One of the most talked about, best Florida destinations, St. Augustine is home to the oldest European settlement in the continental United States. The entire state of Florida is rich in history, but there is a significant portion of that history born from the happenings in St. Augustine (or Saint Augustine, if you prefer). Located on the northeast coastline with the Atlantic Ocean nudging against its many beaches, this city established in 1565, is a mash-up of scenery, from seashores with clear-blue ocean views, to natural, untouched marshlands crawling with gators and snakes, to a booming nightlife of live music, street performers, and boardwalk cafes in the inner city.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a must-see for history buffs to this part of Florida. Erected on Anastasia Island in 1874, the lighthouse features a distinctive swirl in black and white, with a spiral staircase, an observation deck, and a small museum built onto the front. Soak up some random lighthouse and St. Augustine facts from one of the knowledgeable tour guides. There are 217 steps leading to the top of the lighthouse, so wear a good pair of walking shoes with comfy soles. Climbing the steps is a challenge, so the lighthouse staff offers a small reward for whoever makes it to the top. The views from the top are more than worth the experience though. For kids, a shipyard playground offers a place to swing by the seaside or slide by the seashore.
Looking for fun things to do in St. Augustine?
Visit St. Augustine Alligator Farm
A super-popular attraction since the 1890s, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is a zoological park on Anastasia Boulevard. Get up-close views of alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles and zip-line across swampland crawling with gators in the natural habitat. Catch live animal shows to learn more about the wildlife native to St. Augustine, and Florida in general. Florida weather can get super-hot, so the Alligator Farm offers air-conditioned relief with indoor shows and concession shops. For a small extra fee, you can take a picture with a HUGE live alligator, or hold a baby alligator or snake.
Take a stroll to Anastasia State Park
If you simply want to spend a day on the beach, take a stroll to Anastasia State Park. There are natural sand dunes and beaches galore, with kayak and canoe rentals, nature paths, sandy hiking trails, and a convenient, comfortable campground. Spend the night staring at the stars, while listening to the waves roll in off the coastlines. Be advised: pack some non-perishable snacks and water, and consider grabbing a healthy, yummy lunch at the on-site café as well.
Tour the St. Augustine Distillery
Housed in a building that once was home to Florida's first commercial ice block plant in 1907, the St. Augustine Distillery is part of the Lincolnville Neighborhood, named on the National Register of Historical Places. Using local ingredients such as corn, citrus, sugar cane, and wheat, small batches of spirits including gin, vodka, bourbon and rum are produced. Tour the distillery Mon-Sun 10:30 AM - 5 PM and receive a free tasting. There's also a gift shop selling mixers, drinking and shot glasses, barware, tea towels, and specialty snacks, so pick up a memento to commemorate your visit.
Feast your eyes on the Castillo de San Marcus
See the 17th century construction of a masonry fortress —the oldest in the United States and only one of two constructed by a semi-rare limestone referred to as coquina extracted from North East Florida. Originally constructed by the Spanish using 400,000 blocks of stone to safeguard their new American empire, walls are 9 to 15 feet thick and taper toward the top of the humongous structure. Take a self-guided walk through the large walled fortress to explore rooms and plazas. And, at various times, re-enactments take place on the property.
Housed on nearly 20 acres, expect to spend some time here learning about cannons, the four diamond shaped bastions, and how the fortress was used during different eras. There are bathrooms on site, and most of the park is wheelchair accessible except for the upper gunnery which can only be reached using stairs. Pets are not allowed inside the structure (only outside on a leash) and weekends are quite busy, so plan accordingly.
Talk to the Animals at St. Augustine Wild Reserve
Arrange a visit to the St. Augustine Wild Reserve, a non-profit center for exotic pets that were given up by former owners. Learn about and view tigers, bears, Arctic wolves, small mammals, and chicks and birds, to name a few. The facility offers tours by appointment only at 2:00 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Book your tour online.
After a day of leisure and fun, courtesy of this reliable info from TravNow, head back to one of top recommended St. Augustine hotels, such as the Jaybird’s Inn, Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Best Western Spanish Quarters Inn, and Edgewater Inn.
Jaybird’s Inn—just off of North Ponce de Leon Boulevard in St. Augustine, is a classic hotel with a next door restaurant, on-site bar and lounge, free parking for guests and a fitness center. Eat a complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby or purchase a full service breakfast in Jaybird's Restaurant. Their high online rankings have earned them a spot as the second best hotel for business professionals to this area of Florida. Room-wise, their suites are spacious and well-equipped, with a kitchenette, air-conditioning systems, well-supplied bathrooms, and comfortable, queen-size beds.
The exterior boasts an old Spanish architecture, while the interior décor and amenities are all modern. Other accommodations include a swimming pool, self-serve laundry rooms and vending machines, along with a business center and free high-speed internet access. Hop on the Red Train Tour for a storytelling adventure around St. Augustine. Be sure to bring your camera to capture historic memories, and perhaps a ghost or two.
Casa Monica Resort & Spa
On Cordova Street, the Casa Monica Resort & Spa is a luxurious, indulgent hotel, perfect for couples, romantics, honeymooners, and newlyweds. The suites are spacious and well-furnished, with huge, comfortable beds, beautiful private balconies, and free high-speed internet with basic cable access.
The hotel itself features a beautiful exterior, with a gigantic fountain in the front courtyard and a winding driveway. Reminiscent of a mansion, there are 138 suites, as well as a swimming pool and indoor hot tub, an on-site restaurant, lounge, and bar, a workout o, and dry-cleaning services. Guests can also book a celebration in the banquet room, or utilize concierge services to plan the rest of your trip around St. Augustine.
For your morning cup of fresh-brewed, delicious coffee, take a stroll to The Kookaburra, which is within walking distance of the hotel. Or, unwind with on-site spa services, such as pedicures, manicures, facials, and massages.
The Best Western Spanish Quarters Inn
The Best Western Spanish Quarters Inn on West Castillo Drive is a classic hotel with basic, simple amenities for an uninterrupted, pleasant stay in St. Augustine. Breakfast is served hot and ready in the dining room every morning while a courteous, speedy service staff ensures you are well-equipped with a daily supply of fluffed towels, clean linens, and fresh blankets. Other amenities include an outdoor swimming pool with surrounding lounge chairs, free high-speed wireless internet, a business center with a meeting room, and self-serve laundry facilities. In terms of rooms, expect homey amenities, such as a kitchenette with a mini fridge and microwave, a comfortable queen-size bed, and an adjustable air-condition system.
Take a walk to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not when you get the chance. This branch of the famed museum features unbelievable sights, amazing facts, and aisles of fun, interactive, often odd exhibits.
The Edgewater Inn
The Edgewater Inn, located on North Saint Augustine Boulevard, earned the Certificate of Excellence several years in a row for being a best hotel in St. Augustine. Their high praise and higher rankings come from over 350 positive reviews, each noting a highlight of the hotel’s excellent customer service, comfortable accommodations, and pleasant atmosphere.
The on-site bar and lounge is a big hit with a nightly happy hour, while family-friendly activities are offered in the summertime. Other amenities include a continental breakfast of hot waffles, cereals, sandwiches, and coffee, as well as a swimming pool, free high-speed internet, and a romantic view of the Bridge of Lions.
As a matter of fact, in your downtime, take a walk across the Bridge of Lions. Look down at the water below and you might see a shark, small whale, or pod of curious dolphins.
Come to the old city of St. Augustine and discover something completely new! Book now. Save now. TravNow!