Narrow brick streets, picturesque buildings, history on every corner, and horse-drawn carriages. This is what you’ll get when you visit St. Augustine, Florida. Established by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. This beautiful city is full of centuries-old buildings, years of history, and European touches that add to the city’s charm.
About an hour and a half from Orlando, St. Augustine is a great city to visit for a day or even longer if you decide to stay in the area. Since I live about an hour away, my husband and I decided to visit for the day. However, it was not our first time visiting St. Augustine, and it definitely will not be our last.
If this is your first visit or you live in the area looking for new things to do in St. Augustine, check out the ultimate guide below for all the things you can do, see and eat in St. Augustine, Florida.
When to visit St. Augustine, Florida
The Sunshine State offers visitors pleasant weather year-round, and though St. Augustine offers a variety of events throughout the year, there are certain months that are the best times to visit St. Augustine. While I do love to go to St. Augustine during the summer, which is May-August, May tends to get busy and June is when the hurricane season starts. If you’re traveling to Florida, I never recommend traveling during hurricane season.
Due to the holidays, October, November, and December are packed full of people, especially if you’re going for the Nights of Lights, which is a must during the Christmas holiday. However, if you’re looking for comfortable weather, and more opportunities to explore without all the crowds and no rain, then I recommend visiting St. Augustine after the holidays in the months of January – February and also during April-May when the spring breakers are long gone. October is also a good month, but because of Halloween, the streets get really crowded with tourists excited to go on ghost tours and haunted trolleys.
Where to stay in St. Augustine, Florida
While I did not stay in St. Augustine on my recent trip, I have stayed a handful of times in St. Augustine. I usually pick hotels outside of the historic district only because I find it cheaper, but if your budget allows it, I recommend staying in the historic district for the views. The beach is also a good spot to stay, but it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Courtyard by Marriott St. Augustine I-95
While this hotel is about 15 minutes away from the historic district, I’ve had a good experience staying here. One of the reasons I had chosen this location was the cost of the stay, which was very budget-friendly.
Address: 2075 State Road 16, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
Casa Monica Resort & Spa
I have yet to stay in Casa Monica Resort, but I have been there and I must say this resort is absolutely breathtaking. Aside from that, I have only heard good things about this place from people who have stayed in this resort. If you’re looking to treat yourself during your trip, this is a great spot to stay in.
Address: 95 Cordova Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine – Vilano Beach
Although it’s not as fancy as the Casa Monica Resort, the Hampton Inn offers visitors a gorgeous view. If that’s not enough, this hotel is a 4-minute walk from Vilano Beach and a 9-minute drive from the historic city.
Address: 95 Vilano Rd, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Getting around St. Augustine, Florida
In order to get from Orlando to St. Augustine, we drove there. However, if you’re looking to get around St. Augustine, the best way is by taking a trolley. There are a couple of trolleys you can take – Red Train Tours and the Old Town Trolley Tours.
While most visitors will drive to their destination, it is best to take one of the trolleys, especially during the holiday season. During our visit, we ended up parking by the Authentic Old Jail and took the Old Town Trolley Tours, which offers all day on and off reboarding at 22 stops.
The old Town Trolley Tours ticket also includes free admission to St. Augustine History Museum, a free beach bus shuttle to the alligator farm and the beach, and a complimentary hotel shuttle service.
Things to do in St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is full of museums, attractions and so much more! No matter how many times I’ve been to St. Augustine, I still haven’t done everything this beautiful city has to offer. If you’re able to stay for a week, you may be able to fit half of everything they offer.
Authentic Old Jail
Our first stop in St. Augustine was the Authentic Old Jail. What I love about the location of the Authentic Old Jail is that you can get tickets for the Old Town Trolley Tours in this same area. There’s also the Oldest Store Museum and some other stores to check out. When going to the Authentic Old Jail, you will be led into the jail by a guide, who happens to be dressed as a prisoner. Here you’ll learn the history of the jail and even hear some stories of things that happened in the jail.
During my time there, I also found out that they were offering a night tour, where participants are allowed on an actual paranormal investigation of the jail. It is said that the Old Jail is haunted and is listed on the Florida and National Register of Haunted Places.
Castillo de San Marcos
If your intention is to visit all the haunted places in St. Augustine, then this should be next on your list. Many flock to this beautiful fort to investigate the inexplicable accounts some have reported, but even if you’re not interested in the haunted places, this is still a great place to visit.
The oldest masonry fort, Castillo de San Marcos was built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route. While I may not be a history buff, I did enjoy my time at the Castillo de San Marcos and the views from the fort are absolutely breathtaking.
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
My husband and I finally got to explore the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. I was wary about visiting because I didn’t think I’d find much in the park, but this was such a wonderful place to visit. Aside from walking around, they have demonstrations and shows in different areas of the park. Since there were quite a few we wanted to see, we spent about four hours enjoying the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. We also got to see the Fountain of Youth and learned more about the Timucua Indians. They also have a planetarium, where you can watch the show and learn how constellations were used to guide explorers on their long voyages.
My favorite part of this park was watching the cannon firing and the historic weapons presentation. If you spend half of the day at the park like we did and find yourself getting hungry, they do have some delicious food at the on-site Smoked Southern BBQ restaurant. Before we left, we did stop by the fun gift shop, where we picked up our own Fountain of Youth water to take home.
San Sebastian Winery
History may not be your thing and that’s absolutely fine! St. Augustine has so much to offer. One good spot to check out is the San Sebastian Winery. Here you’ll get to enjoy Complimentary Winery tours and wine tastings, which are offered 7 days a week. During the weekend, you can check out live music on the rooftop of the winery building, where you can also enjoy the beautiful views.
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
Pirates are a huge part of St. Augustine. A few years back, I had gone to the Old City Pirate Fest, which was so much fun! I didn’t know it was such a huge part of St. Augustine until we went into the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. While this was a fun, educational museum full of Pirate artifacts, it was interesting to learn that St. Augustine was a target for buccaneers. In fact, Robert Searle and Francis Drake both played a huge part in the history of St. Augustine. In 1688, Robert Searle sailed to St. Augustine’s harbor and created chaos in the city.
This is such a fun museum to visit and perfect for all ages. They even have a scavenger hunt around the museum for both kids and adults. Anyone who completes the scavenger hunt will get a prize at the end.
St. Augustine Distillery
If you like taking tours of distilleries and free tastings, this is the spot to visit. The St. Augustine Distillery is family owned and operated, committed to making world-class spirits using local agriculture. Here you’ll learn how they make their spirits and even learn how to make their four signature cocktails.
Ghost Tours of St. Augustine
One of my best memories of St. Augustine was going on a Haunted Pub tour, where we got to investigate the town’s most notorious haunted pubs. We got to venture into four different venues and heard some creepy stories about each one of the pubs. It was such a fun experience and I got to meet fun people on the tour. The Ghost Tours of St. Augustine offers walking tours, Haunted Pub Tour, Paranormal investigation of the Castillo de San Marcos, and Ghosts & Gravestones ‘Trolley of the Doomed’.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
We often do not hear about the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, when St. Augustine comes up, which is surprising since this is the oldest continuously running attraction. Opened in 1893, the Alligator Farm has 4 species of crocodilians, and also a variety of other reptiles, mammals, and birds. They have animal encounters, daily wildlife shows, different exhibits, and zip-lining through the zoo.
Saint George Street
This is by far one of the most popular streets in St. Augustine and this is due to all the amazing shops, restaurants, galleries, and historic attractions that reside on this street. This is also one of those streets you do not want to miss out on! I have been to St. George Street a number of times and I never get bored of this street. There is just so much to take in and explore. Not only does this street resemble the narrow, cobble-stoned streets in Europe, but you can find a lot of different restaurants offering around the world flavors. If you’re not interested in the shopping experience, then check out all the amazing history and attractions – the Old City Gates, Oldest Wooden School House, Colonial Quarter, and Pena-Peck House.
Potter’s Wax Museum
Have you ever looked at a sculpture and thought it looked realistic? Well, that’s what you’ll get at the Potter’s Wax Museum. The Potter’s Wax Museum houses over 160 wax sculptures covering a wide range of real and fictitious figures. You’ll even find that the wax sculptures look like the real deal. Besides the wax sculptures, what is so fascinating about the Potter’s Wax Museum is that it is housed inside the oldest pharmacy in the United States.
If you find yourself looking at the Lightner Museum, do not skip out on this gorgeous building. This 1887 Spanish Renaissance Revival-style building has a wide collection of antiques. Even if you’re not in antiques, it’s still a great place to wander around. They also have events from time to time such as Yoga in the Garden and their Holiday Market.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
Standing 165 feet above sea level, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum offers visitors a beautiful view of the ocean. While you can explore the Lighthouse on your own, they do offer tours. They have the sunset tour and dark of the moon tour. If you like haunted places, taking the moon tour will give you the opportunity to conduct your own paranormal investigation.
Where to eat in St. Augustine, Florida
There are a couple of Kookaburra locations around St. Augustine, which are close to downtown and the beach area. This awesome Australian-inspired cafe has a variety of coffee, but they also have Aussie pies! They have different types of Aussie pies – meat-filled, Thai Chicken Chili, Veggie Coconut Curry, and more. Although they don’t have much of a lunch menu, you don’t want to miss out on the pies. They do have pastries as well as teas if you don’t like coffee.
Kings Head British Pub
One of the first places my husband and I ever went to was the King’s Head British Pub. If you’re looking for authentic British cuisine, this is the place to visit. Not only is the food on point, but the decorations make you feel like you’ve been transported to England.
Here you’ll find bangers & mash, cottage pies, fish and chips, and much more. They are closed Monday and Tuesday but are open Wednesday through Sunday.
Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House
My husband and I love British and Irish food, which is why we ended up at Meehan’s Irish Pub. Meehan’s Irish Pub is in a great location with wonderful views of the river. They also have a garden-like back patio.
A1A Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom
If you’re looking for a place that serves American fare, A1A Ale Works is a great spot to check out. This place not only serves delicious sandwiches and steak, but they also have seasonal beers.
There’s so much more to St. Augustine, Florida. If you haven’t been there yet, this is your sign to visit.
Disclaimer: I did receive complimentary VIP passes from St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau to visit these places, but all opinions are my own.