No trip to historic St. Augustine would be complete without exploring Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the original site of the Nation's oldest city, first surveyed by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565- the oldest successful European settlement in the United States. Colonial America had its start here, fifty-five years before the Pilgrims ever landed on Plymouth Rock, and forty-two years before the settlement of Jamestown! The Fountain of Youth Park’s 15 serene acres steeped in 500 years of fascinating history, recreated coquina shell and local cypress architecture and richly colorful legend and lore afford visitors an entertaining and enlightening waterfront educational experience they won’t soon forget! Visit the lovely stone Spring House – the actual site of Ponce de Leon’s notorious “Fountain of Youth” – his “Spring of Eternal Hope” - and the centerpiece of the Park; take a sip of the delightful, cool water enriched with miraculous minerals bubbling from the Earth; do you believe the legend?
The park is populated with vocal peafowl – including stunning white birds that appear like huge snowflakes spinning, sweeping and swaying against the serene landscape. Visit the carefully recreated town of Seloy, a tribute to the industrious Timucua Indians who struggled to co-exist there with the Spanish until disease and politically motivated warfare descended upon them, taking an ultimate deadly toll on a culture that had existed for millennia. Learn how early explorers navigated by the stars, and trace the intimidating routes taken by intrepid Spanish voyageurs sailing for the New World on an amazing 30 foot illuminated globe. Stroll the park’s peaceful Riverwalk, marvel at authentic Timucuan artifacts and visit the “Mission of Nombre de Dios”; close your eyes, inhale the fragrant salt air and the pungent perfume of local cypress planking in the palm-thatched church, a replica of the very first Mission built in the continental United States by Franciscan Friars.