In 2022, Samantha Brown and her Places to Love crew stopped by to learn more about St. Augustine and the surrounding area.
Follow Samantha’s footsteps through St. Augustine as we introduce you to the people she met and the places she visited along the way.
Visit your local PBS station’s website to see the broadcast schedule or watch the episode online.
Northeast Florida viewers can tune in to Jacksonville’s WJCT on Saturday, January 28th at 11 AM.
St. Augustine Eco Tours
Samantha kicked off her St. Augustine journey by sailing a 27-foot catamaran with Zach McKenna of St. Augustine Eco Tours.
Zach led Samantha through the Matanzas River to talk about our local waterways, dolphins, and birds and ended the tour with a breathtaking view of the Castillo de San Marcos from the bay.
St. Augustine Eco Tours provides on-water experiences focused on environmental education, conservation, wildlife, and habitat protection. They work to reduce their impact by operating fuel-efficient boats with ultra-low emissions and adopting technologies for a paperless, eco-conscious business.
Castillo de San Marcos
Next, Samantha met with Ranger Jill Leverett at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument to learn about its importance in American history.
Completed in 1695, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument was constructed by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic Trade Route and is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Never captured in battle, its coquina walls are a testament to the endurance of the nation’s Hispanic heritage and other cultural groups that are part of its story.
The walls of the Castillo de San Marcos are 14-feet thick and made of coquina, a soft limestone made of broken shells native to St. Augustine and mined in quarries on Anastasia Island. Its strength was put to the test during the War of Spanish Succession in 1702. The softness of the coquina absorbed the impact of cannonballs, so the structure never cracked or crumbled.
The Castillo de San Marcos is only one of two forts built from coquina. The second is Fort Matanzas, completed in 1742 and located just 15 miles south of St. Augustine on the Matanzas River.
The Castillo de San Marcos is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Samantha completed her first day with a fine dining experience at Llama Restaurant to learn more about Chef Marcel Vizcarra and his elevated Peruvian menu.
Chef Marcel Vizcarra transports his guests to his native Peru with every dish, each accompanied by a story. Fresh vegetables, spices, and unique preparation techniques like ceviche characterize the country’s cuisine, but Vizcarra takes them to new heights by applying molecular gastronomy and classical French techniques.
At Llama, guests will find artful presentations of authentic foods that highlight Peru’s microsystems from the coast to the mountains with ingredients like Amazonian arapaima, octopus, beef heart, giant corn, and passionfruit.
Flagler College & Hotel Ponce de Leon
No visit to St. Augustine is complete without a peek inside this Gilded Age marvel!
Samantha met with Dr. Leslee Keys, Visiting Scholar in Academic Affairs at Flagler College, to discuss the architectural importance of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon.
Built in 1888 by oil magnate and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, Hotel Ponce de Leon was an opulent winter playground for well-to-do travelers from the North.
This masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture is the first major poured-in-place concrete building in the United States, was the first building in Florida to be wired for electricity personally installed by Thomas Edison, and launched the careers of John Carrere & Thomas Hastings (architects of the New York Public Library).
Louis Comfort Tiffany decorated the interior with his signature stained glass and commissioned murals by artists George W. Maynard and Virgilio Tojetti. The former Hotel Ponce de Leon was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and has operated as a liberal arts college since 1968.
Flagler College has been recognized for its beauty and transformative academic commitment. In 2022, Flagler College was included on Veranda’s list of the “12 Most Beautiful College Campuses Around the World” and Architectural Digest’s “8 Most Unexpected Places to See World-Class Architecture in the US.”
US News & World Report ranks Flagler College #2 on its list of Best Regional Colleges of the South and #1 for Best Value among Florida institutions.
Hunting Shark’s Teeth
Next, Samantha met with old friends Chris and Rob Taylor of 2TravelDads and their children for shark tooth hunting on a beach near the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Based in St. Augustine, 2TravelDads is the first LGBTQ family travel blog, encouraging non-traditional families to be visible in the world and travel safely beyond their comfort zone. Focusing on cultural experiences as educational opportunities for their sons, they’ve partnered with companies like Universal and VISIT FLORIDA to share their experiences and recommendations for families of all kinds.
Rob Taylor is the founder and lead journalist of 2TravelDads and the author of two books: The Road Trip Survival Guide and The Ultimate Travel Journal for Kids.
Where We Stand
Local fine art photographer Lenny Foster gave Samantha Brown a tour of his series Where We Stand, exhibited in 2022 at the St. Johns County Administration Building and now traveling to museums and galleries throughout Florida.
Part of the St. Johns Cultural Council’s Art in Public Spaces program, Where We Stand uses images and text to share the rich and powerful story of Africans and African Americans in St. Augustine, Florida. Foster arranges shoes at important sites including the Woolworths lunch counter, the Lincolnville neighborhood, and St. Augustine Beach to honor the hidden history and heritage of America’s Oldest City.
Foster said, “As awareness of the local past dawned on me, it has become the focus of my work. This mindfulness has allowed me to combine my fine art photography with a historic and social awareness of the continuing struggle for freedom and recognition by the people who are my ancestors and my heritage. I feel honored to be able to share this history, through my work, with a broader public.”
Click the link below to see more of the series and visit Gallery One Forty-Four in downtown St. Augustine.
Urban Asado & Asado Life
Samantha and her crew wrapped up their trip with a dinner at Urban Asado, accompanied by her local St. Augustine guides.
Inspired by his Argentinian roots, owner Nick Carrera founded Urban Asado to showcase Latin-style barbecue and collaborate with local chefs and restaurants for community grilling experiences.
Traditional hoods and bulky accessories are traded for a crank-driven grill, drip pans, and open-air flames. The heat comes from burning hardwood while the crank allows the grill master to raise or lower meat and vegetables to adjust the cooking time and temperature while the drip pan catches natural juices to use during cooking.
Urban Asado and Leña came together under one roof as Asado Life, where guests enjoy live fire grilling while overlooking the San Sebastian River.
In January 2023, guests of the show and pass holders for the St. Augustine Film Festival got an exclusive sneak peek at the Places to Love episode at AsadoLife with a special virtual appearance by Samantha Brown.