I did my due diligence. I checked TripAdvisor before we headed to St. Augustine and read what other people had to say about the town. The #1 attraction on TripAdvisor was a place I’d never heard of: the Ximenez-Fatio House, and reviewers had this to say about it:
“Not to be missed.”
“Best historical tour. This is a must-do.”
“Highlight of our trip.”
With all those accolades, how could I not go?
The Ximenez-Fatio House is a former boarding house that does, indeed, have a rich history. We visited on a Tuesday afternoon and were the only ones there, so got a very private tour for a family price of $15.00. The house dates back to 1798 and is made with coquina stone (which we learned about) and is one of the best preserved colonial buildings remaining in St. Augustine. The historic grounds of the museum date to St. Augustine’s original town plan of 1572, but the house is furnished and preserved to feature the way it looked as a 19th century boarding house. Which, I may add, was owned and run by a woman. Almost unheard of in those times.
We followed our tour guide from room to room where he brought the past to life. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a history buff, but I do enjoy learning how people lived. In this museum/house, our guide eagerly showed us how the furnishings and tools were used. I learned so much! They’ve decorated each room to represent frequent boarders who stayed there, like a doctor, an artillery officer, and a ship’s captain. In this fashion, we learned more about what their lives would have been like, too, and what might have brought them to St. Augustine in the first place. It was fascinating.
We toured one beautiful room after another and got glimpses into life in 19th century St. Augustine. I think I would have liked it.
At the end of our tour, the guide asked us to rate them on TripAdvisor, which is one of the smartest things I’ve heard anyone do. I believe it is because of this that they ranked as the #1 attraction in St. Augustine, despite the town’s fame as the home of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. I would have never heard about the Ximenez-Fatio House if it hadn’t been for TripAdvisor and all the rave reviews written there.
So, did I like it? Yes. Would I rate it the #1 attraction in St. Augustine? No. (Unless I were a history buff, because it truly was a must-see for people who love history.) Would I rely on TripAdvisor reviews to send me to destinations again? Absolutely. I was happy to discover a museum I might have otherwise missed.
Have you followed TripAdvisor reviews to a place you wouldn’t have otherwise gone?