9 Real Town Centers Worth Visiting In The First Coast

February 9, 2015 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Here are nine authentic neighborhood town centers outside of downtown that prove there's more to Jacksonville and the First Coast than the typical suburban shopping mall.

1. St Augustine Historic District

Neighborhood: City of St. Augustine

The city of St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Over the years, St. Augustine would be under continually changing leadership. In 1586, attacks began for an English rule, instigated by Sir Francis Drake. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 would give S. Augustine back to the British. It wouldn’t last long though, because by 1784, Spanish rule was back in St. Augustine until 1821, when the US would gain control.

Many of the Spanish Colonial era buildings still existed in the city, including the fortress Castillo de San Marco. This fort had been successful in repelling British attacks in the 18th century, served as a prison for native Americans in the130s, and was occupied by union troops in the American Civil War.

In the late 19th century, Henry Flagler would bring his railroad  and lavish hotels to St. Augustine. The city quickly became a winter getaway for many of the wealthy during this time. Many mansions and grand hotels were built. Some of these are still in existence today, while others have been converted into museums and other uses. With its distinct historical character, St. Augustine is Northeast Florida's premier pedestrian scale tourist destination.

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Article by Kristen Pickrell

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