Castillo de San Marcos National Monument#2 in Best Things To Do in St. Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos served as a fort for more than 205 years. Built between 1672 and 1695 by the Spanish, it protected the newly established territory of Spanish Florida from the British and pirates. It's the oldest masonry fortification in the U.S., as well as the only surviving 17th-century military site in the country. Additionally, it is one of only two forts in the world constructed from coquina, a semi-rare limestone composed of shell fragments. Though the Spanish maintained control of the Castillo de San Marcos for most of its military career, it was used by the British during the American Revolution and by Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War. The fort became a national monument in 1900.
According to recent travelers, the monument is a well-preserved and interesting piece of American history. To avoid the heat when visiting on a humid, sunny day, arrive when it opens (8:45 a.m.) or shortly before final admission at 5 p.m. Before you leave, stop to watch one of the cannon firing demonstrations that are offered multiple times a day.
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is located in the northern part of St. Augustine's historic city center near the Colonial Quarter. The easiest way to get to the fort is by trolley or on foot from downtown. No on-site parking is offered, but drivers can pay to park at the adjacent parking lot or the parking facility at the city visitor center, which sits within walking distance. The fort is open every day (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) between 8:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. The last visitors are admitted at 5 p.m.
Admission for adults 16 and older costs $10, while kids 15 and younger and visitors with National Parks Passes can enter for free. All tickets are valid for seven consecutive days. A recreation area, restrooms and a bookstore are also available at the monument. For more information about the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, check out the National Park Service's website.
More Best Things To Do in St. Augustine
#1 St. George Street
Antiquities, historic attractions and delectable cuisine are just a few of the things you'll find on St. George Street, the city's central pedestrian thoroughfare. At the northern end of the street, visitors can explore boutiques like Sunburst Crystal and Tillie's Bath Cottage, as well as historic sites like the Old City Gates and the Oldest Wooden School House. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum are within walking distance; as you travel south, you'll see additional shops and cafes, plus art galleries and the Colonial Quarter.
Visitors in search of Southern charm will appreciate St. George Street. According to past travelers, you'll find unique shops and some of the best ice cream in the area. The area is also a great spot to stop in some shops to pick up souvenirs.
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