North East

Florida’s Oldest Attraction

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

The fountain of youth was a legend even back in the day of Ponce De Leon who learned about the mythical healing waters from the Native Americans. The legend of the waters that contained the cure for aging became associated with Ponce De Leon in a biography of sorts and it is said that Ponce De Leon was looking for these legendary waters when he landed in Florida in 1513. Although much of the story is embellished fiction, archaeological digs at the site of the original Spanish Colonial Saint Augustine has provided many artifacts over the years and it is at this site that a tribute to Ponce De Leon’s mythical search stands.

There is a natural spring at the site full of iron and other minerals that are better for you than tap water, but that is probably where truth stops and entertainment begins. This is after all a tourist attraction and is actually claimed to be Florida’s oldest tourist attraction with a claimed guest book dating back to the 1860’s.

In 1934 the Smithsonian Institute performed the first dig at the park which produced artifacts pointing to this being the site of the first christian mission in the United States and today at the park, stands a reconstructed 1587 mission Church.

There are many exhibits throughout this 15 acre waterfront park where peacocks roam freely. A working black smith’s shop, an interpretive Native American village, a sixteenth century watchtower, a settlement field of the 1565 first colony and a planetarium demonstration of the navigation techniques used in the early 1500’s, are just a few of the exhibits to explore. In addition to these and other exhibits are the live cannon fire demonstrations that are always a popular attraction and can be heard miles away.

There is a gift shop on site where you can purchase and take home a bottle of that Fountain of Youth Spring water. Hey, you never know? and If you get hungry on your visit, there is a little outdoor cafe’ that actually has some pretty good burgers and barbecue just beware of the begging squirrels and peacocks!!

The Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth and Archaeological park is a stop for both the Old Town Trolley and Ripley’s Red Train Tour. Pets are welcome throughout the entire park!!

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Categories: North East, Region

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