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Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest and longest continually inhabited city in America, full of family-friendly, historic attractions. But that’s not all there is for visitors to see and experience in this coastal Florida city. This is a unique destination that’s a favorite among tourists who come from near and far. There are clean and peaceful beaches here, tons of restaurants and shops, and don’t forget Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth!
It’s a relatively short drive from both Jacksonville and Orlando, with nice weather that allows for plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. It’s easy to get around on foot, or you can hop on-board a trolley or horse-drawn carriage for a sightseeing tour and pick a local’s brain about the hidden spots to check out. But ultimately, these are some of the most fun places to visit in St. Augustine to help you plan your next trip.
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What Is It? St. George Street in St. Augustine is considered to be “ground zero” for tourist activity.
Why Do It? This is a pedestrians-only narrow street lined with lots of shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and pubs on both sides. It becomes very crowded on weekends, so you might feel a bit claustrophobic walking through to check everything out. But that’s part of the street’s enticing energy!
Good to Know: You’ll find local musicians playing for tips in the alleys and lots of outdoor seating at the bars and restaurants.
What Is It? Nicely situated along Florida’s eastern coast, there are some great beaches here to relax and unwind.
Why Do It? St. Augustine isn’t known as a quintessential beach town, like many other places in Florida, but that gives these beaches a chill vibe that’s hard to find elsewhere. St. Augustine Beach is actually the name of a separate town, and there are about 43 miles of beaches in the area to spread out on.
Good to Know: One beach to check out is Vilano Beach, which allows dogs and driving 4×4 vehicles!
What Is It? History is obviously a big reason that people visit St. Augustine, so if that’s why you’re visiting, make sure to check out the Lightner Museum.
Why Do It? There are lots of intriguing exhibits here, including mummies, crystals, and shrunken heads.
Good to Know: The museum was founded in 1948, but the building, which was originally the historic Alcazar Hotel, has been around since 1888.
What Is It? St. Augustine has some odd “claims to fame,” and one of them is being home to the oldest wooden school house.
Why Do It? Made completely by hand, the Oldest Wooden School House is a fascinating historic structure and architectural feat. It was the first co-ed school that educated both boys and girls in 1788. This 200-year-old building offers a glimpse of what life was like in that time period.
Good to Know: It’s the oldest one in the U.S. and located on St. George Street, so you can’t miss it if you’re strolling through the touristy area over there.
What Is It? The Fountain of Youth is the top attraction in St. Augustine and definitely worth the admission fee it costs to get in.
Why Do It? Let’s face it; most of us wouldn’t mind drinking a magic elixir and restoring that youthful glow again. Once you walk inside the park, you’ll find lots of small huts that offer educational videos and interactive experiences to learn about the history of the city and the explorers who founded it.
Good to Know: Near the entrance, you’ll find the actual fountain with little paper cups so you can actually drink the water! The entire park is dog-friendly, even the huts, which is a big plus if you’re traveling with your four-legged friend.
What Is It? The other big attraction in St. Augustine is Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, which is a great place to learn about the early Spanish empire in the New World.
Why Do It? The fort is made of limestone, broken seashells, and coral, ensuring a strong fortress with once-impenetrable walls. Many historically significant events took place in this fort, including the imprisonment of Seminole tribe leader Chief Osceola.
Good to Know: You can take a tour of the fort or just walk around the outside; dogs are permitted on the grounds but not inside the fort. If you’re interested in learning more about historic forts in the area, check out Fort Matanzas as well.
What Is It? Moses Creek Conservation Area is a peaceful sanctuary that aims to preserve the area’s tidal creeks.
Why Do It? To get a brief respite from the city life and tourist crowds, it’s a great spot to stretch your legs.
Good to Know: There are miles of open space here that are great for easy hiking and wildlife viewing.
What Is It? St. Augustine is a refreshingly bike-friendly city that has lots of bike lanes throughout town and bike trails on the outskirts of town to explore the surrounding areas.
Why Do It? The Stokes Landing Conservation Area has cycling trails and passes through preserved wetlands and wildlife habitats. This is a great place to view wading birds, otters, and red-tailed hawks. The flat dirt trails at the Moses Creek Conservation Area are also well-suited for biking, and wildlife sightings of egrets, blue herons, and tortoises are not uncommon.
Good to Know: If your tires are equipped for sand, you can bike along the beach for scenic views and the calming sounds of crashing waves at Anastasia State Park. The Mala Compra Plantation Greenway Trail is great for mountain bikes and longer excursions.
What Is It? There is some wonderful art in St. Augustine and a few galleries worth checking out during your stay.
Why Do It? Join a First Friday Art Walk from 5-9pm if you’re visiting the town on the first Friday of any month. This is a great way to browse art exhibits and enjoy some live entertainment and refreshments. About 30 galleries participate in the event, and many set out food and wine for participants and also have featured artists onsite to answer questions about their work.
Good to Know: The event takes place rain or shine throughout the historic downtown area from Aviles to King Streets and St. George Street.
What Is It? Quaint and authentic bed & breakfast culture is a big deal in St. Augustine, and there are lots of bed and breakfasts here to choose from.
Why Do It? Many of them are located in the Historic District, so this is a good place to start your B&B search. This is an ideal location to shop for arts and crafts, as well as souvenirs and original art.
Good to Know: Check out our Best Bed & Breakfasts in St. Augustine, Florida article for recommendations!
What Is It? Another great way to stay in St. Augustine is camping, and there are quite a few campgrounds on the outskirts of the city.
Why Do It? Like many places in Florida, RV culture is big, and many campgrounds don’t even allow tents.
Good to Know: One recommended campground is the Compass RV Resort on State Road 207 in St. Augustine. It’s set back in a wooded area but a close drive to everything you want to see and do.