pet parenting

Davi Takes it to the Streets of St. Augustine

He's got four legs and an enormous wanderlust

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The first adventure I ever took was a road trip to St. Augustine with my mom. You may be surprised to learn that St. Augustine is not only the oldest city in the United States, it's a pet-friendly paradise with lots of things for people and pooches to do together.

We set off with a general plan but tried to keep it spontaneous-unexpected adventures are the best parts of a road trip, right? Our goal was to spend the day exploring the historic city and finding out more about its 450 years of culture and natural history. That's a lot of ground to cover with four short legs!

Our first stop was the world-famous Fountain of Youth, discovered by Juan Ponce de León in 1565. It's the oldest attraction in St. Augustine and it's dog-friendly. Roaming around the archaeological dig and Timucua Indian village really had my snout sniffing, but I was most amazed by the long tail feathers of the peacocks sashaying around the grounds. Must. Not. Bark. And though I lapped the elixir of puppyhood, I have yet to notice any change. What gives?

I chose a walking tour to leave my mark on the city. It's a great way to soak up some history and get some exercise. We grabbed a map at the Visitor Information Center and meandered along brick-paved streets (not cobblestone!), seeing the sights and taking advantage of pet-friendly venues. Some shops, like Faux Paws, even offer doggy treats as well as fresh water bowls.

To me, the historic district's most striking features were the many dog-friendly restaurants and outdoor cafés, but we treated ourselves instead to a picnic on the lawn at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a fort the Spanish military began in 1672 and completed in 1695. Dogs are not welcome inside the walls of the fort, but there were lots of areas to nose out ancient scents as the wind flapped my ears.

We next hit the St. Augustine Lighthouse, where pets are welcome on the grounds, but not allowed to climb the spiral staircase to the top. (Whew! Dodged that one!) I liked the shady trail there; I stretched my legs and posed for cute photos. I won't even discuss the rumors about ghosts on the grounds.

My ears perked up when I heard the Spanish Military Hospital Museum let pets join the guided tours. We stepped inside—and back in time—to learn about Colonial era cutting-edge medical practices, and take a break from the heat.

To see the Ancient City from a new angle, we set sail on a scenic cruise around the Matanzas Bay area. The lovely tour was narrated by a knowledgeable guide; a great way to sightsee and learn. Leashed dogs are allowed aboard, but must stay quiet, so no barking. I didn't mind; there's plenty of time to bark at nothing later.

These are some of the Oldest City's more interesting spots to visit for a one-day dog vacay. And there's a beach, with an ocean even—go east across the Bridge of Lions.

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