Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in St.Augustine, Florida

Outside the Ripley's Museum 
Hello Dear Readers:

  While visiting St Augustine, Florida last week, we had time to visit some of the attractions and historical locations. One of the most memorable and unique was the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. 
Photo taken from Ripleys St Augustine website

 We decided to visit on Valentine's Day and then take the Little Red Train on a sightseeing trip to see all of the local sites. (upcoming post with photos of that tour, it was so fun).  Upon entering the beautiful building,we were given a cute red train whistle, our passes and train passes and a red carnation for G'ma, Ana and I.  How sweet!  Right there in the Lobby, I knew this was going to be an unusual Museum. The main thing to remember while walking around this "odditorium": as they call it, is to expect the unexpected. We loved everything from paintings made out of food: toast, jelly beans, candy, etc. to the spooky dungeon rooms (I like these, Ana not so much) and all of the historical pieces as well.   Ana's favorite display was the erector set Ferris Wheel in the middle of the building.  And this moose(she wanted to pet it):
A mighty moose stuck in the window.
   Not only was the Mansion a beautiful restored building, but  it was cool to travel the winding hallways and staircases not knowing what was going to be around the corner.
Daddy's love on Valentine's Day! 
Ana and Daddy found a great place to take a rest. Plus, it was not a spooky room.

    One of my favorite rooms:

 I really enjoyed the darker part of the museum including the torture rooms, and stories of headshrinkers and cannibals. These rooms were dark, and did not really photograph well, but I tried:

A photo of a mummy in one of the darker rooms

I also really liked the story and display about ghosts being seen of a woman who died during a fire in the building.  It was witty (there was an optical allusion) and fun.  We also loved the room where you could explore sound, use a video screen to slow down and speed up videos, and play with shadows. The hands on part of the exhibits were fun! And the full sized human figures and animals were creepy.

OOh creepy!
Here is a little history about the building from the official site:

"The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum is housed in one of St. Augustine’s most unique buildings, an 1880′s poured concrete castle. Originally built by Standard Oil partner William G. Warden, it later became a classy hotel when owned by Pulitzer Prize winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (“The Yearling”) and her hotelier husband Norton Baskin.
Two women died in a fire in April 1944 at the Castle Warden Inn, as it was called during the World War II era. But many observers now believe that Ruth Hopkins Pickering and Betty Neville Richeson were murdered and the fire set to cover up the evil deed.
It is highly unlikely they knew each other. In fact, Betty, a woman in her 20′s, had only checked into the hotel 90 minutes before her death. Ruth, on the other hand, was staying in the 4th floor penthouse apartment for a lengthy period at the behest of her good friend Marjorie. Many believe Ruth was “hiding” from an abusive spouse and Marjorie knew Ruth would be safe and comfortable there, just a few blocks away from Ruth’s residence on Magnolia Avenue."

 We didnt have time to take the Ghost Train Tour to learn all about this story and more, but you can be sure that the next time we visit St. Augustine (next winter?), we will be taking that tour too!

If you find yourself planning a visit to St Augustine in the near future, or you live nearby, make sure you visit the Ripley's Museum. It was fascinating, educational and fun!  And afterwards, you can take a tour on the Little Red Train and learn more about St. Augustine.
Outside the Museum,you can see the statue of David .

For more info check out these links:

Official Ripley's in St Augustine Site
Ripley's on Twitter
Ripley's on Facebook

** Thanks to the kind people at Ripley's we were provided with complimentary passes to both the Ripley's Museum and the Little Red Train.  However, I was not compensated for this post, and the opinions within are my own.

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