At this moment, kids all over the country are streaming back into their classrooms chattering about summer adventures and bubbling with excitement. With the start of a new school year, so comes another year of shared learning experiences outside the classroom on those wonderful days we all used to look forward to: field trips. And where better to take your class on a field trip but to the Nation’s Oldest City? We decided to put together a quick list of local attractions that also offer learning experiences, living history and maybe a little fun!
The Spanish Quarter Museum: Throw out the characteristics of a stereotypical museum–the Spanish Quarter is so much more. Instead of glass encased exhibits and yawn-inducing tour guides, the Spanish Quarter takes students through an actual day in the life of early Spanish settlers in St. Augustine. Students will stop by the blacksmith’s shop to see how horseshoes are made, visit the housewives weaving blankets for their babies and meet the soldiers who keep the city safe from outside enemies. Colorful narrators in period costumes bring to life this replica village tucked away on St. George Street.
Oldest Wooden School House Museum & Gardens: Just down the road from the Spanish Quarter, the Oldest Wooden School House also gives students some insight into what life was like two centuries ago when the building was originally erected. Explore the tiny house that used to serve not only as a classroom, but also as a home for the schoolmaster and his wife. Outside, a separate kitchen building and outhouse nestled into the schoolhouse’s immaculate gardens complete the picture of what school life was like in the 1800?s. By the end of this tour, your students will be thankful for the classroom amenities they have today!
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument: Historic St. Augustine’s focal point is undoubtedly this massive coquina fortress with roots dating back to the 1600?s. Surrounded by a moat and facing out on the St. Augustine Inlet, this national landmark still shows its battle scars from centuries past in the form of cannonballs embedded into the fort’s walls. It was also the home of Seminole legend Chief Osceola after he was captured during the Second Seminole War. A host of historical artifacts (including operational cannons) are on display inside the Castillo. The rolling lawn also makes for a perfect picnic spot after your tour.
Fort Mose State Historic Park: Just north of St. Augustine on the Intracoastal Waterway, the grounds of Fort Mose and its accompanying museum stand at the site of the country’s first legally sanctioned free African settlement. Though there are no remaining structures from the original settlement, the museum inside the park’s visitor’s center features artifacts and several multimedia interactive exhibits to teach students about the significance of Fort Mose and its role in U.S. History.
These are just a few of the many attractions that can also offer students an interactive learning experience and make the new school year extra special! We wish all the new students (and their teachers) best of luck for a safe and happy school year.