Lakeland &
St. Augustine, Florida

2011 Thanksgiving week family vacation to Northeast and East Central Florida including visits to St. Augustine, Universal and Cirque du Soleil.

Page 1 St. Augustine
Page 2 Universal
Page 3 Downtown Disney

Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine, Florida
Lake Mirror Christmas lights - Lakeland, Florida
Lake Mirror - Lakeland, Florida

Saturday ­ day 1 

Today was the first day of our Thanksgiving Holiday trip and Mary, Linda & I flew American Airlines into Tampa Florida. The connecting flight out of Dallas was late getting away and we were late arriving. The woman at the rental car booth gave us the wrong directions on our way out of the garage and those directions cost us over an hour of additional driving time. 

Finally headed west from Tampa on I-4, we stopped for supper at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille in Lakeland, Florida. As we were finding a place to park nearby, we found Lake Mirror, which had lovely Christmas light displays around its edges and in the middle.

Lakeland is one of 5 locations for the chain of New Orleans style restaurants. I very much enjoyed the fried green tomatoes and the fried oysters.

Fried green tomatoes - Harry's Seafood Bar and Grill
Fried green tomatoes

The time lost during the flight and when we were misdirected at the airport hurt now as we continued northwest through Orlando and on up the coast. It was nearly midnight when we arrived at the Best Western Palm Coast. At least it was a nice little hotel. I would definitely stay there again.

Sunday ­ day 2

After breakfast at the motel. we drove the few miles east to the coast and turned north on Highway 1A. Our first stop was at Fort Matanzas National Monument, a stone fort built by the Spanish in 1740. Normally there are free ferry rides across the Matanzas Inlet to the fort, but the ferry was down for maintenance and I had to settle for a couple of photographs with a long lens from the shore near the visitor's center.

Fort Matanzas National Monument  - St. Augustine, Florida
Fort Matanzas National Monument and cannons  (prints of this photo for sale)

We continued north up Highway 1A, being delayed a bit by runners in the St. Augustine Marathon.

Our next stop was at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum where we toured the grounds and climbed up the 219 steps to the top of the tower. The present tower was built in the 1870s and adult admission is $9.50. Admission includes a small maritime museum in the restored adjacent brick light keeper's house.

St. Augustine Lighthouse - St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine Lighthouse

Mary and Linda

My camera malfunctioned while we were in the lighthouse and Mary let me borrow her camera to take the photo below.

St. Augustine Port, Florida
St. Augustine Port & Waterway with Francis and Mary Usina Bridge

Still contending with the St. Augustine Marathon, we drove across the Bridge of Lions to downtown St. Augustine. The marathon concluded right where we wanted to drive and park, but we drove through the historic district and found parking not too far away from the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

I had long wanted to visit the star shaped stone fort which was constructed in the 1670s. The main structure is rather small, with outlying walls which enlarge its profile.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument - St. Augustine, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

artillery battery at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida
The artillery battery at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (prints of this photo for sale)

St. Augustine Lighthouse tower in the distance (prints of this photo for sale)

Bridge of Lions - St. Augstine, Florida
The Bridge of Lions opening to allow boats to pass

Before leaving the city's historic center, we walked along St. George Street with its interesting homes from various periods. Most of these homes are reconstructions of buildings which burned or were torn down, but a few are original. Many of the buildings have plaques telling the history of the original building and when it was reconstructed. We enjoyed visiting the shops and the 220 year old Cathedral Basilica. 

We had lunch at Sangrias Wine and Tapas Bistro on the second floor of one of the St. George Street buildings. The sangria was very good and we enjoyed splitting several of the Tapas dishes: cheese & fruit platter, Buffalo mozzarella caprese, grilled shrimp, and Spanish beef. 

buffalo mozzarella caprese and grilled shrimp at Sangrias Wine and Tapas Bistro
Buffalo mozzarella caprese ($11.50) and grilled shrimp ($16)

St. George's Street - St. Augustine, Florida
View of St. George's Street from Sangrias Wine and Tapas Bistro

Cathedral Basilica - St. Augustine, Florida
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine

Cathedral Basilica sanctuary - St. Augutine, Florida
Cathedral Basilica sanctuary

In the early evening we drove back south to Lake Buena Vista to join more of our family at Sheraton Vistana Resort. The area was quite congested and appears to have only chain restaurants, so we had dinner at the Landry's Seafood House a few blocks away.

Page 2 Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

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copyright 2011-2012 by Keith Stokes.