could carry the gear up the 219 steps. There are little platforms where you can take a moment to catch your breath as you're walking up to the top. There are also some fun facts you can read along the way such as: you'll burn about 24 calories walking up and about 11 calories on the way down.

Once you get to the top, you'll immediately see why it's worth burning the 35 calories. You'll see a 360 degree view of St. Augustine. You can see the old historic district and Flagler College from 145 feet above the ground. It's also a great vantage point to see the Matanzas Inlet/the Intracoastal Waterway. This isn’t the original lighthouse. The first lighthouse actually fell into the ocean. The lighthouse closes at 6 p.m. to the public. But get this, it's still a working lighthouse and guides boats and fisherman every single day. Some have also said the lighthouse is haunted. They do tours in the evenings on weekends called Dark of the Moon tours.

Kathy Catron, who does tourism for St. Augustine, told me two of the light-keepers' children died in the late 1900s, and volunteers have said they've heard children laughing and have even seen wet footprints the size of children's feet on the ground.

There are stories everywhere you look in St. Augustine. Take Flagler College, for instance...

The college is only 50 years old, but it's in the old Ponce de Leon Hotel, which is one of Florida's most beautiful properties. About 2,500 students attend Flagler. The school recently added coastal environmental science as a new major because they hope to train the next generation of north Floridians to keep them there and preserve the coast. But what stole the show for me at Flagler College was where the students eat. Their dining room is breathtaking! It's the hotel's original dining room complete with Tiffany glass windows! The chairs were replicated to look like the original dining room chairs.

One more thing I'd like to mention about St. Augustine that I thought was pretty cool is that they have something called the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). It's this program that basically studies shipwrecks!