Unique Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida, America’s Oldest City

If you’re looking for a fun-filled vacation destination, St. Augustine, Florida, is an excellent spot. There are plenty of things to do in America’s Oldest City. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking, fishing, and kayaking opportunities, and history buffs can explore fascinating historical sites in the area. And foodies will rejoice at the variety of delicious restaurants in St. Augustine.

Here’s a closer look at the best things to do in St. Augustine, Florida.

Visit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Exploring new destinations and learning about history is always exciting for travelers. So, if you only have time to visit one place in St. Augustine, one of the most unique spots is Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

This historic fortress sits on the coast of Florida, with beautiful ocean views, and offers a glimpse into American history. So whether you’re a history lover or are looking for a great photo op, this site is fantastic.

The monument’s thick stone walls have stood the test of time, telling stories about the days when St. Augustine was an important strategic location on the Atlantic trade route. Today visitors can explore the halls of the old castle and learn about its past.

The staff and dedicated volunteers at the monument do an incredible job of preserving this iconic structure and making it accessible and fun. From the top level of the fort, you see amazing views of St. Augustine and the surrounding area.

Looking for kid-friendly or family-friendly activities in St. Augustine, Florida? Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a great place to start.

World Golf Hall of Fame

If you are a golf fanatic, visiting the World Golf Hall of Fame should be at the top of your bucket list. The museum is filled with memorabilia from legendary golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam. If you’re a die-hard fan or love to swing a club, the World Golf Hall of Fame is a great place to spend an afternoon.

With two championship courses—King and Bear and Slammer and Squire—this golf destination is hard to beat. Legendary names like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, and Sam Snead all had a hand in designing these courses, so you are in for a real treat.

Potter’s Wax Museum

Who doesn’t love a good wax museum? When else do you have the chance to take a selfie with Tiger Woods, Austin Powers, and Michael Jackson?

Potter’s Wax Museum is the first wax museum in the nation. This quirky museum is home to dozens of lifelike wax figures that capture iconic moments from US history and popular culture.

The exhibits range from Michael Jordan and Darth Vader to some of the most iconic figures in pop culture, like Freddy Krueger and Captain Jack Sparrow. Each figure is unbelievably detailed, with realistic clothing and accessories that bring them to life.

Wandering through the museum halls feels like stepping into a scene from a movie or television show, with each sculpture so lifelike it’s hard to believe they were made from wax. 

If you want to experience a unique slice of Americana, Potter’s Wax Museum is an excellent spot, and it’s fun to rub elbows with the rich and famous—even if they are made of wax.

Old Town Trolley Tours

Old Town Trolley Tours are a great way to see St. Augustine. This memorable tour offers visitors the chance to see all of the major sights in St. Augustine. The trolleys are beautifully maintained and decked out in classic antique detailing, making them the perfect choice for sightseeing excursions.

Tours start at $36.55 for a one-day trolley. You can hop on and off the trolley as it makes its way around twenty-two stops in the historic city.

Some of the popular stops on the tour include:

  • Potter’s Wax Museum
  • Lightner Museum
  • St Augustine Distillery
  • Castillo de San Marcos

If you are in town during the holidays, you can tour America’s oldest city with the annual Night of Lights tour. This festive tour takes place during the holiday season, covering about 20 blocks of sparkling lights. It’s the perfect way to see all of St. Augustine’s twinkling lights while learning about the city’s rich history.

For adventurous types, try the Ghost and Gravestones tour for an entirely different perspective.

A trolley tour is a convenient way to explore St. Augustine and ensure you see all the good stuff.

Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With its gorgeous dunes, abundant waterways, and scenic beaches, this beautiful state park is the perfect place to explore.

The park’s water sports are a highlight, offering easy access to kayaking and fishing. Additionally, paddle boarders, canoers, and kayakers can enjoy paddling through Salt Run, an estuarine tidal marsh that teems with wildlife.

If you have your own gear, there is a kayak launch (canoes and paddle boards, too) behind the watersports building. So load up your kayak trailer with gear and take the family paddling. No gear? No problem. Rental equipment is available onsite.

If you’re looking to spend some time on firm ground, you’ll find plenty of options here, from hiking along coastal trails to scenic cycling paths. And when it comes to camping, this beloved park also delivers; 139 spacious campsites that are perfect for RVers and tent campers. Each campsite has water and electric hookups, a fire ring, and a picnic table.

Spanish Military Hospital Museum

Take a step back in time at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum and experience what life was like for military doctors hundreds of years ago. Despite its small size, this museum is jam-packed with fascinating details about the hospital’s history.

The museum is a must-see if you are a history buff or want to learn more about the area. And it’s affordable. $11.95 for adults and $5.50 for kids.

Katie is one of the tour guides here. She is incredibly knowledgeable about the hospital’s history and artifacts. She takes visitors on an informative and engaging walk through the facility – touching on everything from daily life at the hospital to famous historical figures treated there over time. So if you are looking for kid-friendly things to do in St. Augustine, stop by for a quick tour.

Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

As a tourist attraction, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is one of a kind. With its extensive collection of alligators and crocodiles, there is plenty to see and do here.

This park is committed to providing visitors with the best possible experience with state-of-the-art facilities. From its impressive collection of reptiles to its entertaining, educational programs, the Alligator Farm is a must-see for anyone visiting St. Augustine.

One of the park’s highlights is the overpass that allows visitors to walk right over the top of alligators, giving you a unique and potentially scary perspective. Additionally, there is a large kids’ area with educational games and activities and small climbing structures to keep the little ones entertained.

For adrenaline junkies, you can test your nerves on the park’s zip line. Who doesn’t want to go zip-lining with alligators lurking below?

Its central location is just over the Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island, so it’s easy to get to. Visitors can explore the alligator farm in a few short hours or as part of a long day trip exploring St. Augustine. 

The farm is $35 for adults and $20 for kids.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is a fun way to experience this historic city. The lighthouse is the oldest brick structure in St. Augustine and one of its most iconic landmarks. It stands 165 feet high with an impressive 219 steps.

The views from the top are spectacular, with panoramic views of St. Augustine’s charming streets, colorful buildings, and a beautiful coastline. The 200+ step climb to the top of the lighthouse is well worth it. You’ll enjoy the incredible feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top and take in the view of Salt Run.

If you’re looking for some historical maritime items, the Maritime Museum is perfect. The museum offers a variety of different exhibits that cover everything from shipwrecks to oceanography.

Not only that, but the staff members at the museum are friendly and helpful. And if you want to refuel or want to cap off your visit with a cold drink, stop by The Tin Pickle for a delicious hotdog or other snacks.

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

One of the highlights of visiting St. Augustine is a trip to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. This remarkable site is home to interesting flora, fauna, and peacocks. Best of all, you can drink straight from the legendary Fountain of Youth that greeted Juan Ponce de Leon when he discovered Florida in 1513. Ah, I feel younger already.

Take advantage of the exciting cannon demo, blacksmithing skills displays, and all the historic buildings from the old Spanish village on site. Plenty of other exhibits keep people busy, including excavations, Navigators Planetarium and Discovery Globe.

You’ll also find an informative museum and friendly staff happy to share their knowledge. I am sure you will love exploring all corners of this beautiful park and meeting the friendly staff who know this place inside and out.

Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

Arrr matey, I hope ye be ready for some swashbuckling fun! The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is the perfect destination for any wannabe pirate or history buff. This unique museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of pirate artifacts, including everything from authentic weaponry and treasure to maps and ship models. 

Some of the most famous items on display in the museum are gold pieces found on Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. The museum also has an interactive exhibit that lets you experience what it was like to be a pirate first-hand.

Interested in learning about the legends of pirating like Robert Searles or Sir Francis Drake, or want to marvel at the treasures once lost at sea? This museum is a must-see. And at just $18 for adults and $10 for kids, the museum is a great spot for family fun.

Oldest Wooden School House

No visit to St. Augustine is complete without a stop at the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. This charming little structure is one of the oldest in Florida and has been beautifully preserved.

The schoolhouse was established in the late 1700s and gives visitors a glimpse into the homestead and school life of the Minorcan Settlers. Today, the schoolhouse is open to the public and serves as a museum.

The museum is small but very well done, and it’s a great way to learn about the early history of St. Augustine. The friendly staff is happy to answer any questions and even offers tours of the schoolhouse.

Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for kids for a self-guided tour. So if you’re looking for a unique educational experience, check out the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. It’s an excellent place for both kids and adults.

Medieval Torture Museum

If you’re interested in history and all things gory, a trip to the Medieval Torture Museum in St. Augustine is a must.

But, the Medieval Torture Museum is not for the faint of heart. This gruesome museum is dedicated to the torture devices used during the middle ages, and it’s not for the squeamish.

The museum is home to an impressive collection of torture devices used during the Middle Ages. With hundreds of exhibits on display, this museum is truly one-of-a-kind, offering a deep and detailed look at some of the most gruesome torture devices of old.

This unique collection contains hundreds of fascinating exhibits, including manacles and thumbscrews, iron maidens and rack torture devices, stretching racks, and guillotines. And the museum offers an audio guide that allows you to hear first-hand accounts from those who witnessed these tortures firsthand.

Whether you’re a hardened history buff or someone who enjoys exploring the darker side of human civilization, there’s no better place than the torture museum. 

As they say: those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. 

Augustine Wild Reserve

The St. Augustine Wild Reserve is a must-see for nature lovers. This beautiful reserve is home to various animals, including leopards, lions, tigers, wolves, and bears.

The reserve was founded to provide a safe home and a second chance for some of the world’s most vulnerable animals. They have been injured or abused and can no longer live in the wild alone. From Bengal tigers to lions and elephants, this impressive reserve offers a rare chance to see these majestic creatures up close.

The thing that makes this place unique is that visitors can get so close to these exotic animals. The philosophy is that people will better understand the animals by interacting with them in their natural environment.

Moreover, the animal caregivers are excellent guides who take the time to share interesting facts and anecdotes about each animal in their care. And best of all, a visit to the reserve only costs $35 per person, making it a great deal for tourists on a budget.

San Sebastian Winery

Wine lovers rejoice! San Sebastian Winery is the perfect place to taste some of Florida’s finest wines. This award-winning winery offers a variety of wines, including sparkling and dessert wines.

San Sebastian Winery is the second oldest winery in Florida, making wine since 1996 and winning numerous awards. This beautiful winery offers a variety of wines made from grapes grown at their 75-acre vineyard in Clermont, FL.

The winery also has self-guided wine tours, so you can learn about wine-making while enjoying some of their vino.

This charming winery is perfect for tourists and locals, offering live music, a cozy ambiance, and some truly delicious cuisine. Of particular note are the BLTs—easily one of the best sandwiches you will taste.

City Gate Spirits

Looking for an authentic experience in the Nation’s Oldest City? City Gate Spirits is the place to go. With its rustic charm and hand-crafted specialty cocktails, this eclectic bar has become a favorite among tourists and locals.

If you’re into whiskey tastings or classic mixed drinks, City Gate Spirits is the spot. And with its prime location in the heart of St. Augustine, you will have a great time exploring the city. If you’re not a whiskey lover, don’t worry—they also offer vodka, rum, and mixed drinks.

No matter what your taste, City Gate Spirits is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

This beautiful fort is located just outside St. Augustine. Visitors can explore the historic site and beautiful natural landscapes.

Fun fact: Fort Matanzas is made from coquina, the same thing Castillo de San Marcos is made of, and it was built to protect the city from attacks.

Fort Matanzas offers a great outdoor experience with magnificent dunes, thick forests, and tropical marshes. And if you’re interested in history, you’ll love getting close to the ancient watchtower that once guarded against enemy attacks along the coastline.

Arrive early so you can get tickets for the boat ride across the bay. This will ensure you don’t have to worry about waiting in line or missing out on this unique experience. The best part? This boat ride is completely free!

Another thing, you’ll always be accompanied by friendly and knowledgeable park rangers to make the most of your visit.

Electric Cart Tour of St. Augustine

An electric cart tour is a great way to experience St. Augustine. Private guided tours are available for small groups of tourists, sharing insights into America’s Oldest City. Learn about the city’s colonial past or explore the lovely architecture of its historic buildings.

St Augustine Gold Tours include the Private Nights of Lights Tour and the previously mentioned Private Guided Tours. Whichever tour you choose, you will enjoy seeing the beautiful sites in St. Augustine from the comfort of an electric cart.

St. Augustine Ghost Tours

A St. Augustine ghost tour is a great way to experience the city’s unique history and spooky legends. The city is known for its many ghosts, and there are plenty of ways to experience a ghostly encounter.

One popular option is the Ghosts and Gravestones tour, which takes place on a trolley. Hop on a trolley to learn about the city’s haunted history and see some of its most popular sights.

With witty guides who know all the city’s best stories and hidden secrets, you’ll see St. Augustine in a new light. If you’re looking for spine-tingling chills or hearty laughs, get onboard.

Lightner Museum

The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida, is a must for art and history lovers. Founded by prolific collector and hobbyist Otto C. Lightner in 1948, the museum has an impressive collection of art, artifacts, and historical objects.

Visitors will appreciate displays ranging from Tiffany crystal to a nickelodeon. There are three floors of art to enjoy, and the staff is always happy to help guide visitors through the exhibits. The museum also has a cafe and a gift shop, making it the perfect place to explore everything from American art to 19th-century furniture.

With such a wide variety of exhibits, you’ll want to spend at least two hours here. If you’re an art junkie, that might not even be long enough.

Kayaking and Paddle Boarding St. Augustine

A trip to St. Augustine isn’t complete without spending some quality time on the water. Whether you are into kayaking or paddle boarding, there are many opportunities to paddle around St. Augustine.

Some great places to paddle include:

Helen Mellon Schmitt Park is a great place to launch and paddle intercoastal waterways.

Salt Run at Anastasia State Park is an excellent place for beginners to paddle. There are rentals available if you don’t have gear. If you feel up to it, you can head up the Matanzas River past the lighthouse towards the historic St. Augustine district.

Faver Dykes State Park is a beautiful estuary with freshwater and saltwater fish. It is a great spot to see birds and other wildlife.

Paddling around St. Augustine gives you a different perspective, and you can see many historical sites from the water.

And with rentals available from many local companies, it’s easy to explore this coastal city from the water.

Spend a day at the beach

St. Augustine is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. With its white sand and crystal blue water, people flock here to soak up the sun. So if you enjoy swimming, fishing, sunbathing, or just chilling, St. Augustine’s beaches are worth a visit.

Ponte Vedra Beach

Ponte Vedra Beach is one of the most popular beaches in St. Augustine. This beach is known for its luxury resorts and its world-famous golf courses. Ponte Vedra Beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the Florida sun. It’s also a great place to surf, paddle board, and kayak. If you want an upscale beach experience, this is your spot.

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach lacks the crowds and glitz of Ponte Vedra Beach, which makes it unique. This beach is a terrific place to find shells, build sandcastles, and enjoy the ocean’s peacefulness. Sure, you can enjoy watersports like surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, and boogie boarding, but sometimes it’s just nice to relax on the beach with a good book. Other activities include beach volleyball, playing frisbee, or taking a long walk on the beach.

Anastasia State Park

Here we go again with Anastasia State Park. Crystal clear waters and gentle surf make this beach a great place to swim, paddle board, and kayak. The white sand and natural dunes make this beach one of the most beautiful in St. Augustine. Anastasia State Park is also great for bird-watching, hiking, and picnicking.

Biking

St. Augustine is a wonderful place to explore on two wheels. There are many bike trails in and around St. Augustine, most of which are easy, family-friendly paths.

The city is bike-friendly, with many dedicated bike lanes and bicycle racks throughout the area. Most local bike shops provide maps with key sites and guided group bike tours that take you all over town.

One great place to ride your bike is along Anastasia Boulevard, which starts just east of downtown near the famous Bridge of Lions. Anastasia boulevard has plenty of dedicated bike paths.

Other great places to bike around St. Augustine include:

Anastasia State Park is great if you enjoy riding on the beach, roads, or dedicated bike lanes. Bike rentals are available in the park if needed.

Mala Compra Plantation Greenway Trail starts at Bing’s Landing and is 5.5 miles long. It’s best for mountain bikers and has occasional climbs.

Boating

What’s a trip to a beautiful coastal city without a little boating? St. Augustine has many great options for those who love being on the water.

Take a boat tour or book a charter to get a different perspective of St. Augustine.

St. Augustine Boat Tours has several options when it comes to setting sail. The Dolphin/Wildlife tour explores wildlife in the intercoastal waterways and Matanzas Bay.

The popular Sunset cruise is a great way to end the day and take in the views of the city as the sun sets.

The Nights of Lights tour is a must-do if you visit St. Augustine during the holidays. This tour takes you through the city to see all the best holiday light displays.

And for those who want a little more adventure, private charters can be customized to your group’s needs.

Fishing

Fishing is a popular activity in St. Augustine, and there are many great spots to drop a line. One of the best places to fish is the St. Johns County Ocean & Fishing Pier south of Anastasia State Park.

Fishing passes are available at the pier, and a bait and tackle shop is on site. The pier is a great place to fish for everything from King Mackerel to Tarpon.

Many charter companies offer half-day and full-day trips if you want to go offshore. These charters will take you to the best spots for deep-sea fishing, where you can try to catch mahi-mahi, tuna, swordfish, and more.

If you want to venture out on your own, there are many great spots to catch salt and freshwater fish around St. Augustine. Just make sure to get a Florida fishing license before you go!

Hit the Links

Home of the World Golf Hall of Fame, St. Augustine, Florida, is no stranger to the game of golf. The city is home to many golf courses that will challenge players of all skill levels.

Some of the best courses in St. Augustine include:

The King & Bear at World Golf Village – This course was co-designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, two legends of the game.

The Slammer & Squire at World Golf Village – Another great course at World Golf Village, The Slammer & Squire, an 18-hole course, was designed in part by Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen.

St. Johns Golf & Country Club – This private club features 18 holes and has served as the PGA Tour Qualifying School (aka Q school) host.

St. Augustine attracts tourists worldwide who enjoy sunny days on the greens and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its proximity to several other high-profile courses, St. Augustine is a golfer’s paradise. Whether you’re an experienced player or just starting on your first 18 holes, you will find a golf course to challenge you.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum is one of the most fun and family-friendly things to do in St. Augustine, Florida. From odd and unique artifacts like shrunken heads to larger-than-life animatronic monsters, Ripley’s is the spot.

One word…wacky. That’s a great way to describe Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. This place is full of the weird, the unusual, and the just plain bizarre. But that’s what makes it so much fun!

The museum is located in the heart of St. Augustine’s Historic District and is within walking distance of many other attractions. Ripley’s also offers a variety of discounts, including Red Train Tours.

Experience Intercoastal Waterways

One of the best ways to experience St. Augustine is from the water. Many charter companies offer tours, including scenic cruises, fishing trips, dolphin watching, and more.

Intercoastal waterways are a great spot to see dolphins playing and many charter companies offer dolphin-watching tours where you can see these amazing creatures up close.

Charter companies offer jet skiing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing if you want a more active adventure. These tours are great for families or groups of friends who want to spend some time on the water.

Kayak and paddle board rentals are also available if you want to explore the waterways at your own pace. There are many great spots to paddle around St. Augustine, including the Salt Run, Matanzas Bay, and Anastasia State Park.

Other Things To Do in St. Augustine

  • Mission Nombre de Dios Museum
  • Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum
  • St. Augustine Shipwreck Museum
  • Ximenez-Fatio House Museum

Places to Stay in St. Augustine

There are many great places to stay in St. Augustine, Florida, whether you’re looking for a hotel, vacation rental, or bed and breakfast.

Some of the best hotels in St. Augustine include:

Casa Monica Resort & Spa – This historic hotel is centrally located and within walking distance of some of the city’s most popular attractions. Additionally, the onsite cocktail lounge offers a unique twist on classic tropical cocktails. The lounge is a hidden gem with its elegant décor and world-class cocktails.

The Casablanca Inn on the Bay – This historic inn is located on the Matanzas River. It is centrally located to enjoy downtown St. Augustine.

St Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast – If you’re looking for the perfect place to unwind, look no further than St Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast in St. Augustine, Florida. This charming inn features a beautiful courtyard perfect for lounging on sunny afternoons and a heated pool for swimming or relaxing in the warm Florida sunshine. Additionally, there is a cozy sitting room where guests can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee or tea while playing a wide selection of board games.

Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine Beach – This modern hotel is located on the beach and has a pool, fitness center, and complimentary breakfast.

The Castillo Real, An Ascend Hotel Collection Member – This hotel is located on Anastasia Island. It features a seasonal outdoor pool, fitness center, snack shop, and restaurant.

Places to Eat in St. Augustine, Florida

Harry’s Seafood, Bar & Grille – If you’re looking for classic southern-style cuisine with a modern twist, look no further than Harry’s Seafood, Bar & Grille in St. Augustine, Florida. This popular local restaurant offers a wide range of delicious dishes that fuse cajun and creole flavors to create something unique.

Want barbecue ribs or a decadent shrimp po’boy sandwich? Harrys is the place. And with an inviting outdoor seating area and knowledgeable staff, it’s easy to see why so many tourists return to Harry’s Seafood, Bar & Grille.

Columbia Restaurant – If you’re looking for authentic Spanish/Cuban cuisine in a vibrant, welcoming environment, Columbia Restaurant is your spot. Founded more than a century ago by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Jr., Columbia Restaurant has delighted diners with its delicious food and charming atmosphere.

You can’t go wrong with any of the mouthwatering entrees from this award-winning establishment for lunch or dinner. There’s nowhere like Columbia Restaurant, with tastefully adorned dining rooms featuring hundreds of hand-painted tiles and other works of art and a beautiful Spanish-style fountain.

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of things to do in St. Augustine, Florida. Whether you’re looking to spend your days lounging on the beach, exploring the city’s historic district, or enjoying delicious food and drink. St. Augustine is a truly one-of-a-kind destination with its unique blend of Spanish and American cultures.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.