Saint Augustine is a location I have desired to visit for a very long time. The first time I heard about this city was years ago while I was in college, it was where the college started before it moved to Miami Florida. I decided I was going to take the trip this year and so I did. I started out searching for rooms for 5 nights but prices were adding up and I started to wonder if there would even be enough for me to do in St. Augustine for 5 days. So I decided to stay for less days. Well to my surprise there was plenty of things to do and see in this historical city. In this article I have put together a list of things you can do while visiting St. Augustine.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
The Castillo de San Marcos (spanish for St. Marks Castle) is said to be the oldest fort of its kind in the United States. This monument has been opened since 1695, yep that long. It was built by the Spaniards to protect Florida. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. each day. If you happen to go when it’s closed like I did you can still explore the exterior, by taking a stroll around the monument, taking note of the cannons on site, the furnace where cannons were heated before being fired or take a seat and enjoy the cool ocean breeze. However, if you are curious about what’s inside and want to learn more about the Castillo de San Marcos, the cost to go in is $15 for ages 16 and older. Children 15 and under are free.
Take a cruise tour
With the cruise tours you have options. There is ‘Scenic Cruise’ that takes you out sight seeing on one of those double decker boats, this tour last about 90 minutes, you can see places like Anastasia Island, the lighthouse, the great cross and surroundings. You can purchase beverages and snacks aboard the Scenic Cruise sightseeing tours. The current prices are $20.75 for adults, $9.75 for children, and $17.50 for seniors.
Then there is also the Black Raven pirate cruises where you can take the whole family for an adventure. The pirate cruises offers activities onboard such as treasure hunt, jokes, sword fights between the pirates, and more. They also offer a Rum Runner cruise but this one is for adults only 😉. The treasure hunt cruises are $39.95 for adults, $29.95 for children ages 3-12, $9.95 children 2 and under, and you can also get the family pack for 2 adults and 2 children at $107.85. The rum runner cruise is $29.95. You must bring ID for the rum runner cruise, it is only on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:15 p.m.
Flagler college is a must see. The former hotel turned college has a spectacular architecture, very appealing to the eye. Atleast it was to my eyes 😀. Flagler College is currently a Liberal Arts College located in historic downtown St. Agustine. It was formerly the Ponce de Leon hotel built by Henry Flagler in 1888. The hotel was visited by well known individuals such as Ernest Hemmingway and John F Kennedy (well he was 13 at the time not yet president). In 1968 the hotel became Flagler College.
Are you an Art Buff, if so then the Lightner Museum is a must see. Before it was the Lightner Museum it was the Alcazar Hotel, also completed in 1888 by Henry Flagler. At first it was to be an extension of Flagler’s other hotel the Ponce de Leon, but instead was built as an independent building. The hotel was closed in 1931 and was bought by Otto Lightner in 1947, who turned it into a museum. At this museum you will experience history in the form of art as you are taken back centuries by the collections. You will be amazed at what you will find here.
Ripley’s Believe it or not
Get ready to explore three stories of the unbelievable at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in St. Augustine, Florida. Here you will find images of extraordinary things and the stories behind them. For example, the lip disk woman and why it is done in certain cultures or Robert Wadlow the tallest man to ever live.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not’s history goes back as far as 1918. In December of that year the first Ripley’s Believe It or Not cartoon was published, then in 1922 Robert Ripley the founder decided to travel around the world. He traveled through countries such as Bali, Israel, Iraq, Jordan, and Asia, just to name a few. In 1929 the first Ripley’s Believe it or not book was published. In the 1930s the first radio show aired. One of the shows was aired 750 feet underground and another Underwater, then from the Grand Canyon. He went on to publishing more books. Later in 1933 the first odditorium was opened in Chicago containing unique artifacts that Ripley collected on his world trips.
Ripley died in 1949 and the first Museum was opened in Saint Augustine the following year at the Castle Warden which was formerly a hotel.
The Old Jail
Try not to let the 6ft 6 inches tall 300lbs sheriff Joe Perry catch you at the The old jail in St. Augustine. The inmates (not really) will give you a tour of the jail built by Henry Flagler. You will be able hear the story behind the jail that Flagler built to look like a hotel and visitors would go there knocking on the door hoping to get a room for the night, only to find out that it is not the type of hotel they were hoping for. You will be able to see the cells and even wax images of prisoners inside the cells, as well as weapons used during that time.
Potter’s Wax Museum
In 1949 George E. Potter made the decision to open America’s very first wax museum in St. Augustine. The idea behind the museum was to teach history. 90% of the figures are from Potter’s original collection. The figures are so life-like it was a bit spooky. lol. You will find past presidents and their wives, as well as famous composers, Michael Jordan, Martin Luther and even some ghastly ones like the Frankenstein Monster. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $14.16 and children 4-12 $8.08, children under 4 are free.
Whetstone Chocolate Tour
Love chocolate or just curious what goes into making it? Well this is the event for you. Henry and Esther Whetstone first started out in the Ice cream business and then later the chocolate business. During this tour you will enjoy walking through the factory and learning about Whetstone’s history, while you nibble on samples. Tours are available daily between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at different intervals and is $8.95 for adults, $6.50 for children 5-17, and free for children under 5.
Gator Bob’s Trading Post
Inside Gator Bob’s you will find souvenirs, gifts, and clothing, but there is more to it than that. Gator Bob’s also has a deli inside and the Old St. Augustine Museum. As you tour the Old St. Augustine Museum, see things like vintage cars, popcorn machine, and old flicker movies.
Watch a Magic Show
Experience magic in historic St. Augustine by stopping in at one of the magic shows. Just at the corner of Hypolita and St. George street you will find Theatre Magic. the cost is $10 per person and the show last 30 minutes. It’s open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Fountain of Youth
The Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth is an archeological park in Saint Augustine that showcases America’s colonial history. No there is no miracle water that will make you stay young forever, but there are a few fountains in the park and especially Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Eternal Hope where you can take a sip. At the Fountain of Youth you will find information about the Timicuan Indians that occupied the area and there way of life. See an actual burying ground, go inside huts, and even take a step inside a church. You will also find beautiful Indian peacocks (they scream a lot). There are presentations like the blacksmith presentation, the planetarium, and the cannon show. You can also climb the observation tower or take a walk on the boardwalk while there.
The Saint Augustine Distillery
Located at the ice plant on Riberia street the St. Augustine Distillery offers tours so you can see how the liquors are made, learn about different types of liquors and even learn how to make special cocktails. Tours are available each day from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and they are free.
Alligator farm is one of the oldest attractions in St. Augustine. The park was founded in 1893. Here you will be able to view different species of crocodiles but not only that, there are also other animals there like birds, lemurs and snakes. You can also go ziplining through the park and enjoy wildlife shows like the scales and tails reptile show. The tickets are $28.99 for adults and $17.99 for children 3-11.
There are so many to choose from. While going to the different attractions to buy entry tickets, one thing most of them offer is a ghost tour package. No wonder because it’s believe that a lot of the buildings in St. Augustine are haunted. Be afraid, very afraid as a tour guide takes you on a nightmarish tour of the cities cemeteries and tell you ghost stories about the city 😱. There are tours available for all ages and some for adults only.
Visit the Beaches
Which one should I go to? 🤔 there are so many to choose from. There is plenty of beach to go around in St. Augustine but it seems that Vilano beach is the most popular or busier. There is a pier there, a marina, and restaurants. You can take your dog for a walk, watch the sunset, take a boat tour, or go fishing. However, if you are looking for somewhere a bit more laid back there is North Beach , just north of Vilano beach. Don’t forget your surfboard you maybe able to catch a wave or two. There is free parking available for the beach as well as paid parking.
Take a Guided Trolley Tour
There are two types of trolley tours that that I have seen in St. Augustine. There is the Old Town Trolley and the Red Train Tours. The Old Town Trolley seems to the be most popular of the two. The tours are guided so the driver will give you a background on the different attractions as well as the city. You will be able to hop on and off the tours at whatever stop you choose. The stops are numbered and you will receive a map that gives you what is at the different stops.
Even though the hotel where I stayed had a sign that showed they sold the Red Train Tours in the lobby I opted for the Old Town Trolley tours when I found out they offered a shuttle that picks you up and drops you back to the hotel. You get discounts on the entry fee to certain attractions when you buy your ticket from the trolley ticket boots.
You can also do your own walking tour along Avenida Mendez or down the back streets like Saint George street, or Aviles Street which is said to be the oldest street in the US. You can see cool things like a lonely musician playing her guitar, an artist drawing a painting, or a guy with snakes.
So maybe you don’t want a trolley tour or even a walking tour, but how about a horse carriage tour around town. You will be able to relax and take in the city views while the coachman gives you a guided tour of the city. These tours are mainly available in the evenings. You can choose from shared rides, to private ones, or rides for special occasions.
Visit the Dolphin Place
Swim with dolphins at Marine Land dolphin adventure. You can go for the swim adventure where you hold on to the dolphin’s flippers while they take you for a ride, or the royal swim in which the dolphin will lift you up by pushing from the sole of your feet, or just have an encounter with the dolphins by interacting with them if you are not a swimmer.
This is Florida and here the ocean is your playing field. There are quite a few places in St. Augustine that offers boat , kayak, and jetski rentals. I have also seen surfers, having a good time on the waves. Parasailing is another activity that you can experience as well.
Be entertained with an interactive experience as you learn about history. You will be able to see a blacksmith demonstration, see a cannon fired and climb a 35ft watch tower where you can overlook Castillo de San Marco and more of downtown St. Augustine.
Pirate and Treasure Museum
At the pirate treasure museum you will be able to observe and learn about treasures from the Caribbean, feel like you are on an actual pirate ship, feel the vibration as you hear the sounds of cannons hitting your ship, and hunt to find treasures hidden away in drawers. It’s a great experience for the whole family. The kids will especially love playing with the interactive cannon. It is located just across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos. The cost for adults is $18.99, $9.99 for children 5-12, and $15.99 for seniors.
World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum
Located in World Golf Village, between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, the world golf hall of fame is the place to be if you are interested in learning something about the world of golf or if you are already a fan. Tickets are $20.95 for adults, children 5-12 $5.00, seniors, Florida residents, and military personnel $19.95. Students 13 and over with proper id $10.00. There is an Imax theatre, visitors can try their hand at a hole in challenge. While there you will also be able to see trophies, and golf sticks that were used, learn about the hall of famers, and climb the tower.
Shopping at the Outlets
Get discounted prices on name brands such as Coach, Michael Kors, Nike, Carters, Coach, and Clarks at the St. Augustine Outlets. They are located just off the I-95. Unfortunately the ones on the east side of the I-95 are currently closed except for Loft. A representative at Loft said that the Outlets on that side were closed for renovation of the building.
Anastasia State Park
Enjoy the beautiful white sand beach at Anastasia State Park. Watch as boaters dock along the shore and enjoy all that is here to do. Beaching is not the only thing you can do here though, you can also bird watch, camp in any of the 139 camps available, go hiking, ride a bike along the 4 miles of beach. Rent a kayak or canoe from inside the park and get to paddling. There is just so much you can do here.
While in St. Augustine you may also want to check out the torture museum, well that is if you are into that type of stuff. See how people were tortured in times past. Learn about skinning, witch interrogation, hand torture, neck trap, and more.
Saint Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
I almost forgot this one and how could I. The lighthouse is a very significant part of Florida’s history. Located on Anastasia Island, the lighthouse was built around the same time as the Castillo de San Marcos to watch out for enemy ships. One of the most popular events at the St. Augustine lighthouse is to climb the 219 stairs to the top of the tower, however, the tower is currently under restoration. Don’t worry there are other things there to do like the ghost tour, the maritime hammock scavenger hunt, and enjoying the daily demos.
I tried to put together as much activities to do in St. Augustine and I am sure there are some things missing from this list. There are other museums to visit in Saint Augustine like the Old School, the Oldest House and even the Civil Rights memorial site. At Old Town, stop number one for the Old Town Trolley there are quite a few places to visit, like the Oldest Store museum, the Spice and Tea exchange and some other places that I mentioned above.
Most of the activities are located in downtown Saint Augustine. The parking there is paid parking and some can be quite pricey, so here is a tip try looking for a place to park on the back streets instead of on the main.
At the end of the day the choice is yours what you will want to experience while visiting this beautiful city, I hope that this list has made it simpler for you. Do not hesitate to write in the comments some of your experiences that you have in Saint Augustine.