St. Augustine at night

Founded 450 years ago, St. Augustine, FL, is home to important historic landmarks, diverse museums, romantic inns and unique attractions such as Castillo de San Marcos and Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Plan a weekend getaway and explore the beautiful city on their own, or take a tour with one of the knowledgeable local guides. Here are the best things to do in St. Augustine, FL. Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia

1.Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay and is one of the most popular St. Augustine attractions. The Spanish, who saw the need to fortify what was then a tiny garrison town, built the Castillo between 1672 and 1695. Today, Castillo de San Marcos is a National Monument situated on 20.5 acres of beautiful green spaces that make the park truly astounding. The Park incorporates a reconstructed part of the wall surrounding St. Augustine, FL along with the original gate into the city.

Bring the kids to explore the fort's casements, see the exhibition of weapons, or watch actors in period costumes who offer demonstrations of historical weapons and reenact the life of the colonists who once lived in the area. Talk to the Park Rangers about the Castillo, its history, and the people who used to live there.

1 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, Florida Photo: Felix Mizioznikov/Fotolia

2.The Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, FL

The Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, FL

The Lightner Museum is housed in the historic Hotel Alcazar on King Street in downtown Saint Augustine. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the hotel was built in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. The building features an open courtyard, palm trees, and a fishpond with a stone arch bridge.

The museum’s collection emphasizes historic items from the Victorian period in particular. Visitors can see a Victorian village on the first floor, the Victorian Science and Industry Room, and a music room full of instruments. The second floor, on the other hand, is devoted to glass, including Tiffany stained glass, while the third floor contains furniture, paintings, and sculptures.

75 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida, 904-824-2874 Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia

3.St. Augustine Alligator Farm

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park was established in 1893 as a small Florida reptile exhibition, and it soon became a popular Florida attraction. Today, it is a modern accredited zoo on Anastasia Island that has all the species of the crocodilians still alive in the world today. St. Augustine Alligator Farm is the only crocodile farm in the world that has specimens from all 23 species of crocodilians recognized by biologists. If you are interested in animals, this is one of the top things to do in St. Augustine.

The best way to see them all is by Crocodile Crossing, the Alligator Farm’s zip-line. You will literally zip over the whole park and see live crocodilians, tropical birds, and lemurs in their habitats from the air without disturbing them.

999 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine, FL, 904-824-3337 Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/Fotolia

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4.Old City, St. Augustine, Florida

Old City, St. Augustine, Florida

With its perfect climate, the Old City is a wonderful and fascinating place to explore. Cobblestone streets line the old city, which is full of historic landmarks like the Castillo de San Marcos, museums like the Lightner Museum, bars, cafes, inns, and shops.

If you are looking for date night ideas in St. Augustine, there are historic walking tours, horse-drawn carriage tours, and a sightseeing trolley train. One of the most interesting historical sights is Old St. Augustine Village. This one square city block consists of a group of nine houses that date from 1790 to 1910. In addition to the houses, there are beautiful gardens and courtyards as well as five exhibit galleries. Photo: anluni/Fotolia

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5.The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, St. Augustine, FL

The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, St. Augustine, FL

The Ximenez-Fatio House was originally built in 1798 as a home for the Ximenez family. This lovely coquina stone architectural gem became a fashionable St. Augustine’s boarding house that offered lodging to many more or less distinguished guests. It is open to the public as a museum showcasing the way of life in Florida in the early 19th century during the original Florida tourist boom.

All rooms have been restored and are meticulously preserved. Each room tells a story about a particular type of visitor that stayed in the boarding house: adventurers, pirates, sick people recovering in Florida’s balmy climate, soldiers, sailors, botanists, and all other kinds of early tourists.

20 Aviles Street, St. Augustine, Florida, 904-829-3575 Photo: The Ximenez-Fatio House

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6.Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument

The Spanish built the small fort of Fort Matanzas in 1742 when they ruled Florida. Fort Matanzas guarded Matanzas Inlet, effectively watching over St. Augustine’s southern river bank, while the much larger and stronger Castillo de San Marcos protected the north. The fort is a national monument today and serves as an exciting destination for exploring the early and violent history of Florida.

Visitors can explore fairly well preserved fort ramparts, officer’s quarters, gunpowder room, and its five original cannons. Fort Matanzas is part of a large 100-acres park, and a boardwalk provides a half-mile long path through the mangrove forest, offering a glimpse of a barrier island ecosystem, a live fort that today protects the coast from violent storms.

8635 A1A South, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-471-0116 Photo: its all good/Fotolia

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7.St. George Street & Beyond

St. George Street & Beyond

For most visitors, St. George Street is St. Augustine’s main attraction. There is so much to do and see here that many visitors never get a chance to explore the surrounding cobblestone streets and other nearby areas. Get a taste of what else St. Augustine has to offer by starting your exploration at the narrow, brick-paved Charlotte Street. Take a tour of the Oldest House, which has been standing there since the1600s.

On Hypolita Street, you can visit the Spice and Tea Exchange of St. Augustine. A few more minutes of walking will take you to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park on Magnolia Avenue and Tolomato Cemetery as well as Grace United Methodist Church, a stunning piece of architecture on Cordova Street. You cannot possibly see everything in one visit, so you will just have to come back. Photo: rossforsyth/Fotolia

8.Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park

About five miles south of historic, charming St. Augustine lies Anastasia State Park, which takes you to another world of pristine beaches, ancient dunes, tidal marshes, and dense mangroves. The park consists of 1,600 acres of incredibly rich ecosystems full of wildlife. If you are wondering what to do in St Augustine with active kids, this is a great idea.

You can spend a day swimming, beachcombing, hiking, bird watching, or just taking in the scenery and contemplating the richness of nature. You can stay the night in one of the 139 campsites and rent a bike, kayak, paddleboard, or sailboat. There is even a grill area for a delicious beach lunch or dinner.

300 Anastasia Park Road, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-461-2033

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9.Colonial Quarter, St. Augustine, FL

Colonial Quarter, St. Augustine, FL

Formerly known as the Colonial Spanish Quarter, the Colonial Quarter opened in 2013 after a major renovation project. It is located at 33 St George Street in downtown Saint Augustine. The quarter opened in 1963 as a living museum devoted to showing life in the city in the 1740s when the area was under Spanish control.

Today, visitors can tour the two-acre Colonial Quarter with its many historical buildings, shops, and restaurants. If you are wondering what to see in St. Augustine, this is a great place to visit. Private parties and group events are hosted at the historic De Mesa Sanchez House built in the 1740s. There are several tours available such as the Historic Adventure Tour, school tours, and group tours, as well as summer camps for children.

33 St George Street, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-342-2857 Photo: linkpusher/Fotolia

10.St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

A visit to the Pirate and Treasure Museum in St. Augustine is a must for all adventure seekers. This beautiful old building across the Castillo St. Angelo offers a glimpse into the thrilling and bloody era when piracy thrived and treasures were plundered from ships across the seven seas. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of real pirate treasures and artifacts. It has several fascinating and interactive multimedia exhibits such as Blackbeard’s last battle.

Visitors can see the real pirate treasure chest and some original shipwreck treasures borrowed from the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Museum is fabulous venue for treasure hunting parties, kids’ birthday parties, and many other events.

12 S Castillo Dr, Saint Augustine, Florida, 877-467-5863 Photo: St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

11.Catch 27, St. Augustine, Florida

Catch 27, St. Augustine, Florida

Located on charming Hypolita Street in old St. Augustine, Catch 27 is the place to go for fresh and delectable seafood. Enjoy selections like snapper, mahi mahi, sheepshead, triggerfish, flounder, black drum, shrimp, clams, or any other tasty catches that end up in the nets of the local fisherman that morning. Everything is prepared from scratch with fresh, seasonal and local produce.

The restaurant is intimate, trendy, and inviting with subtle décor, allowing you to direct your attention to the great food. Don’t miss authentic shrimp and grits with bacon and cheddar, a favorite with the locals. The restaurant has a small selection of beers and wines and you are welcome to bring your own if you like. Read more

17 Hypolita St., Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-217–8190 Photo: Catch 27

12.The St. Augustine Amphitheatre

The St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Located just off A1A and adjacent to the Anastasia State Park, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre was built in 1965 to celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary. Sitting on 16 acres, the amphitheater is an outdoor venue for concerts and other events and seats more than 4,000 people.

The amphitheater underwent renovations starting in 2002 and re-opened in 2007 with additions such as a plaza, a conference room, a concession and merchandise area, walking trails, and much more. The Old City Farmers Market is held at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre on Saturday mornings, when visitors can buy baked goods, fresh organic produce, and fresh seafood in season, and they can also enjoy live entertainment.

1340C A1A S, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-209-3742 Photo: apandr/Fotolia

13.The Floridian, St. Augustine, Florida

The Floridian, St. Augustine, Florida

The Floridian is an inviting and popular restaurant in the center of St. Augustine’s Historic District. The casual, fun atmosphere and charming décor make guests feel right at home. Chef Genie Kepner makes traditional Southern fare using the freshest local ingredients, showing deep respect for the local producers, farmers, and artisans.

There are many vegan and vegetarian options, and guests w rave about the Fried Green Tomato Bruschetta, which is made with green tomatoes dusted with cornmeal and served on baguette smothered with herbed ricotta cheese, basil aioli, and green tomato relish.

72 Spanish St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, 904-829-0655 Photo: The Floridian/Instagram

14.Old Florida Museum

Old Florida Museum

Located on San Marco Avenue, Fort Menendez at Old Florida Museum offers public tours of the fort and the Timucuan village of Seloy, tours that explain the history of early Spanish St. Augustine. There are hands-on educational programs for children led by trained guides in period costumes.

Some of the programs include the Tinucua Indian Program, the Spanish Colonial/Fort Mose Program, the Ships and Sailors Program, and more. The museum also offers summer camps for children. The Pioneer Barn is a 1,500 square foot space that hosts business meetings, private parties, and weddings. There is also a General Store and a large covered picnic area.

259 San Marco Avenue, 904-824-8874 Photo: Old Florida Museum

15.World Golf Hall of Fame

World Golf Hall of Fame

The World Golf Hall of Fame is a museum that honors famous male and female golfers. Located at 1 World Golf Place at the World Gold Village northwest of Saint Augustine, the 35,000 square foot museum has an impressive permanent collection as well as temporary changing exhibits.

Some exhibits of interest at the museum include those centered on the history of golf, golf dress, equipment, and golf course design, and major golf players. Guests are able to visit the museum, play a round of golf on the 18-hole course, and view an IMAZ film. The museum also offers education programs.

1 World Golf Place, 904-940-4133

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16.Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Located at 11 Magnolia Avenue, Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a 15-acre park along Hospital Creek, which is a part of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. There is an artesian well on the grounds of the park, and legend has it that this is the Fountain of Youth supposedly discovered by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in the early 16th century.

There are many other attractions in the park, including the Timucuan village of Seloy, which has been partially reconstructed. Here, guides explain to guests what life was like at the time for this group of Native Americans. There is also a planetarium, a Spanish lookout tower, a gift shop, and a cafe.

11 Magnolia Avenue, 904-829-3168 Photo: SunnyS/Fotolia

17.The Whetstone Chocolate Factory Tour

The Whetstone Chocolate Factory Tour

The Whetstone Chocolate Factory Tour is a tasting tour offered by the Whetstone Chocolate Factory located on King Street. The Whetstone Chocolatiers lead guests on the “Original Chocolate Tour,” which informs them of the history of chocolate and how it is made at the factory. On the guided tour, guests are given freshly made chocolate to taste as they walk through the 10,000 square foot factory built in 1984. As the guests taste the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and cocoa nibs, the chocolatiers explain the differences between the types of chocolate and how they are made.

139 King Street, 904-217-0275 Photo: Tommy Lee Walker/Fotolia

18.The Pirate Ship Black Raven

The Pirate Ship Black Raven

Located on Avenida Menendez, the Pirate Ship Black Raven offers daily voyages, one in the mid-afternoon and one in the early evening. There are also evening voyages on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday called “Club 21+” for adults over 21 years of age. The ship can be chartered for company events and private parties, and groups are limited to 95 people. Food, or “grub,” is served on some of the voyages.

Blackbeard’s Treasure Hunt is one of several special voyages offered by the Black Raven Pirate Ship, and it allows guests to watch as the sailors engage in a sea battle with Queen Anne’s Revenge, another ship. There are sword fights and cannon fire, things that the whole family will enjoy.

111 Avenida Menendez, 904-826-0000 Photo: The Pirate Ship Black Raven

19.Salt Life Food Shack

Salt Life Food Shack

If you want to grab something to eat while working on your tan on the beautiful sandy St. Augustine beach, stop by Salt Life Food Shack. You don’t even have to get dressed up – just hop on one of their stools. The food is eclectic, and there is something for everyone at this trendy restaurant.

The food is delightfully simple, and everything is fresh and delicious. The raw bar has standard sushi rolls, ceviche, and oysters, all of which are in season. The burgers are wood grilled and the sandwiches are large and tasty. Wash it all down with one of their tall, colorful, and ice-cold cocktails or a cold beer from their varied selection.

321 A1A Beach Blvd., 904-217-3256 Photo: Salt Life Food Shack

20.St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

Visiting St. Augustine Distillery not only gives you the opportunity to taste locally made craft drinks such as rum, vodka, whiskey and gin, it also transports you into the past and history of the St. Augustine of former times. St. Augustine Distillery is located inside a meticulously renovated and reconstructed hundred-year-old ice factory. When 28 local dreamers decided to start making craft spirits, the factory provided a perfect location.

They also picked the brains of some of the world’s best distillers and made a deal with local farmers who grow sugar cane, corn, wheat, and citrus products. Then they started mashing, cooking, and distilling small quality batches of gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey. All tours are free, open to visitors over 21, and they give you the opportunity to learn how everything is made.

112 Riberia Street, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-825-4962 Photo: St. Augustine Distillery

21.Diane's Natural Market, St. Augustine, Florida

Diane's Natural Market, St. Augustine, Florida

Diane's Natural Market & Cafe has been around for more than 30 years, a testament to the idea that health sells. Offering high quality organic produce, natural supplements, and other health products, this store has been voted best in business numerous times. You can eat in the café at one of their small bistro tables or take your purchases home.

The menu changes with what is available seasonally, but you will always find hot and wholesome soups, filling sandwiches, and freshly made juices and smoothies. There is also a nice selection of books on healthy nutrition and even some healthy pet products.

240 State Road 312, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-808-9978 Photo: Diane's Natural Market

22.St. Augustine Wild Reserve

St. Augustine Wild Reserve

Not even half an hour north from the heart of the St. Augustine’s historic district lies a wild world. St. Augustine Wild Reserve is a habitat for fascinating exotic pets who needed new homes. Deborah Warrick, zoologist and the founder of the Reserve, has rescued hundreds of wild animals that started their lives as pets in people’s homes, and she now provides care for them at this reserve.

Once some realize that a wild animal is not exactly behaving as they expected and does not fit their lifestyle, they have a choice of giving them to Deborah and the St. Augustine Wild Reserve. If you visit the Reserve, you will have a chance to see tigers, bears, wolfs, lions, egrets, coatis, and much more. The goal of the Reserve is to provide a home for these animals and to educate people about what it means to have an exotic animal at home.

P.O. Box 3546, Saint Augustine, Florida, 904-940-0664 Photo: visa/Fotolia

23.Ripple Effect Ecotours

Ripple Effect Ecotours

Located in the town of Marineland Marina on Tolstoy Lane just south of Saint Augustine, Ripple Effect Ecotours is an outdoor adventure company that offers guided boat, fishing, and kayak tours. The tours take place along Florida’s coastal waterways where visitors can see birds, dolphins, manatees, salt marshes, and much more.

Guests have two choices for the guided kayak tours: the 77,000-acre Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve or Islamorada with its clear warm waters. Guides are all highly experienced professional naturalists. “Ripple Effect 1” is the jet boat that serves as an outdoor classroom in which visitors learn about wildlife and ecotourism during the boat tour.

101 Tolstoy Lane, 904-347-1565

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25 Best Things to Do in St. Augustine, Florida