Jade and I became online friends over seven years ago through secret Tumblrs we both maintained. We’ve been IRL friends for more than five, having traveled all over together: California, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Caribbean and beyond. Let me just tell you how awesome it is to go from thinking you like someone a whole lot via their online persona to discovering you straight-up adore them in real life.
That’s not always the case. Luckily, with Jade, it was.
“Nah,” I brushed it off. Drink some more bourbon; that’ll help ease your worries.”
Eight months to the day later, Augustine was born. I’m clearly a great role model. (Pregnant women, call me!)
And ever since her debut in November, I’ve been trying to find a time to meet Mini Jade. First, I was going to fly to LA to do just that, then was told they’d be in Florida for a week in early March. And you know me, any chance to escape to Florida, I’m in!
The last time I saw Jade and Bob in September, they were a family of two (plus two fur kids); now, they’re a party of three. It’s a pretty cool thing to see such a transition take place, especially when your best friend is killing it with the whole mom thing (Bob, you aren’t doing shabby either!). Also, let’s just talk about how perfect this baby is, too:
It only made sense that I’d meet Augustine in the city that lent her its name. Jade grew up in Jacksonville, and her parents moved further south to St. Augustine around the time we graduated high school. She and Bob married there a few years back, and it’s apt that their littlest love would be named after their greatest love (prior to her, of course).
And not five minutes after meeting them in downtown St. Augustine, I fully understood why they are so intoxicated by this coastal town.
Fun fact: Not only is St. Augustine Florida’s oldest city, it’s also the oldest city in the nation!
After making the 45-minute drive from Jacksonville—so easy! so quick! so little traffic!—I met Jade, her mom Micki, Bob and Augustine at Mojo BBQ Old City, where they were having lunch. From there, we set out on foot and canvased the downtown over the course of the next four hours. I love how they didn’t think twice about putting Augustine in her stroller and carting her all over; I knew Jade and Bob would be the type of parents (i.e. my favorite kind) whose child would adapt to their lifestyle and not vice verse.
Our self-guided tour began with a stroll around the Flagler College. I had a few friends who went to college here, and I was immediately jealous that they got to spend four (or in many cases, maybe five) years on such a gorgeous campus.
I took a peek around to find marvelous architecture hiding behind every corner.
Then we set off across the way to the Plaza De La Constitucion (or simply, “the Plaza”). We also popped into the iconic Casa Monica Hotel just to gawk over the gorgeous furnishings. We were staying with her amazing parents in their fabulous beach house, but I’m thinking next time I head down for a visit, Jade, Augustine, Micki and I need a girlfriend getaway at this awesome property.
From there, it was onto St. George Street, the epicenter of St. Augustine’s tourist activity with plenty of equally beautiful buildings to boot.
One of the Enterprise employees at the airport had gone to Flagler and advised me, “you simply can’t go to St. Augustine without getting a Popsicle at the Hyppo.” And who am I to argue with a local? You always take the local’s advice, y’all (unless that’s to eat at Bubba Gump’s and drink at Hard Rock Cafe, that is…ha).
Very high on our agenda was a visit to St. Augustine Distillery. You guys know me and my love for all things booze—so many friends, both Floridians and otherwise, had told me what a killer spot this was, so we just had to go.
It lived up to the hype, pals.
The local distillery opened in a National Register of Historic Places building in 2014 and focuses on a number of small batches—whiskey, vodka, rum and gin—made from Florida-farmed sugar cane and botanicals and regional molasses. It’s rare you find such a spirits company that does a little of everything, and St. Augustine Distillery reminded me of one of my favorite Nashville spots, Corsair, for that very reason.
Full disclosure, we opted not to actually do the distillery tour because a) we had a baby with us (though none of us had qualms taking her through the space, it was an hour-long commitment) and b) it was 5pm and happy hour time!
Instead, we checked out the shop, did some tastings, then went upstairs for a proper cocktail at the Ice Plant Bar.
This was a brilliant plan on our part if I do say so myself.
While the bar is on the second floor of the distillery, it’s not actually the same company. Rather, it’s a speakeasy-style cocktail concept with a keen focus on—you guessed it—ice that occupies a 1927 ice plant. Jade and I opted for Florida Mules made from the distillery’s own vodka. The space was gorgeous, and I could have easily wiled away the evening cozied up to the bar here. But we had places to be and people to see.
After cocktails, it was time to pack up and head over the bridge to Vilano Beach for the night. My trip was just getting started.
Looking for other trip ideas to Florida? I’ve got a few:
- Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River
- 4 Ways to Explore Jacksonville
- Taking Your Dog to South Walton
- Planning the Ultimate Vacation in the Florida Keys
- Getting Your Water Park on at Volcano Bay
- Exploring St. Augustine’s Old City
- Planning a Gulf Coast Bachelorette
- Experiencing the Magic at Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Going Wreck Diving in the Gulf of Mexico
- Swimming with Dolphins in PCB