Saturday, August 10, 2013

Believe it or Not! in Saint Augustine

Here’s What We Did:

Hi, everybody! It's Andrea and Steve. This trip began as an optimistically quick family get away. The plan was for us to leave Georgia on a Wednesday and returning on Friday. Yep, a really short trip. It was a long drive, but it was adventurous to just go for it.


Who: Two adults, three children
Where: Atlanta, Georgia – St. Augustine, Florida – Atlanta, Georgia
When:  Third week in June
How Long:  3 days, 2 nights
Transportation:  Driving
Maximum All-Inclusive Budget: $1000
Special Purchases and Events: Christmas ornaments, visits with friends, silver charms for bracelets

Day Plans:

Day 1: Atlanta, GA to St. Augustine, FL
Breakfast: At home
Lunch: Picnic in car
Dinner: Aunt Kate's Restaurant in St. Augustine
Hotel: Days Inn, Downtown, St. Augustine
*Take your hot-spot. The wi-fi was spotty, but to be fair, so was our hot-spot.

Day 2: St. Augustine, FL
Breakfast: Denny's at the Days Inn
Special 1: Fountain of Youth
Special 2: The original Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
Lunch: Casa Santa Monica
Dessert: Claude's
Special 3: Castillo de San Marcos Fort
Special 4: Souvenir hunting in the old town
Dinner: The Back 40
Hotel: Days Inn, Downtown, St. Augustine

Day 3:  St. Augustine, FL to Atlanta, GA
Brunch: Chick-Fil-A
Late Lunch: Picnic in car
Dinner: Home
Hotel: none

Bottom Line:

We loved the Casa Monica. We've both stayed at the hotel here without the kids, and we knew going in it's not exactly budget friendly. When we win the lotto, we're going to stay in one of the towers for an extended stay at the beach. But for this trip, a light lunch was plenty. As a highly recognizable St. Augustine landmark, the children needed to at least see the place. The architecture is snazzy, and it leaves with you a lovely idea of what the historical St. Augustine is supposed to be all about. If you want to just drop in and walk through the hotel, it's worth it if you are in the area. The beautiful Flagler University is to the right, across the lovely square in front of the hotel. We chose to stop at the hotel restaurant. We ordered a charcuterie plate and light appetizers before heading over for decadent dessert at Claude's.

And we love Claude's! The people there couldn't be nicer. If you are a wine connoisseur, we recommend you skip that section at the front of the store and head on back to chocolates. If, "wine is a wine is a wine to you," then help yourself to the tastings. But really. The glory of the Claude's is in the desserts. The beautifully decorated treasures of tasty heaven do not pale by comparison to any of the best chocolate in the world. If chocolate's not your thing, they have the more mundane alternatives, including mass produced ice cream novelties. But seriously. Try the chocolate.

We also loved the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum. We know there are a lot of these all around the country. We've been to our fair share of them. But this is the original. And the kids loved it, albeit they were a little grossed out at times. I think the Cannibal Fork sparked the most disturbing discussion the kids had later in the car. Since strange but true things are all the rage in our household, I had to practically drag the kids to the gift shop. They just didn't want to leave.

The Back 40 – What a surprising little restaurant. Great value on the tacos during Happy Hour, and they have an interesting selection. We shared the jerk chicken and shrimp. We overate. I admit it. It was a good place for adults and children, though it didn't cater to the baser trappings of a kid-friendly restaurant. We really like to dine with the children, not just ignore them while they entertain themselves with toys and kids' menus, etc. This little café welcomed the children, but there was no bombardment of brightly colored plastic condescension. So, this was a great place to actually dine with children - not just feed them. The Back 40 was very laid back, and it had relatively private dining. It's in a converted house, so parking is around back. The seating was spacious, the food was creative but not so creative that the kids couldn't eat, and the waitstaff were super nice and attentive.

The Numbers:

Our spreadsheet of what we bought, where, and how much it was. This includes everything from gas to souvenirs to hotels, meals, and replacing lost iPhone chargers. (Coming soon.)





Happy Travels!

Andrea and Steve

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