Every year, there’s a tradition in my family to travel for Christmas. From Budapest to Madrid, I would constantly travel with my parents for Christmas. I was fearful that this would end once I got married, but the tradition seems to continue as I have taken at least a trip during Christmas throughout the entirety of our marriage.
This year, we decided to go to St. Augustine for Christmas to check out the Nights of Lights. This spectacular event occurs every night starting the Saturday before Thanksgiving through January 31st. This year, however, they will remain on through February 3rd.
Ripley’s Red Train
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Nights of Lights, but my hubby and I decided to take the Ripley’s Red Train Nights of Lights tour. This tour took us around the city to view the lights and we even got some fun glasses that allowed us to see reindeer shaped lights. Although the tour lasted for 30 minutes, it was a fun experience.
The tours are from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The general admission is $11.99 for adults and $5.99 for kids, making this a very affordable option. Parking is also free for customers, but it is on a first come, first serve basis. It is recommended to get there early.
For us, it was difficult to find parking because the parking lot was full, but they did have the option to park at the old sugar mill. The only inconvenience was that they had no one in that location, so we had to get an Uber to take us back to Ripley’s Believe or Not Museum and then back to the parking spot. Essentially, we “paid” for parking, which wasn’t the smartest move.
A few tips…
- Go on a Saturday. The city of St. Augustine offers a free park and ride shuttle every Saturday in December. The shuttle will operate this year from 1-11 p.m. from two parking locations.
- Make sure that if you go on a tour, they offer free shuttles and parking.
- Most of the Nights of Lights tours are not hop-on, hop-off, so if this is something you are looking for, make sure to ask the company if this is something they offer.
The Nights of Lights is a wonderful experience and it absolutely lights up the city. The event is free, but you do need to pay for parking if you do not do a tour.
There’s plenty of parking in St. Augustine, but if you’re not visiting on a Saturday, then you will need to pay for parking (unless you do a tour). Parking in the garage will cost about $15 for the whole day or if you decide to go with metered parking, then you will end up paying about $2.50 per hour. I will say that Christmas in St. Augustine can be a little crazy, especially with the amount of people that visit during the holidays, so do expect parking to be packed!
Restaurants and Bars
St. Augustine has plenty of restaurants and bars. Since we decided to go on Christmas Eve, a lot of places were closed, but there were still quite a few places opened. Be prepared to make a line, if you go during Nights of Lights.
Christmas in St.Augustine was very much enjoyable and can’t wait to go back! Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit before Nights of Lights ends.
If you do end up going to St. Augustine for Christmas, then have a Merry St. Augustine Christmas!
Disclaimer: I did receive a complimentary pass and half off my guest passes for the Ripley’s Red Train, but all opinions are my own and always will be.