Hello and welcome aboard!! This weekly column is dedicated to travelers and dreamers in search of adventure. 

If you will allow me to reminisce for just a bit, I’d love to tell you about my hometown of St. Augustine, Florida.  It is the oldest settlement in the continental U.S., dating back to 1565.  Founded by Spanish explorers, it was eventually designated in 1821 as the capital of the “Florida Territory”, and the state of Florida was finally admitted into the Union in 1845.

As a kid, I spent many an hour down at the beach, and the pier, and playing in the old Spanish fort that once protected early settlers from the British invasions.  That fort was built in 1695 and when the British troops couldn’t take it over, they burned St. Augustine to the ground. 

The famous Spanish tiled rooftops seen around St. Augustine are due to Mr. Henry Flagler.  Back in the 1800s he spent a lot of time there and later developed numerous hotels and railroads, making St. Augustine a winter resort for Americans from the north.  Two of Flagler’s famous and ornate hotels are the Ponce de Leon and the Hotel Alcazar.  St. Augustine is connected to Palm Beach and Miami as a direct result of Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad.  This allowed tourists to travel further south for their annual summer vacations.  Many came to St. Augustine to experience the magical waters from Ponce de Leon’s “Fountain of Youth”.  The waters are still a famous attraction today, along with the beautiful cathedrals and the horse drawn carriages.  You’ll hear a great deal about the wonderful history as you enjoy your carriage ride.

On each trip home to St. Augustine, I usually re-visit the old Hotel Alcazar, now home to the Lightner Museum of Hobbies.  My wife Brenda gets a little squeamish at the alligator farm, but we love Potter’s Wax Museum, the old Bridge of Lions, the art museums, and the historic Castle Ottis.  Be sure to stop by the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse and the Marine land.  My “travel tip 101” would be that you’re apt to experience a brief afternoon rain in St. Augustine, as the Bermuda High tends to bring in tropical air from the gulf and the Bahamas.  Now that I’m officially homesick, we’ll need to make plans for another trip to beautiful, historic, St. Augustine.  Why not turn your bucket list into reality?  Your getaway in St. Augustine is waiting!

For further information view www.CruisePlannersJeffFudge.com or call 501-589-2249.  Jeff and Brenda Fudge are local business owners, and members of the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce. You may submit questions to the “Q&A” at jeff.fudge@cruiseplanners.com.