By LARRY VAUGHT
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — When friends invited us to spend some time in St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, I knew we would have a good time just being with them.
However, after six days in this historic area, I already know I am coming back — again and again.
Here are a few of the highlights for me so far.
— I don’t know of any place with more restaurants who all seem fantastic because everyone you ask has a list of four or five favorite spots to eat — and none of the lists ever have duplicate names. I had the seafood combo at the Sunset Grill one night and the shrimp, scallops and more was amazing. Same for the salad and soup at Columbia restaurant and the shrimp tacos at the Back 40. It was also pretty unique eating at Cafe Alcazar at the Lightner Museum in a space that at one time was the world’s largest indoor swimming pool. Same for Kookaburra and the delicious Aussie pies we got there.
— Running is something I enjoy doing even as I continue to slow down. Getting to be one of almost 3,000 participants in the Pink Up The Pace 5K was fun but so is running on St. Augustine Beach. I know this is the “slow” time of year here, but it’s almost like you are alone running on the beach at times and that is refreshing for me.
— I’ve always wanted to go to the World Golf Hall of Fame and I finally got to make that a reality. I never expected to see so much space in the Hall of Fame devoted to Bob Hope, the comedian/actor who did so much to promote golf. I actually got to see him play once at Bright Leaf Golf Resort in Harrodsburg with former Kentucky Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler. I enjoyed seeing all the exhibits detailing golf’s history — especially the old clubs — and reading bios of all the Hall of Famers. There were some interactive exhibits, too, and for a guy who no longer plays golf but still loves watching, it was a fun two hours.
— Whetstone Chocolate is a terrific story of a small business that became huge nationally but stuck to its idea of having a healthier product and eventually gave up contracts with folks like Disney World to open a smaller operation here. We took the tasting tour and got to enjoy six different chocolates while seeing the chocolate-making operation. Obviously, spent a few dollars buying goodies after the tour but this is something I think any chocolate lover would really enjoy — including those my age finding out about those delicious chocolate Easter Bunny treats we grew up eating.
— Lightner Museum is located where the Alcazar Hotel (built in 1888) was before it closed during the Depression and Otto Lightner bought the facility in 1948. It is filled with so many treasures from art from Italy and France to furniture over 100 years old to magnificent glass ware. I actually enjoyed the collection of toasters going back 100 years and all the shells that were being showcased. On a rainy afternoon, it was a perfect way to connect with history and take a leisurely look at some magnificent antiques.
And the best news is that there is so much more to do in the next six days. There will be both a Greek festival and Blues festival this weekend. There’s another 5K Saturday. A boat ride is still possible and we definitely will visit the Fountain of Youth and the Castillo de San Marcos, the largest masonry fort in the continental U.S. No way I am coming back to Kentucky without visiting the Alligator Farm — and more beach time and seafood eating remain a priority.