Signature City St. Augustine

Explore culturally vibrant St. Augustine with experts and learn the story of the nation’s oldest city through its architecture, monuments, Gilded Age works and a historic reenactment.
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 6642RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Bright and bold living history awaits you in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida — the oldest city in America. What began as a Spanish fortress has transformed over the centuries into a charming seaside town brimming with Spanish, British and Venetian Renaissance architecture. Local experts — some in period dress — spin gripping tales and present a dramatic overview of the city’s remarkable history. Meet a soldier at the Fountain of Youth to hear his stories, walk the sacred grounds of the Timucuan Indians and immerse yourself in the city’s unique Old World charm. Viva San Augustin!
Activity Level
On Your Feet
There is moderate amount of walking, stairs and standing on field trips.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Discover a unique tapestry of history through the shared passions of park rangers, authors, storytellers and historians — some in period dress!
  • Learn the legacy of Henry Flagler and his grand hotels, and admire Gilded Age works of Tiffany glass in historic buildings.
  • Enjoy an expert-led exploration of the Castillo de San Marcos, and see the Victorian era come alive at the Lightner Museum.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Kenneth Barrett
A native Floridian, Ken Barrett graduated from St. Joseph Academy and received degrees from Santa Fe Community College and the University of Florida. While associated with the National Park Service, Ken photographed parks in this region and organized their archives. A freelance photographer, Ken's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including, "The Houses of St. Augustine" and "Florida's Colonial Architectural Heritage." Ken is also a frequent exhibitor at Florida art shows.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image
Margaret Kaler
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Profile Image
James Bullock
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Profile Image
Kenneth Barrett
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Profile Image
Eddie-Joyce Geyer
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine
by Graham, Thomas
In the late 1800s, Henry Morrison Flagler walked away from Standard Oil, leaving the enormously successful company in the hands of John D. Rockefeller while he headed to Florida to pursue other interests. Flagler’s new venture would lead him to completely restructure the sleepy town of St. Augustine and transform Florida’s entire east coast. This monumental biography tells the story of how one of the wealthiest men in America spared no expense to turn the country’s “Oldest City” into a highly desirable vacation destination for the rich. Upon arrival, Flagler found accommodations in St. Augustine to be inferior, so he set out to build the opulent Ponce de Leon Hotel, and thus began his endeavor to attract wealthy travelers to the small southern city. He funded hospitals and churches and improved streets and parks. He constructed railroads in remote areas where men feared to tread and erected palatial hotels on swampland. The rich and famous flocked to Flagler’s invented paradise. And he had the vision to stretch his new railroad southward, establishing hotels and accommodations along the way. In tracing Flagler’s second career, Thomas Graham reveals much about the inner life of the former oil magnate and the demons that drove him to expand a coastal empire that eventually encompassed Palm Beach, Miami, Key West, and finally Nassau. Graham also gives voice to the individuals that history has forgotten: the women who wrote tourist books, the artists who decorated the hotels, the black servants who waited tables, and the journalists who penned society columns for the newspapers. Arguably no man did more to make over a city—or a state—than Flagler. Almost single-handedly, he transformed Florida from a remote frontier into the winter playground of America’s elite. Filled with fascinating details that bring the Gilded Age to life, Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine provides an authoritative look at an intriguing man and a captivating time in American history.
Anastasia Island: St. Augustine's Jewel by the Sea
by Barrett, Kenneth M.
Anastasia Island, St. Augustine's Jewel by the Sea, has played a major role in the history of America's Oldest European settlement. Native Indians inhabited these sandy shores long before the arrival of the first Spanish settlers in the 1500s. This up-to-date guidebook, illustrated with color photographs, takes visitors and residents to St. Augustine's beautiful beaches and the island's attractions, historic sites and parks. Just as light changes the landscape during the day, these photographs on Anastasia Island capture the ebb and flow of life along the ever-changing shoreline.
Indian Art of Ancient Florida
by Purdy, Barbara and Roy C. Craven Jr.
For thousands of years, the Indians of Florida created exquisite objects from the natural materials available to them--wood, bone, stone, clay, and shell. This stunning full-color book, the first devoted exclusively to the artistic achievements of the Florida aborigines, describes and pictures 116 of these masterpieces. A brief history of the consequences of European infiltration and later investigations by explorers and archaeologists sets the stage for consideration of the works themselves. They date from the Paleoindian period (ca. 9500-8000 BC) to the mid-16th century and include utilitarian creations, instruments of personal adornment and magic, objects indicating status, and those paying homage to ancestors or aiding the dead in their journey into the next world. Barbara A. Purdy is professor emerita in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida, curator emerita in archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and author of How to Do Archaeology the Right Way (UPF, 1996) and The Art and Archaeology of Florida’s Wetlands (1991). Roy C. Craven, Jr., is professor of art emeritus, founding director of the University Gallery at the University of Florida, and author of Ceremonial Centers of the Maya (UPF, 1974) and A Concise History of Indian Art (1991).
10 Towns That Changed America
by DVD
10 That Changed America offers three whirlwind tours of America’s architectural treasures: the 10 homes, 10 parks, and 10 towns that changed our country. Explore American houses through the ages, enjoy a lively history of landscape architecture and our most beloved parks, and discover the story of how we have planned our cities over time.
Shadows of the Past: Mysteries from Florida History
by DVD
Florida's rich and diverse history is well known. But there are some stories from the past that remain a mystery. Will these mysteries of Florida history ever be solved or are the answers to these stories lost in the shadows of the past?
The Houses of St. Augustine, 1565-1821
by Manucy, Albert
Albert Manucy's book continues to serve as a catalyst for architectural preservation in St. Augustine and to inspire similar works elsewhere. His sketches, which explain this colonial architecture, delight as much as they inform. "The book also serves as a gentle reminder to Yankees that Florida was civilized before the Puritans settled New England."--F. Blair Reeves, chairman, Historic Resource Committee, Florida Association/American Institute of Architects. As architecture documents history, The Houses of St. Augustine records architecture, preserving and interpreting the history of housing in the oldest city in the continental United States.
Oldest City: The History of St. Augustine
by St. Augustine Historical Society
Edited by Susan Richbourg Parker, Ph. D., the book tells the story of the city’s history beginning with the native tribes who were here before the arrival of the city’s founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, through the city’s first 450 years.
Secrets of Spanish Florida
by DVD
Murder & martyrdom in Spanish Florida: the true story behind the Guale Uprising; 55 years before the Pilgrims even arrived in Plymouth, the first true Thanksgiving was actually in St. Augustine; indentured servants escape from an infamous Florida plantation owner; a city born in storm, shipwreck and slaughter. These stories and more can be found on the PBS special as you uncover the Secrets of Spanish Florida. This program will be airing on December 17, 2019.
The History of Castillo de San Marcos
by Arana, Luis Rafael and Albert Manucy
This book incorporates all of the text and most of the illustrations from "The Building of the Castillo de San Marcos" by Luis Arana and Albert Manucy, published by Eastern National in 1977. We have enlarged the format, used larger type, added historical maps, historical photographs, modern color photographs, and some additional text.
New Oldest City
by Halbirt, Carl
Fort Mose: Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom
by Deagan, Kathleen A. and Darcie A. Macmahon
This book tells the story of Fort Mose and the people who lived there. It challenges the notion of the American black colonial experience as only that of slavery, offering instead a richer and more balanced view of the black experience in the Spanish colonies from the arrival of Columbus to the American Revolution.
A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions
by Hann, John H.
An extraordinary scholarly work that will immediately make everything else written about the Timucua and the Spanish mission system in La Florida out-of-date. “An intricate and detailed portrait of the Timucuan Indians during the European colonial era . . . will undoubtedly stand as the principal source regarding the land of the Timucua speakers for years to come."--John E. Worth, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta. When Spanish and French explorers first landed in Florida early in the 16th century, Timucua speakers occupied more land area and were more numerous than any other aboriginal group. This is their first detailed history, a major study that places its author in the forefront of Spanish colonial historians working in the United States.
Mullet on the Beach: The Minorcans of FLorida, 1768-1788
by Griffin, Patricia C.
In the history of St. Augustine, the story of the Minorcans, who still today exert tremendous political and social influence, rivals the drama of the Jamestown or Plymouth settlements. Patricia C. Griffin describes their first twenty years in the New World, including the hardship of their arrival in British East Florida in 1768, their starvation and suffering on an indigo plantation, and their revolt and flight to sanctuary in St. Augustine. There, survivors of this devastating experience pieced back together their Mediterranean heritage. In time, they became farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, mariners, and fishermen. Mullet on the beach, their freedom cry, signaled the emigrants release from plantation captivity. As the Floridas reverted to Spanish control and were later acquired by the United States, the Minorcans became the core population of St. Augustine, settling into a quarter next to the city gate and south of the old Spanish fort which is now known as the restored area. Griffin brings alive this remarkable colonial venture through her use of documentary sources, archaeological evidence, and topographical and climatic data. Students of Florida history and the Spanish borderlands, specialists in migration studies, ethnohistorians, and the general reader will value this solidly researched study of a folk communitys struggle and triumph in the New World.
Floridanos, Menorcans, Cattle Whip Crackers: Poetry of St. Augustine
by Masters, Ann Browning
Poetry from this collection has been published in anthologies and journals, read at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Annual Conference and Florida Literary Arts Coalition Conferences, recognized at the Florida Folk Festival, and recorded for the Florida State Historical Archives. Dr. Ann Browning Masters is a retired faculty member of St. Johns River State College. She continues to read from her work in the Eckerd College Road Scholar Program. In 2015 she was knighted by the Board of Directors of the Easter Festival Committee of St. Augustine for her dedication in promoting St. Augustine s Spanish heritage. A St. Augustine native, Dr. Masters is a 12th generation Floridian.

Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback