If you’ve ever visited the nation’s oldest city chances are you’ve been to the Fountain of Youth (FOY). This is currently not just St. Augustine’s but the state of Florida’s oldest standing attraction – Wow! That’s older than Walt Disney World! Anyway, if you haven’t been here, someone has told you about it when you said you were taking a trip to St. Augustine. Chances are they told you it was either a not-miss thing or something you could skip if they happen to be anti-tourist trap. If that’s the case it’s partly because there’s no getting away from that 1940’s Florida roadside attraction look in the front. It is what it is – old; however, what lies behind the fountain itself and the long-standing planetarium, is plain text-book history, which is something you shouldn’t miss to understand how it all began.
Ponce de Leon’s FOY Archeological Park commemorates the landing of Ponce de Leon on these very grounds in the year 1513, and the birthplace of America right here in this beautiful park. It is here you will find the actual settlement site of Pedro Menendez himself. For those who are unfamiliar, he is the founder of St. Augustine, Fl.
That’s right – it is here on this beautiful piece of land that it all began, 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and 42 years before the founding of Jamestown, Virginia!
With 15 waterfront acres, cannon firings every hour, air-conditioned exhibits to beat the summer heat, over 30 beautiful peacocks that you can actually feed, and a new café with beer and wine, the Fountain of Youth awaits to inform and amaze you with many new and old exhibits!
Of course I left out the fact that the water from the Spring House is said to make you young forever! They even sell it in the gift shop if you have friends and family you want to take it home to!
As part of Viva 500 and St. Augustine’s upcoming 450th birthday celebration, the FOY has made plenty of upgrades to this historic property; including a Founders' Observation Riverwalk, which includes 600 feet of walking pleasure that gives beautiful views of Matanzas Bay and St. Augustine's inlet. Whether you stroll its length during the morning or the afternoon, the scenery is absolutely stunning! As you walk its length, simply turn around and you are instantly transported back nearly 450 years in time to the initial Spanish occupation.
Unique Facts about the FOY
The First Thanksgiving actually took place right on these grounds. It occurred on September the 12th, 1565 in the Menendez Settlement Field.
It is the location of Seloy, a Timucuan Indian Village that existed for 2,000 years before the Spanish arrival.
You will also find here the reconstructed Oldest Mission Church in the US and the original site of the Mission of Nombre de Dios – 1587.
Living history interpreters are on site to explain living and working environment of the early settlers and the indigenous people of the time.
The FOY is currently the largest private attraction in the city of St. Augustine.