By Stephanie Cavanaugh
The nation's oldest city is awash with charm, history, and water.
It's also the rumored site of Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth. "I'm actually 85," laughs visibly younger looking Broker/Associate, Stefanie Bernsteinof Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices FNR.
Settled by Spain in 1565, and developed as a playground for the rich by Henry Flagler in the late 19th century, St. Augustine is unlike any other Florida city. Downtown's historic district is a visual feast of terra cotta and moss, grand hotels, galleries, shops, and charming byways -- delightfully toured by horse and buggy or bike-and all overshadowed by Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest fort in the U.S., dating to 1695.
Scratch a top ten list and St Augustine hits the top. It's also a quick trip along Dixie Highway to the big city attractions of Jacksonville.
An added benefit. St. Augustine is surround by water from the Intracoastal to marshes, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. Just minutes from downtown are the broad sands of St. Augustine Beach, tranquil Crescent Beach and the wildlife sanctuary of Anastasia State Park.
If downtown has a wealth of Victorian and Spanish Colonial dwellings and architecture, "the island has cottages and more contemporary homes," says Bernstein. "You can live in a community that has a harbor for your boat and be surrounded by ocean."
She currently has a listing on Lands End Drive that sits at the base of the Vilano Bridge near downtown. The home occupies, "just shy of four acres of marsh and Intracoastal. It's completely private, with no neighbors, and no one can build near you," she says.
Within a community that features a full service marina for your boat, the 3,500 square foot contemporary has "ocean and water views from every room." Yet, you can easily bike to downtown, and the ocean is just a two minute drive -- maybe three, if there's traffic.
Berkshire Hatahway HomeServices Florida Network Realty