Dennis MacDonald / Alamy

A European-inspired escape on the Atlantic Ocean.

February 21, 2012

St. Augustine, America’s oldest permanent European settlement, has a glamorous old-world patina. Eighteenth-century buildings and moss-draped oak trees set a romantic vibe, and historic forts and sites appeal to history buffs. Stroll through the Old Town arm-in-arm then hit the after dark scene, which picks up on the weekends.

Casa Monica Hotel

Moorish-style grandeur in an 1888 property once owned by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, who developed much of Florida’s eastern coast.

Colonial Spanish Quarter

In St. Augustine's Old Town, the city’s Mediterranean roots are most evident; take a time-warp stroll past the Castillo de San Marcos and the evocative Colonial Spanish Quarter.

Fountain of Youth

Take a pit stop at the hokey but endearing Fountain of Youth. Who knows if the free slug of water is better than Botox, but it’s great fun.

Columbia

With its bare brick walls, flickering candles, and bubbling fountain, Columbia looks like a cellar bistro in an old Spanish town. Order a classic Valencian paella or Cuban roast pork.

Castillo de San Marcos

Imposing 17th-century fort that makes a good jumping-off point for a walking tour of St. Augustine's 144-block historic downtown.

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