Have you ever stumbled upon a place that you can’t wait to tell all your friends about? I found such a place on one of the narrow side streets in historic St. Augustine.
Shopping on St. George Street, I decided to take a detour down Hypolita Street. Above one of the historic buildings was a sign hanging that read “Chinese Herbal Foot Massage and Reflexology.” I thought to myself, “I would love a foot massage!” The windows were dark, and I was unsure whether I could just walk in. But the sign in the window said, “Walk-ins Welcome,” and “one dollar or less per minute.” So I timidly opened the door.
There were four lounge chairs in the room set up similar to a nail salon. The difference was that the clientele were having their feet massaged rather than their toenails painted. I was immediately greeted with a welcoming smile and asked in English with a strong Chinese accent if I’d like a foot massage. “Yes, please,” I replied.
This was no ordinary foot massage. The massage therapists here are all trained and licensed in both Eastern and Western massage therapy. They use reflexology and acupressure, which embraces the same principles as acupuncture. The massage therapist applies pressure to the 7,000 nerve endings in your feet resulting in a combination of both pleasure and pain. This helps increase the blood flow through your lymphatic system, and you leave feeling better. Owner Lin Li says, “The feet are the roots of your body. It is most important for your circulation…If your feet circulation is good; your whole body is good.”
I had a ten minute foot massage for $10, and now I’m hooked for life.
Every time I visit St. Augustine, I stop in to visit Lin Li, or Lily as her clients affectionately call her. Born in China, Lily travelled and lived all over the world. When she came to the United States, she first lived in San Francisco, then explored the country and settled in St. Augustine. She stayed because it reminded her of a European town. She’s a big dreamer, and she envisioned starting a Little Chinatown on the First Coast.
Lily opened her first massage center in 2011 and now has three shops in St. Augustine. Miss Lilly’s Spa is her newest center. It is located in a historic Victorian house near the Visitors Center on San Marco Avenue. Lily’s massage centers offer much more than just foot massages, but foot massage remains at the center of her practice. Her signature treatment consists of a 20 minute foot massage and a 20 minute body massage.
Lily may not have created Little Chinatown in St. Augustine yet, but she has definitely made her mark. Lily says, “I’m proud of my business. I’m proud of my job. It’s changed people’s lives, and it’s changed my life too.”
Visit Lily and her massage therapists at any one of her three shops in St. Augustine:
20 Hypolita St., 93A King St. and 41 San Marco Ave.
Walk-ins are welcome, but if you’d like an appointment, call 904-808-7376.
Check out her website for more information: chineseherbalmassage.com.