TripAdvisor Sent Me to the Ximenez-Fatio House


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.

Dining room

Dining room

Parlor/game room with flooring that was a precursor to linoleum

Parlor/game room with flooring that was a precursor to linoleum

Linen cupboard

Linen cupboard

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?


12 responses to “TripAdvisor Sent Me to the Ximenez-Fatio House

  1. I like the fact that it was owned and operated by a woman, too – very progressive lady! The ship captain’s room would be ineresting to see, too, I like learning about the way people lived “way back when”
    great post! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  2. Yes I love a bit of social history – imagining people of the past preceding you in the very spot where you’re now standing. (There are your ghosts again).
    As to TripAdvisor I don’t go anywhere much but I’d be more inclined to use it to avoid hotels and restaurants from hell.

    • You make a good point, Roy. I have shied away from a few places that had consistently bad reviews on TripAdvisor. I try to form my own opinions and not get swayed by too many points of view, so I usually just skim. Plus, I like to be surprised, so I don’t want to know all the details.

  3. I generally let TripAdvisor lead me and I’ve done and been to interesting places that I wouldn’t have thought of going to. But like you, I like forming my own opinions and will say so. And I go to places which have variable reviews if I’m curious enough.

  4. I use TripAdvisor as one of the many tools I use when planning a trip, however, unless there are hundreds of pages, I ALWAYS look through ALL the various attractions and usually pick at least a couple which are lower ranking. I don’t read the reviews in depth either, I simply skim over the first couple to see if there are any hidden tips etc

    • I know. Otherwise it’s like you already know everything about the place. I look for some helpful hints or specifics about hours, location, parking, food, etc.– nothing that would take away from the experience.

  5. I’ve only ever used TripAdvisor for restaurants but last time I used it for my trip to Florence, pretty much every place we went to that got rave reviews on TripAdvisor was a hit including a total hole-in-the-wall place in a narrow street. Using it for attractions is also a great idea, not sure why it didn’t occur to me before!

    • I always like to collect as much information as I can so I don’t miss anything. I’m especially intrigued when I find a listing that’s only in one place I look. Makes me all the more curious about it. It was that way with the Ximenez-Fatio House. Other than through TripAdvisor, it wasn’t on my radar.

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