Tag Archives: florida

Things To Do (& Eat!) In St. Augustine, FL

A few days ago I shared about our camping trip in St. Augustine. Anastasia State Park was great, but it wasn’t the only thing we saw in St. Augustine!

Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

There were several fun things we got to do in our day & a half in St. Augustine. This list is solely based off of our most recent trip; no one is paying me to promote their thing. I just wanted to share what my husband & I enjoyed doing in the oldest city in America.

Old City Helicopter Tour

Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My birthday gift to my husband was a helicopter ride! Old City Helicopters offers a few different packages & routes. I got a good deal on Groupon for the Porpoise Point & Old Downtown tour. It was amazing! My husband was so thrilled. He says it’s the coolest thing he’s ever done.

Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I did good!

Castillo De San Marcos

Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

 It’s a Florida tradition for 4th grade classes to go on a field trip to St. Augustine (see the two 4th graders in the picture?). I didn’t go on my 4th grade field trip, but I have been to St. Augustine & to this fort before. It’s pretty cool & definitely worth checking out. What we most enjoyed was the canon demonstration they do ever hour. The reenactors portray Spanish soldiers & do the whole thing in Spanish. It’s really neat! I think it’s really interesting how this fort (& the whole city, really) changed hands from the Spanish to the British & then back to the Spanish. The exhibits at Castillo De San Marcos really teach you something!
Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Historic Distric

My husband & I didn’t do too much in the historic district on this trip since we’ve both been here before, but it is worth checking out. There are lots of things to check out, such as the oldest wooden schoolhouse. There are also several shops & restaurants, plus it’s a nice walk (the buildings provide some much appreciated shade!)

Oldest Store Museum Tour

My husband wanted to go see the old jail, & when we went to buy tickets there was a special price if you purchased both the old jail & the oldest store museum tour. We said sure, why not. I am so glad we did! The oldest store museum was one of my favorite things from the whole trip! It’s a guided tour & the actors are amazing. The first one portrays a ‘snake oil’ salesman & offers all kinds of curios from the early 1900’s. The second actor shows you the storage area where the ‘new shipments’ came in – such as a goat powered washing machine! I want one! We were laughing the whole time, it was a lot of fun!

Old Jail

After we finished the oldest store museum tour, we did the old jail tour. This jail is unique because it’s actually quite pretty from the outside. When the Ponce De Leon hotel was built in flourishing St. Augustine, the local jail was too close for Henry Flagler’s comfort. So he had it moved & insisted that it not look like a jail from the outside. What’s also interesting is that the sheriff’s house was built not only adjacent to the jail – but connected to it! This tour was pretty fun, too, & describes how the jail was run back in the day.

Spanish Military Hospital Museum

This museum tour isn’t for the faint of heart. The Spanish Military Hospital Museum has all kinds of medical tools & medicines on display from the second Spanish period (late 1700’s to early 1800’s). The tour guide describes in great detail things like taking out bullets, amputating limbs, & removing teeth – all without anesthesia! We thought it was super interesting, but there definitely are some stomach turning moments! The Spanish were way more advanced in medicine than the British & had all kinds of home remedies that Hispanic people still use today! The tour guide was describing how they used things like calendula, lavender, & cloves medicinally & I was like, “oh yes, I know this. My mom taught me!”

Flagler College

Flagler College is a small liberal arts school that was once an extravagant hotel. It’s a fully functioning college campus, but they still offer historical tours. We didn’t do a tour, but we walked inside & marveled at the beautiful architecture & design. I think it’s interesting that St. Augustine has a couple of places that used to be hotels & are now something else – usually it’s the reverse!

Things To Do In St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Mission Nombre De Dios


In past trips to St. Augustine I had never even heard of this mission being here, but I am so glad we checked it out this time! This mission goes all the way back to the 1500’s. My husband & I are not Catholic, but the history & reverence at the mission & shrine were really intriguing. This is another location that was used by the Spanish, the British, & then the Spanish again. I find that extremely interesting since the British were not Catholic, but still preserved this area & used it as a holy place themselves. I, personally, really appreciate the emphasis on mothers & the unborn. The mission also has an archaeological excavation program with the University of Florida (go Gators!) as a collaborative project with the Florida Museum of Natural History & other organizations. My husband was most impressed by the old tombs from the 1800s. It is definitely worth taking a stroll through these grounds.

There are many more attractions that we didn’t get to, such as the lighthouse or the Colonial District. We did most of these things on a Friday; Saturday everything was considerably busier!

Places To Eat

We ate at some pretty yummy places while we were here!

Burger Buckets: This place has some really incredible burgers! I had the Hawaiian & my husband had the Bite of Fire: pepper sauce, ghost pepper cheese, & jalapeños! Both were really tasty with fries, corn nuggets, & a milkshake on the side. Our lunch gave us all the energy we needed to walk around the rest of the day.

Harry’s: It was my husband’s birthday weekend, so to celebrate we went to Harry’s Friday night. I’ve been to the one in Gainesville before, so I knew my hubby would like it. We took our server’s recommendation & ordered the following (descriptions taken straight from their website): Shrimp & Scallop Orleans -lightly blackened over a crispy grit cake with tasso ham cream sauce and Harry’s collard greens, & Crab Crusted Red Fish Royale – blackened red fish topped with crab meat served with corn maque choux, smashed potatoes and finished with our louisiana beurre blanc. If your mouth isn’t watering, then there’s nothing I can do to help you.

Borrillo’s Pizza & Subs: This place has some really good NY style pizza. The slices are huge & the prices are low!

Luli’s Cupcakes: This bakery is right next to the pizza place, so of course we had to stop in for dessert! They have a very wide selection & do both standard sized & mini cupcakes. We grabbed a couple of mini cupcakes for the road, as well as a frosting shot – which is EXACTLY what it sounds like! What a genius idea! If I ever open a bakery, I want to do something similar!

We had a great time in St. Augustine & we didn’t even get to half of what the city has to offer. I think a repeat trip is definitely in order, perhaps with our own 4th grader some day (if not before then)!


Camping In St. Augustine, FL

Last weekend I went camping for the first time ever!

Camping in St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

It was my husband’s birthday, so we decided to get away from it all  & go camping in Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, FL.

The campsites there have water, electricity, & bath houses. We were hardly going to be ‘roughing it’, so I knew I could handle it.

My husband has had many camping experiences throughout his life, so he has tons of knowledge on what to do & what to bring. I looked up camping on Pinterest. So between the two of us we came up with our list of supplies.

He let me plan the food – more on that later!

Camping in St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Holy moly I did not know you had to bring so much stuff! I mean, it all makes sense, I just had no frame of reference – I had never done this!

Thankfully, I have a Jeep 🙂

Camping in St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I was a little worried when we first got to our campsite. As soon as I opened the car door I got bit by TWO mosquitoes. I am a mosquito magnet – I got that sweet blood (probably from all the desserts).

Once we sprayed ourselves with bug spray & set up the mosquito tent, we were fine.

Camping in St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Camping in St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

The mosquito tent took longer than the sleeping tent to put together – but it was SO worth it!

I feel obligated to mention that while St. Augustine is in North Florida, it’s still Florida. Meaning that even though it’s almost November, it’s still decently humid outside & there are still bugs around. Sure, the temperature has dropped from the 90s to the low 80s/high 70s, but the air still has quite a bit of moisture in it. I have been reading all these other blogs about crisp autumn air & leaves changing colors – none of that here! On the plus side, I got to walk around in a tank top in late October (though I did get a little too much sun our last day there & am a bit red as a result).

Our trip wasn’t very long, just Thursday to Saturday. Thursday night we stayed in the park & just enjoyed the great outdoors. Anastasia St. Park is beautiful! We decided to take a leisurely stroll through the nature trail about an hour before sunset. That was probably not the best idea. The mosquitoes I mentioned earlier were swarming us! They didn’t bite because we had on some really good bug spray, but it was bothersome enough to turn our leisurely stroll into a brisk walk. The good thing was we worked up an appetite, so we got to work making dinner once we got back to the campsite. Cooking outside somewhere other than the backyard is fun! We had our dinner, drank some wine, & had marshmallows by the fire.

Camping in St. Augustine, FL - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Since the campsite had electricity, we brought one of those box fans with us. The nights were chilly, but the fan was nice to circulate the air inside the tent.

Friday morning I woke up & realized I had survived my first night sleeping outside! The only momentary panic ensued when my husband went to the bathroom around 7AM & I definitely heard something roaming around outside our tent. I didn’t think it through when I sleepily told him to go ahead without me because I wanted to sleep a little more. I was wide awake after that! I’m sure it was something harmless like a raccoon, or even a squirrel. I just had the ‘I’m sleeping outside in a plastic bag’ jitters.

The bath houses at Anastasia State Park were pretty clean! I thought it was going to be at least a little icky to shower there, but I was wrong. This park was just what this first time camper needed!

Friday after our outdoor breakfast, my husband & I headed out of the park for a day full of fun in St. Augustine. We came back to the campsite after dark, lit a fire & enjoyed our last night outside. After another yummy al fresco breakfast on Saturday, we packed the car up to go home.

There are plenty of things to do & see at Anastasia State Park. My hubby & I didn’t get to all of them! Besides our brisk walk on the nature trail, we also walked along the beach boardwalk & visited the coquina quarry during our stay.

It was a great weekend away! I think my husband made a camping lover out of me & I’m very much looking forward to going again soon!

Stay tuned to find out what else we did in St. Augustine!

In The New House Designs

Cuba & The Florida Everglades

One of the things that first attracted me to the church I currently attend is that there is a sister church in Cuba. I didn’t even know this was allowed in Cuba until I started attending PUMC. I have visited Cuba twice, & have a heart for the people of my parents’ motherland.

I’ve become very involved with our sister church Iglesia Hefziba in Consolacion del sur, Pinar del Rio. PUMC visited Iglesia Hefziba in January, & then invited the Pastor to come visit us here in the US. Thankfully, he was granted both his exit visa from Cuba & his tourist visa here in the US. He arrived last week, & stayed with my husband & me for 2 nights before going to another family’s home.

It has been a lot of fun showing him new things. Pastor Oscar has been to the US before, over 10 years ago, but there are so many differences between life in Cuba & life in the US. For example, in our house he had waffles (of course my husband made him waffles) for the first time ever. He loved them!

This past weekend we took him to the most Florida place of all Florida. No, not Disney World.

The Everglades.

Everglades Mrs. Dessert Monster

Obligatory tourist Everglades photo!

We had a lot of fun! Our friends Beth & David came with us.

Everglades Mrs. Dessert Monster

It had been like 15 years since I was on an air boat.

Everglades Air Boat Mrs. Dessert Monster

We saw alligators & lots of other animals.

Everglades Alligator Mrs. Dessert Monster

Pastor Oscar’s favorite part was when the air boat went fast. Those things can get to over 50 mph!

After the air boat ride we saw a gator wrestling show. This guy is crazy, but hilarious. He’s from the show Gator Boys on Animal Planet.

Everglades Gator Boys Mrs. Dessert Monster

It was a really fun day.

Everglades Mrs. Dessert Monster

My husband has been so great with Pastor Oscar. He was a very gracious host & he’s more motivated now to work on his Spanish! I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have such a wonderful man to call my husband.

I’m really glad that Pastor Oscar is enjoying his time here, but I can’t help thinking about the fact that he has to return to Cuba soon. He runs his church out of his home because building churches is illegal in Cuba. Beef is illegal in Cuba. The internet is mostly illegal in Cuba. Pastor Oscar tells me that flying the Cuban flag is illegal for private citizens in Cuba.

Cuba breaks my heart. My mom was 6 months pregnant with me when she & my dad came to the US. I am one of the lucky ones to be born in this country. I didn’t do anything except have parents who were lucky enough to immigrate here. I still have family members in Cuba that aren’t so lucky.

The good news is that we all have a God who answers prayers & sent his son to save his people. Please pray for Cuba with me.