National Geographic names city Best of the World

Historic City News reporters learned that National Geographic has name St Augustine one of twenty “must see” places in the world for the coming year; travel editors of the magazine, which began publication in 1888, give a number of tips and thumbnail history of the area in their recommendation.

As Florida begins its year-long celebration of 500 years since the discovery of La Florida by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, the publication, which contains articles about geography, popular science, history, culture, current events, and photography, begins St Augustine’s induction into the “Best of the World 2013” by recognizing the Paleo-Indian civilizations settled here 12,000 years before.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Fort Mose Historic State Park also earned its way into St Augustine’s National Geographic designation. Although none of the structures still stand, the interpretive center tells the story of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. Escaped slaves from the British-controlled Carolinas found sanctuary here in the 1700’s and left for Cuba with the Spanish in 1763.

Before you travel to St Augustine, National Geographic recommends reading “Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians”, by Milanich Jerald (1999), details the little known history of the Apalachee, Guale, and Timucua Indians who built Spanish Florida’s missions, including St Augustine’s imposing Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Adam Graham, the travel editor writing the recommendation, cited “The Floridian” as a place to eat. He wrote that they “put a local, somewhat lighter twist on traditional Southern fare”. Farm-to-table favorites include blackened fresh fish atop a stuffed cornbread stack and chicken ‘n’ waffles topped with pickled peaches.

The St Francis Inn bed-and-breakfast in Saint Augustine’s brick-paved historic district and the comfortably elegant 1920’s oceanfront House of Sea and Sun, a Flagler heiress’ home turned bed-and-breakfast, got mentions for places to stay.

Graham suggests that Old Town Trolley is the “way to get around” the city because of their twenty-two hop-on and hop-off sightseeing stops and free shuttle to St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum on Anastasia Island.

In the National Geographic article, Graham observes that visitors to the city should check out St George Street landmarks like the 130-year-old Mill Top Tavern but avoid the “overly touristy and crowded tee-shirt emporiums and fudge shops”.

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