I’m not talking about a makeup, a magic pill or any sort of scientific antioxidants that will mysteriously firm your skin or remove wrinkles. I’m talking about the ACTUAL Fountain of Youth, discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon. The spring water in St. Augustine Florida that has been talked about for generations, depicted in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and tastes like summer at the beach. During our extended family beach vacation, my nuclear family of four was hosted with complimentary tickets to many historical attractions in St. Augustine Florida by the Visitor’s Bureau and by far, this was my favorite!
There is plenty of good parking at the Fountain of Youth, but arrive early during the summer months because it can get HOT. Here are my top five things to see at the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park!
The ACTUAL Fountain of Youth
Located in a cool stone building (built on top of the spring site), the fountain is monitored and protected from vandalism by a steel grate and a pretty stone mantel. When we entered, we were by far the youngest people in the group. One lady brought a 2 liter soda bottle to fill up water so she could have some every day! Another woman asked Red, “how old were you when you came in?!” He was mighty upset when he heard the water makes you “younger.” He didn’t want to turn into a baby again!
I can tell you personally that the water tastes exactly like natural Florida water… a hint of beach, and cool as the stone that surrounds it. You can see in the photo below that lady with the giant pitcher… she was going to FILL UP! There are excellent murals and curated exhibits in the same building that show the early history of the St. Augustine landing site and the spring here. I love history, so this was the spot for me! Plus… I think I look younger now, yes??
The First Mission of Nombre de Dios, 1587
In 1587, Franciscan friars constructed the first mission in the continental United States right here on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth. The actual location of the church was discover in the 30s by a gardener, and slowly the burial grounds revealed the Mission location. The current structure was built here using historical methods, and it’s wonderful! There’s even a place for the choir to sing! The beautiful wooden beans, planking and thatched roof are gorgeous inside. Step in and listen to the costumed monk!
Historical Weapons Demonstrations
There is a lot of living history on these 15 acres of land, and my favorite were the historical weapons demonstrations. I recorded a Facebook Live HERE and showed bow and arrow, crossbows, rifles and lastly the cannon. It is capable of shooting over a mile away, accurately! I missed the blacksmith working by a couple of minutes, but it was so HOT outside in September, I was glad to be away from the extra heat.
There are a ton of “little” outdoor exhibits like a real anchor, copper caldrons, weapons, etc that you will see when you walk the pathways through the 15 acres. The kids will love to see REAL items and grownups can read the small signs about the history before the kids lose interest and pop on to the next walkway. Plus, it’s all touchable!
The Lookout Tower
Near the cannons and the shoreline, you’ll see a beautifully constructed watch tower. This lookout tower helped the watchmen see threats earlier and you had to have eagle eyes to see! The spyglass hadn’t been invented yet. I read that a light, burning in the watchtower, accidentally alerted to Pirate Sir Francis Drake, who saw it and then sacked the town… it was ruined! Take all your kids up to the top of the lookout tower (read the posted signs for open hours and tours) to burn off some energy and see some great views!