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Celebrate the Season in St Augustine!

Updated on November 21, 2015
Glenda Motsavage profile image

Glenda has been a Florida Resident for 17 years and delights in publishing travel articles from her journeys throughout the South.

Historic Casa Monica - our romantic hotel
Historic Casa Monica - our romantic hotel

St Augustine in December - The Perfect Time of Year!

As Floridians, one cannot presumptuously expect cooler temperatures simply because we've flipped the page on our calendars to December. Grass is still green, flowers abundantly seen, palm trees remain queen, and yes… beach babes (lean and mean) still applying that coconut sunscreen! Sound like Christmas? Not exactly!

Okay, so we may be seasonally challenged, but annually my mind goes on a mission to somehow duplicate (or find a reasonable facsimile) of that 'Northern' Christmas spirit I took for granted for 42 years. I'm happy to report the lost has been found in a charming little Southern city called Saint Augustine.


Welcome to the First Coast

…the oldest city in our nation!

Located in Florida's northeast corner, and just 45 minutes south of Jacksonville, is our nation's oldest city - St. Augustine. It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish, and is also the oldest port in the continental United States.

The city's narrow cobblestone streets are best explored by foot. In fact, our car was valet-parked in our hotel for 4 days and we didn't need it until check-out. Self-guided and 'themed' walking tours abound; everything from notable historic sites to ghostly tales. The lodging of choice for many visitors is the plethora of charming bed and breakfast inns. And, of course, the Spanish Colonial Architecture is a photographers dream-come-true!

A markerThe Old City -
St Augustine, Florida
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Top 10 in the World!

St Augustine's 'Nights of Lights' was named by National Geographic as one of the Top 10 places in the world to see holiday lights!

Our premium romantic room in the Casa Monica hotel.  St. Augustine, Florida
Our premium romantic room in the Casa Monica hotel. St. Augustine, Florida

Historic Casa Monica Hotel

…romance revisited!

St. Augustine was the culmination of a 6-city trek celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We love the Florida coast anytime of year, but as the weather plummeted from the mid-eighties to high-sixties St. Augustine became even more charming.

Here, it was easy to lose ourselves in the history of the 'Old City' as we explored the enchanting, walkable neighborhoods. Our hotel, The Casa Monica, was within the quaint historic district and only a few blocks away from fabulous fine-dining options, beautiful Matanzas Bay, art galleries, nightlife, and sensational little shops all decked out for the Season.

Photo Tour - Opulant Casa Monica Hotel - Here, romance can blossom at any old time!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our premium room desk/work areaAdditional side entrance into Casa MonicaLuxurious bedding in every room at Casa MonicaCasa Monica lounge area all decked out for ChristmasCasa Monica's acclaimed restaurant - The Costa Brava (Formerly, 95 Cordova)Our premium room sitting areaHubby in the Casa Monica hotel lobby Additional hotel lobby/reception area Fine gilded gold leaf everywhere at Casa MonicaHotel main entranceCasa Monica clothed for Christmas in the hotel front desk and lobby areaBustling hotel lobby lounge - CobaltHotel pool at nightCasa Monica from a distanceHotel exterior - side entranceHotel lounge - CobaltYummy Casa Monica Cafe - Pastries, Starbucks Coffee, Sandwiches, etc.Hotel lobby area - All was calm and bright this pre-Christmas nightCasa Monica hotel vintage car - used for weddings and special occasions
Our premium room desk/work area
Our premium room desk/work area
Additional side entrance into Casa Monica
Additional side entrance into Casa Monica
Luxurious bedding in every room at Casa Monica
Luxurious bedding in every room at Casa Monica
Casa Monica lounge area all decked out for Christmas
Casa Monica lounge area all decked out for Christmas
Casa Monica's acclaimed restaurant - The Costa Brava (Formerly, 95 Cordova)
Casa Monica's acclaimed restaurant - The Costa Brava (Formerly, 95 Cordova)
Our premium room sitting area
Our premium room sitting area
Hubby in the Casa Monica hotel lobby
Hubby in the Casa Monica hotel lobby
Additional hotel lobby/reception area Fine gilded gold leaf everywhere at Casa Monica
Additional hotel lobby/reception area Fine gilded gold leaf everywhere at Casa Monica
Hotel main entrance
Hotel main entrance
Casa Monica clothed for Christmas in the hotel front desk and lobby area
Casa Monica clothed for Christmas in the hotel front desk and lobby area
Bustling hotel lobby lounge - Cobalt
Bustling hotel lobby lounge - Cobalt
Hotel pool at night
Hotel pool at night
Casa Monica from a distance
Casa Monica from a distance
Hotel exterior - side entrance
Hotel exterior - side entrance
Hotel lounge - Cobalt
Hotel lounge - Cobalt
Yummy Casa Monica Cafe - Pastries, Starbucks Coffee, Sandwiches, etc.
Yummy Casa Monica Cafe - Pastries, Starbucks Coffee, Sandwiches, etc.
Hotel lobby area - All was calm and bright this pre-Christmas night
Hotel lobby area - All was calm and bright this pre-Christmas night
Casa Monica hotel vintage car - used for weddings and special occasions
Casa Monica hotel vintage car - used for weddings and special occasions

Have you had the pleasure of visiting St. Augustine?

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Our horse-drawn carriage ride for the Vittles and Vino Tour
Our horse-drawn carriage ride for the Vittles and Vino Tour

Vittles and Vino VIP Carriage Tour!

Eat, Drink, and be Merry!

The Vittles and Vino VIP Carriage Tour is one of many tours offered by 'The Tasting Tours Company.' Hubby and I gave up drinking decades ago, but participated since this was gifted to us for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. For the 'Foodie' in your family, we would highly recommend this tour as a unique special occasion gift.

Our Tour Included:

3.5 hours of food and wine

5 food tasting venues (at 5 different restaurants in the historic district)

4 wine sample venues (including a wine tasting to begin the tour and a bottle to enjoy on the carriage ride or take home)

A fun and informative guided tour (Jennifer, our tour guide was the best! And our carriage driver was a wealth of knowledge regarding all the historical facts of the city)

This was a delightful way to spend our Saturday afternoon, and we were not hungry again until very late that night. No dinner was necessary!

Okay, so we didn't go dashing through the snow, but we were in a one-horse open carriage. And, after the second or third stop on the tour, we were most certainly laughing all the way! I don't remember any bells on bob-tails ringing… but they could have been, by then our spirits were very bright.

Tis the Season to be Jolly - Food, New Friends & Folly on our Tasting Tour!

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The Gifted Cork - our starting point with our new friends!The historic Cafe Alcazar - located in the Lightner Museum, our first course!Our appetizer at the Cafe Alcazar!The Floridian Restaurant - our third course!Innovative southern fare at The Floridian! (Fried green tomatoes & more!)Strawberry creme brulee for dessert!Aviles Restaurant at the historic bayfront Hilton!One final 'goodbye' to our new friends!Our take-home gift complete with 2 wine glasses!
The Gifted Cork - our starting point with our new friends!
The Gifted Cork - our starting point with our new friends!
The historic Cafe Alcazar - located in the Lightner Museum, our first course!
The historic Cafe Alcazar - located in the Lightner Museum, our first course!
Our appetizer at the Cafe Alcazar!
Our appetizer at the Cafe Alcazar!
The Floridian Restaurant - our third course!
The Floridian Restaurant - our third course!
Innovative southern fare at The Floridian! (Fried green tomatoes & more!)
Innovative southern fare at The Floridian! (Fried green tomatoes & more!)
Strawberry creme brulee for dessert!
Strawberry creme brulee for dessert!
Aviles Restaurant at the historic bayfront Hilton!
Aviles Restaurant at the historic bayfront Hilton!
One final 'goodbye' to our new friends!
One final 'goodbye' to our new friends!
Our take-home gift complete with 2 wine glasses!
Our take-home gift complete with 2 wine glasses!

The Tasting Tours

Ranked in the Top 20 Best Overall Food Tours in the U.S. by TripAdvisor

My Favorite Southern City for a Romantic Carriage Ride is...

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An outdoor display during the Annual Christmas Tour of Homes in St. Augustine, Florida
An outdoor display during the Annual Christmas Tour of Homes in St. Augustine, Florida

The 47th Annual Christmas Tour of Homes

Presented by The Garden Club of St. Augustine

One of my favorite things to do in any city is a 'Tour of Homes.' In St Augustine the Christmas Tour of Homes is an annual tradition that typically sells out - and this year was no exception. Tickets go on sale in early October, and it's best to purchase them well in advance, as we did.

Our tour included six private residences. Three of them were located in the Military District along the beautiful Matanzas River. We toured the homes of Major General Emmett Titshaw, Colonel Perry Hagaman, and Colonel Joseph Duren. Another highlight for me was the former Kirkside Estate, winter home of Henry Flagler. It was a special treat personally meeting the owners of each home who graciously paused for photos upon my request. Our tour concluded with Tea and Cookies, a Unique Boutique, and a Raffle at the Memorial Presbyterian Church, an historic landmark. Henry Flagler and several relatives were laid to rest in a mausoleum on the church grounds.

For five short hours Sunday afternoon I felt like I was 'home' for Christmas. Each home had their own version of snow, mistletoe, and presents under the tree. Okay… so I wasn't really home for Christmas - but I was in my dreams!

St Augustine Nights of Lights Annual Christmas Event

Don't Miss a Thing in St. Augustine! This Book is a Bargain at .99 Cents.

A Walking Tour of St. Augustine, Florida (Look Up, America!)
A Walking Tour of St. Augustine, Florida (Look Up, America!)

There is no better way to see St Augustine than on foot, like we did. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with this walking tour.

This walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to aid in your discovery. It's a bargain at .99 cents!

 

Image Credit

All photos in this article taken myself with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150

© 2012 Glenda Motsavage

© 2012 Glenda Motsavage

What's Your Favorite Southern City for the Holiday Season?

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    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @BodyHairRemoval: Fun indeed... and educational as well! Thanks so much for visiting St. Augustine today!

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      BodyHairRemoval 3 years ago

      Wow, it looks like a lot of fun.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @weddingplz lm: Yes, I love "Old World" ambiance like the Casa Monica Hotel. I'm already planning my next trip there! Thanks so much for visiting my lens today, and appreciate your comment.

    • weddingplz lm profile image

      weddingplz lm 3 years ago

      Historic Casa Monica Hotel is awesome

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @ConvenientCalendar: Wow...I'm wondering if it was Flagler??? - Incredibly gorgeous College Campus! But then again...I LOVED the whole city! Thank you for visiting!

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      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      Great lens! My sister went to college in St. Augustine!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @TheToyStore: I agree...St Augustine is gorgeous ANY time of the year! Thanks so much for visiting!

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      TheToyStore 4 years ago

      I do so love Florida and St. Augustine is beautiful! I would love to be there for any holiday!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @orange3 lm: I highly recommend it if you are ever in that area! Thanks so much for the visit!

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 4 years ago

      I would love to see St Augustine's Nights of Lights! It looks beautiful!

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      I too like to be home for Christmas, but we took the family to Mexico once for Thanksgiving and had a blast. Swam with sea turtles (not the one in my avatar! he's Hawaiian) on T-giving day & had flash-fried whole snapper in lieu of turkey. Incredible! St. Augustine's Night of Lights looks lovely!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Redneck Lady Luck: If I had the blessing of grandchildren I would do the same! Thanks for visiting St Augustine with me. And...the Angel blessing was so sweet of you!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I like to stay home for the holidays. Feet up, husband nearby, and my grandchildren advising me as to what they want for Christmas lol.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @aesta1: Oh yes...LOVE Siesta Key! Thanks so much for taking my virtual tour of St Augustine. It's always good seeing your smiling face on my lenses!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Orlando and Siesta Key where I had spent several holidays.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @choosehappy: Hope you enjoyed your virtual tour of Romantic St Augustine. We went in December, but it's sensational ANY time of the year...(Perhaps Valentine's Day???)! Thanks so much for the return visit - and, the SquidAngel blessing was so very sweet of you!

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      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Back with a blessing ;)

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @captainj88: Thanks Leah for taking my virtual tour of St Augustine. And may God give you the desires of your heart regarding the Casa Monica!

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      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I was in St. Augustine in 1996 when Hurricane Bertha blew through. My favorite memory? Playing put-put with my high school best friend and her family at Smuggler's Cove :D This is a beautiful place, rich with history. We enjoyed carriage rides and the tour of the early settlement. I'd love to stay at the Casa Monica sometime for a treat.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @srsddn lm: Thanks so much for stopping by my little corner of the world! Thanks also for the very kind words... and the squidlike. Have a wonderful and memorable New Year!

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 4 years ago

      A great lens with lovely photographs. I liked your intro too.

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      Ken McVay 4 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

      Happy New Year from Vancouver Island!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @RuralFloridaLiving: It's fast becoming one of my favorite Florida Getaways! Thanks so much for visiting and squidliking several of my lenses! Happy New Year!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @bisersmbg lm: Thanks so much for visiting several of my lenses. And, really appreciate the squidlikes. Happy New Year to you bisersmbg!

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      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      I love St. Augustine, Florida -- it's beautiful all year 'round. Even so, St. Augustine is absolutely gorgeous in December when it is aglow in lights.

    • bisersmbg lm profile image

      bisersmbg lm 4 years ago

      This is another best lens that I had ever read before I want you to visit my lens Voice of Mary please end give me you opinion if you d'like. Tnanks and Marry Crhistmas to you.

      m