Category Archives: FL


5 Educational Experiences in St. Augustine, Florida

5 Educational Experiences in St. AugustineSt.-Augustine-educational-experience

St. Augustine, Florida is full of history. In fact, it is the longest inhabited European-founded city in the United States. It’s hard to avoid history on the sunny, narrow streets throughout St. Augustine. Places to stay are tucked throughout the city among the abundant Native, African, Greek, English, Spanish and Minorcan influences.  There is so much to learn about this confluence of new and old while on your St. Augustine vacation, here are 5 educational experiences worth checking into during your visit.

Lightner Museum: Formerly Hotel Alcazar, the Lightner Museum was built in 1887 and designed by the same architects who later went on to design the New York Public Library and the U.S. Senate office building. Its three floors hold exhibits from America’s Gilded Age and relics of daily life in the 19th century. The collection also includes stuffed birds, a small Egyptian mummy, model steam engines and a music room.

Old Town Trolley Tours: For over 30 years, this tour company has provided St. Augustine with sightseeing tours throughout the city. Narrated as you go, there is a mix of fact and trivia, as well as fun stories as the trolley winds its way through the nation’s oldest city. Among several tours available, including sightseeing and ghost tours, a perk is being able to hop on and off the bus to explore on your own time.

Castillo de San Marcos: Tour the grounds of the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States that dates back to 1672. The fort has seen its share of sieges and use including as a prison for Native Americans and later for Confederate soldiers. Visitors can tour the bastion and watch cannon firings along with historical re-enactments throughout the year.

Crisp-Ellert Art Museum: Venture over to Hogwarts Flagler College to experience the school’s Art Museum which offers an opportunity to view contemporary art in rotating art exhibitions. The exhibits feature artists from the area as well as international artists and hosts various programs like artist talks, readings, a film series and panel discussions.

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park: This location is the actual site of the first settlement area in the nation’s oldest city. The park offers both indoor and outdoor activities and exhibits to explore. From living history interpreters in a replica of Seloy, a Timucua Village that existed for a 1,000 years, to Spanish cannon demonstrations and a river walk that extends into a salt marsh. This is a place to spend the day with your whole family.

Destin: A Shopping Guide to Florida’s Emerald Coast

destin-things-to-doSo you’re in Destin, Florida with 3.6 million of your closest friends. You booked a Destin vacation beach getaway in an area U.S. News & World Report ranked as one of the top 5 beaches in Florida. But you’re burnt to a crisp from the sun bouncing off the beautiful white sands lining the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe you dropped your sunglasses while wrangling the biggest fish anyone has ever seen. Sure, we believe you. After all, tucked along the Emerald Coast, Destin is known as the world’s luckiest fishing village. Take a break from your sun-soaked sandy paradise or go look for new glasses and head to some of the many shops this destination vacation hot-spot has to offer.

Waterfront Shopping at Destin Harbor: Destin Harbor is historically known as the heart of the area and a gathering place for celebrations and daily activities. Centrally located near countless Destin vacation rentals and along the water, the boardwalk is dotted with unique stores like Kitty Hawk Kites, upscale boutiques, restaurants, as well as booths to book a number of activities. The area is home to Florida’s largest charter fishing fleet, so there’s plenty of fresh seafood or options to catch your own. From morning to night, the boardwalk is a constant buzz of life and entertainment. And with free parking, it’s easy to access and allow yourself to get lost exploring the area.

Between dolphin cruises, charter fishing, boat rentals, and the countless festivals taking place year-round on the Destin Boardwalk, there is never a dull moment amidst activities or entertainment while popping in and out of the shops.

Head to Destin Commons for over 90 stores: Located outside and centered around a tiered fountain, Destin Commons features all the name-brand stores and more. Voted ‘Best Place to Shop,’ by Emerald Coast Magazine readers, the open-air mall features more than 90 stores and dining options. From Aldo and Earthbound Trading Company to BassPro and Books-a-Million, a wide range of shopping for any taste is available. Lucky with the fish but not with the weather? Head to AMC Destin, a 14-screen movie theatre with stadium seating, to wait out the rain. Have a restless child? Swing by the soft playground or interactive water fountain. Have a restless spouse? Drop them off at the new World of Beer.

Or maybe you all need a change of scene from retail therapy? Take a tour on the miniature train that offers a trip down South Street and Center Plaza for $4. The commons also has free Wi-Fi.

The county offers access to Destin Commons from a number of areas via a drop-off and pick-up service on the Okaloosa County Transit Shuttle. Call (850) 833-9168 for more details.

Buy local, be local

Destin Harbor Farmer’s Market: Just about a year old, the year-round farmers’ market is open every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. You’ll find everything from gourmet olive oils, grass fed beef, fruits, hot sauces and popsicles to handmade goods. There are also vendors with food inspired from around the world.

Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village: Check their website before you go, but the MKAF hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year including the annual Festival of the Arts, where you can pick up some unique pieces while supporting local artists.

Harbor Docks: Whether you’re looking for a bite to eat or some fresh seafood to bring back to your rental after a day shopping, Harbor Docks Seafood Market are advocates for buying local and getting the fish you pay for. In operation since 1981, Harbor Docks plays a key role in supplying quality, guaranteed fresh seafood locally and internationally while supporting the local fishing industry.

The Honey Pot & The Honey Pot Cafe: Not only are they the owners of the café serving breakfast and lunch, but the father and son team are bee keepers who produce 100% treatment-free Destin honey for products that include soap, candles and skin care.

Scenic Highway 30A: Destin is centrally located to the beaches, harbor access, along with Scenic Highway 30A, a stretch of nearly 30 miles that hugs the Gulf of Mexico coastline. A drive down 30A east from Destin reveals art galleries and unique, locally-owned businesses that dot the landscape.

Want to tap into the community a little more and see what’s going on with those who call Destin home? Visit the Destin area Chamber of Commerce community calendar