Founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Fla. is the oldest continually occupied city in the United States. Though history is important here, the city offers plenty to entertain its present-day visitors. With attractions that combine fun and education, St. Augustine makes an ideal destination for families.
We surfed the Web to find the top five picks for your family vacation itinerary.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm
This attraction is home to more than 1,000 reptiles, including albino alligators from Louisiana and a saltwater crocodile from Australia. In fact, all 23 species of the crocodilian family are on exhibit at the alligator farm, founded in 1893. Visitors can also see ducks, vultures, herons and parrots at the zoo, which has one of the largest natural bird rookeries in the state of Florida.
Admission to the park is $19.95 for adults and ages 12 and up and $10.95 for kids ages 5 to 11. Call 904-824-3337 or visit www.alligatorfarm.us.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The view from the observation deck of this working lighthouse includes both surrounding beaches and the city of St. Augustine. The top of the lighthouse, which was completed in 1874, is 165 feet above sea level. At the lighthouse museum, visitors can find out about the lives of lighthouse keepers and their families and learn about how the lighthouse was restored.
Admission to the tower and museum is $7.75 for adults, $6.75 for senior citizens and $5 for children ages 6 to 11. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Call 904-829-0745 or visit www.staugustinelighthouse.com.
The narrow streets of this 11-block area, which is now open only to pedestrians, give visitors a feel for St. Augustine in the 1700s. Many of the Spanish Colonial buildings in the district now house shops that offer arts and antiques. At the Colonial Spanish Quarter living history museum, people dressed in 1740s costumes demonstrate blacksmithing, spinning and woodworking.
There is no charge for exploring the streets of the Historic District. Admission to the Colonial Spanish Quarter museum is $6.89 for adults, $5.82 for senior citizens and $4.24 for ages 6 to 18. Call 904-825-6830 or visit www.historicaugustine.com.
Fountain of Youth Park
In 1513, the explorer Don Juan Ponce de Leon landed at this site, in what would become St. Augustine, and took possession of the land on behalf of Spain.
Today, visitors to the park can learn more about Ponce de Leon and his group of explorers, as well as about the Indians who once lived in this area. Exhibits document the interaction between the explorers and Indians. Visitors can also drink from the park's spring, which is known as the Fountain of Youth.
Admission to the park is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for senior citizens and $3 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under 6 are admitted free. Call 1-800-356-8222 or visit www.fountainofyouthflorida.com.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
This fort, built by the Spanish to protect the land they had claimed in North America, was never defeated in battle. Today at the fort, re-enactors give demonstrations on weapons of the past and talk about what life was like for the colonists in this area.
Construction of the Castillo began in 1672. It is the oldest and only remaining 17th-century fort in the United States.
The entrance fee to the park is $6 for adults and ages 16 and up and is valid for seven days. Children ages 15 and under are admitted free, but must be accompanied by an adult. The fee for parking is 50 cents an hour. Call 904-829-6506, ext. 227 or visit www.nps.gov/casa.