Right off St. George Street in St. Augustine is the historic King Street. The street is packed with hidden gems that are rich with history as far as the eye can see.
One (not so) hidden gem is the Bridge of Lions. Completed in 1927, the Bridge of Lions connects downtown St. Augustine to Anastasia Island and is across Matanzas Bay. Roads & Bridges magazine ranked it fourth in the nation’s top 10 bridges for 2010. The bridge got its name from a pair of Medici lions made of marble that guard the bridge.
Treasury on the Plaza is another great place King Street has to offer. Opened in the same year as the Bridge of Lions, it served as a landmark bank on Cathedral Place before recently being converted into an event venue. The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The largest room can hold up to 450 people comfortably and the venue has different rooms that can be used for weddings, receptions or special events. The coolest part is that the old bank vault is now a full bar.
Another building that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places is the Villa Zorayda Museum. Built in 1883, the Villa has undergone many changes. Originally, the winter residence of Franklin Smith, until 1904, when it became the Zorayda Club. Two decades later, it became a hot spot for casino gambling, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the original museum opened. It features the priceless antique collections of both Franklin Smith and A.S. Mussallem, which includes oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artifacts.
After undergoing extensive remodeling, the Villa is open once again after being closed for eight years. According to the Villa, the 45 to 60 minute tour gives you an in-depth look at the historical significance of the building to the city of St. Augustine, the magnificent architecture, as well as descriptions of the many exquisite pieces you will see.
Another great place to visit is the San Sebastian Winery. Although it opened rather recently, in 1996, it has already made a name for itself in St. Augustine and is considered one of Florida’s premium wineries. Their labels have won many awards for excellence in winemaking, over 550 so far, which is an average of 29 awards a year. According to their website, complimentary winery tours and tastings are offered everyday.
They also have an 80-acre vineyard located in Clermont, Fla. Additionally, they have 450 acres in Florida’s panhandle and are contracted with several growers throughout the Southeast with approximately 200 acres under contract. A typical yield at maturity is six to seven tons of grapes per acre, or 160 gallons of wine per ton of grapes — approximately 5,000 bottles of wine per acre. Who’s thirsty?