The oldest continuously occupied European institution in the US, St Augustine was established by the Spanish in 1565 CE. Today, its 144-block famous National Historic Landmark District is a significant tourist destination. For the most part, St Augustine oozes charm and preserves its integrity. However, there’s no disputing the appearance of some tacky tourist traps: miniature theme parks, tour executives at almost every turn, and horse-drawn buggies clip-clopping past townsfolk dressed in traditional costume.
What makes St Augustine, so amazingly endearing is the easy accessibility of its harmonious history via infinite top-notch museums and the authenticity of its beautiful centuries-old monuments, architecture, and narrow cobbled lanes. Unlike Florida’s unlimited historical theme parks, St Augustine is the real deal.
You’ll find a diverse array of excellent B&Bs, homey cafes, and lamp-lit pubs, and while fine dining might not be the first thing that comes to mind at Florida’s mention, it is undoubtedly synonymous with St Augustine.
Top Attractions in St Augustine:
Alligator Farm Zoological Park
People scared of crocodiles should run in the opposite direction of this park – the only one on the planet with every crocodilian species residing happily. Crocodiles lovers, on the other hand, will cherish it. Look for gorgeous gharials, albino alligators, and seven different endangered monkey species, including the world’s smallest and the most adorable, the pygmy marmoset. There are shows and talks throughout the day; don’t forget to catch hungry alligators fastening their big jaws at feeding times.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
This photogenic fort is an airy monument to longevity: it’s the nation’s oldest masonry fort, built by the Spanish in 1695 CE. In its days, the defense has been attacked twice and changed hands between countries six times – from Spain to Britain to Spain Part II to the United States to the Confederate States of America to the United States again. Experienced park rangers lead programs daily and blast off cannons on weekends.
St Augustine Beach
This white-sand beach essentially gets lost in the mix, but hey, it’s Florida, so a vacation wouldn’t be perfect without a little bit of surf under the sun. There’s a tourist information booth at the foot of St. Johns Pier, where you can hire a rod and reel. About two blocks south of the pier, the edge of A St has – as Florida goes – some brilliant waves.
Things to do in St. Augustine:
- Water Sports: An affordable canoe, kayak, pedal boat, and sailboat rental located within the lovely Anastasia State Park.
- Picnic: Davenport Park is a nice little park situated a little outside downtown Saint Augustine. It houses a carousel offering $1 rides for all ages—a great place to take a picnic and unwind.
- First Friday Art Walk: Explore the town’s galleries and encounter a night of new exhibits, art, music, and entertainment on the first Friday of every month.
- Nightly Walking Tours: It is open every day. It houses themed walking tours featuring ghosts and tales, scandal, romance, politicians & murder, adventures, pirates, and explorers.