Dating back to the 16th century St. Augustine is America’s oldest city. This charming seaside town is full of history, beautiful architecture, and lots of activities. One thing is for sure there is no shortage of things to do in St. Augustine, Florida.
Besides the historical aspects of St. Augustine, there are many other attractions for visitors too. Our list covers all of the best activities both old and new and for all interests. Whatever you choose to do in St. Augustine you are sure to find a fun time.
1. Castillo de San Marcos
It’s hard to miss this massive stone fortress looming over Mantanza Bay. Built in 1672 by the Spanish, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest structure in St. Augustine, as well as the oldest masonry fort in the entire United States. Throughout the 1700s, British forces desperately tried to conquer the fort, although its thick Spanish stone walls could never be taken. However, the fort was handed over to the British in 1763 when Florida became a British colony.
The fort is now open to the public to explore, it’s one of the must-see things to do in St. Augustine. Visitors can tour the staterooms and prison cells and participate in cannon firings and weaponry demonstrations. If you’re looking for one of the best views in St. Augustine, climb to the top of the gun deck; from here, you’ll have panoramic views of the city skyline and crystal blue waters.
2. St. George Street
Running through St. Augustine’s heart is St. George Street, a bustling area filled with cafes, historical sights, and numerous attractions. At all hours of the day, you’ll find locals and tourists shuffling along this pedestrianized road for sightseeing, shopping, and simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
Some of the highlights along St. George Street include the Old City Gate, the Oldest Wooden School House, and the Pena Peck House. You’ll also find numerous museums dotted along the way, like the Medieval Torture Museum and the Colonial Quarter.
Some of the best restaurants in St. Augustine can be found in and around St. George Street. If you want a small bite head to Pizza Time, you won’t miss it as there is usually a line. It was recently named #2 in the USA for the best pizza on Trip Advisor.
3. Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
While most big cities have hop-on-hop-off bus tours to take people around to the major sights, St. Augustine has something a little bit different. Jump aboard their hop-on-hop-off trolley tours, which will guide you through town on an old-fashioned trolley! Your conductor will drive you past more than 100 St. Augustine attractions while sharing real-life stories and commentary about the different sights in the area.
Popular St. Augustine attractions along the route include the Castillo de San Maros, Flagler College, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, and the St. Augustine History Museum. Best of all, you’ll be able to get off at any of the 22 stops to explore the attractions and museums at your own pace. When you’re ready to move on to your next location, you can board any of the scheduled trolleys to take you to your next destination.
4. St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
Located on Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is a magnificent sight to behold. The massive 165-foot tower is painted in black and white stripes, which can be seen for miles around. As the oldest brick structure in St. Augustine, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is a fascinating insight into the city’s rich history.
If you’re up for the challenge, you can climb the strenuous 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse for breathtaking views of the city and Salt Run Lagoon. Or you can visit the neighboring Maritime Museum, which contains extensive exhibits on WWII shipwrecks, the U.S. Coast Guard in St. Augustine, and a traditional wooden boat building.
The lighthouse is also rumored to be haunted by the former lighthouse keepers, making it a popular stop on many ghost tours of St. Augustine. It’s been featured in multiple ghost hunting shows and paranormal TV series over the years, so don’t be afraid if you hear strange noises during your visit!
5. Colonial Quarter
Step back in time with a visit to the Colonial Quarter to learn all about St. Augustine’s 500-year old history. This living museum contains numerous attractions that explain how daily life was conducted during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries during the European settlement in America. On the tour, you’ll see real-life blacksmith forging, musket loading, shipbuilding, and leatherworking demonstrations.
Besides the guided tour, the Colonial Quarter is home to numerous restaurants and shops. Grab some tacos and a margarita at the Taberna del Caballo, an 18th-century-styled Spanish tavern where you can kick back and enjoy the sunshine on their outdoor patio. The Colonial Quarter also hosts live concerts throughout the year – you can check their online calendar for exact dates.
6. St. Augustine Helicopter Tour
St. Augustine isn’t just the oldest city in the United States – it also happens to be one of the most beautiful! And what better way to see the spectacular landscape than from high in the air on a scenic helicopter flight? Check rates now.
Your professional captain will whisk you over the sandy coastline and give you a birds-eye view of St. Augustine attractions, like Vilano Beach, Conch Island, Porpoise Point, and St. Augustine Beach. During your flight, you’ll be able to spot famous landmarks like the towering St. Augustine Lighthouse and fortified Castillo de San Marcos.
Although it’s not the most budget-friendly activity on this list, it’s still guaranteed to be the most memorable. Don’t forget to bring your camera, because you’re going to want to remember these jaw-dropping views for years to come!
7. Fort Mose Historic State Park
Although St. Augustine is mostly known for its Spanish influence, many people are unaware that it also played a major role in America’s Black history. Fort Mose Historic State Park was the site of the country’s first free black settlement for slaves who escaped British colonial rule. The site was built and established by Spanish governor Manual de Montiano in 1738, who wanted to offer a safe haven for incoming refugees.
The settlement remained undiscovered until an archeological excavation in 1986 uncovered the original fort. They also excavated numerous artifacts, which can now be found in the Fort Most Historic State Park visitor center. As you walk along the trail, you’ll encounter a traditional cooking hut, a historic garden, and a Spanish-style boat. As one of the best hidden St. Augustine gems, the Fort Mose Historic State Park is not to be missed during your trip.
8. St. Augustine Beach
If crashing waves and white powdery sand sound like your idea of a picture-perfect vacation, make sure to spend an afternoon at the beautiful St. Augustine Beach. Located five miles from the historic downtown center, St. Augustine Beach is perfect for families and beachgoers. The two-mile stretch of wide beach has a volleyball court, children’s splash ground, and several nature trails.
At the north end of the beach, you’ll find the St. John’s County Ocean and Fishing pier. If you have purchased your fishing license, then you can set up a line here. Otherwise, the pier is an excellent place for a stroll, especially during sunset. Unlike other beaches in Florida, St. Augustine Beach is rarely crowded, which is ideal for anyone looking to escape the bustle of city life.
9. The Lightner Museum
In a city as historic as St. Augustine, it’s crucial to visit a few museums to understand St. Augustine’s impact on American history. One of the best places to learn about St. Augustine’s history and culture is at the Lightner Museum, which is housed in the Hotel Alcazar (a stunning Spanish Renaissance building that’s worth visiting in its own right).
Inside the museum, you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts and items from the Victorian era, including stained glass, sculptures, and furniture. You’ll even walk through a Victorian village, with recreated storefronts and shops dating back to the 1800s. In addition to the Victorian exhibits, the Lightner Museum also has an industrial room containing an Egyptian mummy, various shells and rocks, and multiple Native American artifacts.
10. St. Augustine Ghost Tour
It should come as no surprise that the oldest city in America is also one of the scariest. Haunted by paranormal activity and forlorn ghosts, St. Augustine has a frightening and eerie history hidden deep within its core. If you’re interested in learning more about St. Augustine’s dark side, you’ll want to book an evening ghost tour of the city.
As you walk through the cobblestone streets and winding alleys at dusk, you’ll learn about spine-tingling stories that date back to the 17th century. You’ll visit the Tolomoto Cemetary to learn about some of the famous souls buried beneath the ground. You’ll also stop by an ancient funeral parlor believed to be visited by the bodies of past residents. Although the tours tend to be more educational than downright spooky, it’s advised to leave any children (or scaredy cats) back at the hotel.
11. St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Dating back to 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm has been entertaining families for over 120 years. What started as a small reptile exhibit on Anastasia Island has grown to be one of Florida’s biggest accredited zoos. The Alligator Farm is the only place in the world where you can see every species of alligator, crocodile, caiman, and gharial.
In addition to the crocodiles, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm also has an exotic bird and monkey exhibit. There is also an on-site bird rookery, where wild herons, storks, and egrets roam free among the gardens. Thrill-seekers can book a ride on the Crocodile Crossing, a zip line course that flies 35 feet over the alligator and crocodile ponds. Where else in the world can you go ziplining over some of the world’s most dangerous creatures?
12. The Fountain of Youth
A visit to the 15-acre Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a must-see for any history buff. This is believed to be the spot where Ponce de León found the elusive Fountain of Youth while traveling from Puerto Rico to Florida in 1513. While drinking or bathing in the water won’t technically grant you eternal life or beauty, the Fountain of Youth Park remains one of the top things to do in St. Augustine.
Although many people come to have a refreshing sip from the natural springs, there are plenty of other family-friendly attractions in the park. Re-created Spanish and Timucuan buildings have been built, which shed light on what life was like before the Spanish settlements. The park is also a working archaeological dig site, and several Timucuan burials and artifacts have been discovered over the last 100 years.
13. Anastasia State Park
Situated on the peninsula of Anastasia Island, Anastasia State Park is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. This 1,600-acre park is home to sandy beaches, tidal marshes, and dense mangrove forests. You’ll also find the Old Spanish Coquina Quarries, an archeological site filled with coquina stone used for the Castillo de San Marco fort. Stretching along the Atlantic Coast plain, the Anastasia State Park boasts some of the most stunning rural landscapes in all of St. Augustine.
There are numerous activities to participate in during your visit. Swimming, beachcombing, and bird watching are very popular. You’ll also find that the calm waters are perfect for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. If you’re looking for a bit of fresh air and exercise, you’ll find a few nature trails winding through the dunes and beaches. While Anastasia State Park can easily be visiting as a day trip, it’s possible to spend the night in one of the campsites located inside the park.
14. St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
With more than 800 artifacts and discovered treasures, the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is believed to contain the most pirate items in the world under one roof. The museum is home to several unique artifacts, including one of the only three remaining Jolly Roger flags and one of the last authentic pirate treasure chests from Thomas Tew. You’ll also get to see Blackbeard’s original firearm, as well as real gold that was discovered in his ship.
In addition to the treasures on display, visitors can fire a real cannon off the gun deck (electronically) and watch a custom Disney 3D pirate show. For a unique experience, we recommend booking a Pirate guided tour. Led by your very own pirate guide, you’ll learn how to tie the perfect knot, raise the Jolly Roger flag, and participate in other swashbuckling activities.
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We hope we inspired you to visit St. Augustine and gave you a fresh list of things to do when you get there!This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure