It's wonderful to travel to a historical city like St. Augustine, the old city that seamlessly fuses the past with the present. It's even better to travel to a city reinvigorated with elevated restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and water and sailing adventures. It's a city full of pirates, art, and stories still to be written.
I decided to go there last summer as a quick weekend getaway from Atlanta and was lucky enough to stay at the Historical Casa Monica Resort & Spa, which shines bright located near all of the action. Completely redone by Richard Kessler, with the Kessler Collection, the minute you walk through their massive entrance and into their colorful and grand fresco and fountain-filled lobby, you can't help but wonder if you've stepped back in time or to a more bohemian destination. Casa Monica Resort & Spa, a historical landmark built in 1888, is the perfect home base for getting around St. Augustine and soaking up the historical splendor. Owned by The Kessler Collection, it has been well preserved/restored and captures the classical and unconventional spirit of Bohemian cultures.
There is something for everyone in St. Augustine and The Casa Monica, from lounging by the cabana-lined poolside to taking in the architecture, or simply packing in as much as possible (as I did). Upon arrival, I couldn't wait to walk the cobblestone streets filled with historical attractions, some of the cutest shops I've ever been to, and the welcoming people. Some favorites I wandered upon were Cousteau's Waffle and Milkshake Bar and The Floridian for some incredible bites, 29 Olives for boutique shopping and The Poseidon Spa for the most heavenly treatments (get their Signature massage!). Be sure to ride the hop-on-hop-off trolley, and stop by the old fort, Castillo de San Marcos, a symbol of the clash between cultures which ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation.
You'll know you’re staying at a signature Kessler Collection gem like the Casa Monica Hotel when you're able to experience some of their local affiliations, such as The Sonesta Beach Club. Wanting to soak up the sun and the water for a little while on my second day, I was shuttled there from the hotel and personally escorted to a lounger and umbrella waiting for me a world away down on the pristine beach. Seems I just couldn't get enough of the water so I also booked a Sip and Sail adventure that day aboard the Semper Fi Catamaran. A most friendly captain and crew guided a tour of St. Augustine's historic waterfront, as I enjoyed sipping a cocktail on this exploration of the area discovered by Sir Francis Drake. My day rounded out nicely with a dinner at Casa Monica's Sultan Private Dining Room. I devoured a decadent four-course dining experience featuring freshly caught fish, lobster, fillet and more culinary mastery than I had ever tasted before.
My last day would be spent walking off some of the decadence I experienced the day before, and I headed to climb the 219 steps up the historic lighthouse to catch breathtaking views. I then wandered around the stunning Flagler College and was treated to a tour of their private museum featuring art masterpieces, stained glass and commissioned one-of-a-kind Tiffany lamps.