The Florida Times-Union
Arguably the crown jewel of Florida’s First Coast, St. Augustine, and superlatives are often mentioned in the same sentence.
Already this year, the oldest city in America has been featured on a nationally televised travel show, and its beaches have been named among the best in the United States.
And this week, St. Augustine earned a new accolade: The South’s Best Small Town 2023 by Southern Living as part of its annual The South's Best feature.
“With its Spanish colonial heritage, melting-pot population, and wealth of Gilded Age relics, there’s truly no other town cut from the same cloth (or, perhaps, patchwork) as St. Augustine, Florida,” travel writer Valerie Rains wrote in Southern Living.
During her four-day stay in the city, Rains gushes over the city's restaurants and bars, including Boat Drinks, The Floridian, Casa Reina, Collage, River & Fort, Llama, St. Augustine Distillery, and more after exploring St. George Street and downtown, the waterfront and waterways, Anastasia State Park and the city’s connection to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
St. Augustine's St. George Inn is featured on one of the covers of the magazine's special double issue.
The city bested other small towns of the South, including Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Tybee Island, Ga.; and Sanibel, Fla.
"In a year when more people than ever are traveling and moving to the South, we wanted to put a spotlight on small towns in this year's South's Best Awards,” said Sid Evans, Editor in Chief of Southern Living, in a news release. “These are the hidden gems our readers picked for their character, charm, and unmistakable Southernness.”
In late January, PBS’s “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love” featured an episode on St. Augustine. And just last week, Tripadvisor ranked St. Augustine Beach No. 13 on its list of Top 25 Beaches – United States.
A year ago, St. Augustine was named to Southern Living magazine’s The South’s Best Beach Towns, earning praise for its beaches, the Castillo de San Marcos, and Lightner Museum.