St. Augustine, Florida


Explore Castillo de San Marcos

The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in town and one of the most historically significant. The massive fort sitting on Matanzas Bay in downtown St. Augustine is the oldest masonry fortification in the United States.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

The tall spiral-striped lighthouse is St. Augustine's oldest standing brick structure, built in 1871-1874 to replace the original wooden watchtower. During World War II, the Coast Guard used it to keep watch over the shore, and it is considered the first permanent navigational aid in North America.

After being vandalized, the lighthouse and its original Fresnel lens, made of 370 glass prisms cut by hand, were restored, and the museum's proceeds make its upkeep possible. Atop the 219 steps, standing at 165 feet above sea level, the beacon light is still in operation and uses the original beehive-shaped prism, which stands at 12 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter.

The site is also home to one of the only field schools for underwater archaeology. Students of all ages come here to learn by exploring an actual shipwreck in the water below.

Address: 100 Red Cox Road, St. Augustine, Florida

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Stroll St. George Street

If you want to be where the action is or are looking for outstanding shopping in St. Augustine, then a stroll along St. George Street is where to start. The brick streets are lined with endless small eateries, boutique shops, historical structures, and quaint courtyards.

Walk the full length of St. George Street to enjoy the true local vibe as outdoor musicians fill the air with a cheerful ambience and restaurants like St. Augustine Seafood Company offer memorable outdoor dining beneath the lighted canopy of oak trees.

Nighttime along St. George Street is another kind of experience, when the historic buildings and trees are illuminated, and the Colonial Oak Music Park comes alive with free music and a family-friendly atmosphere under the stars.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument is one of the most important historical structures in St. Augustine. It was constructed in 1740-42 by Spanish settlers in an attempt to fend off British ships approaching the vulnerable Matanzas Inlet. The fort and tower are made from local coquina shells and a pine foundation, giving it stability in the marshy ground below it.

This is one of the best free things to do in St. Augustine, and you can easily spend several hours at the site. A nature trail accessible from the visitor center parking lot winds through the park and forest that surrounds the oldest section of the barrier island.

Take a ride on the ferry to see Fort Matanzas up close and learn about Rattlesnake Island. There are several scheduled trips each day.

The living history park often features reenactments and musket demonstrations for visitors to learn about colonial life and the soldiers of the 18th century.

Just across the street, you can access the beach for swimming and relaxing by the ocean.

Address: 8635 State Road A1A South, St. Augustine, Florida

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Go to the Beach

St. Augustine's 42 miles of beautiful beaches are an irresistible draw for tourists, whether it's to bask in the Florida sunshine, revel in the lively surf, or explore the natural wonders and wildlife of the shore and tidal wetlands. You'll find waters perfect for surfing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and boogie boarding, and plenty of beachside facilities.

One of the most popular places to visit is the 1,600-acre Anastasia State Park across Matanzas Bay from downtown St. Augustine. In addition to miles of beach, you'll find the Old Spanish Coquina Quarries, where the coquina stone used to build Castillo de San Marcos, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was mined.

Some of the other unique beaches to experience in St. Augustine are the GTM Beach at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is a protected area with lots of stunning natural scenery, and Ponte Vedra Beach, where you can find fossilized sharks' teeth in the sand.


St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

Visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is one of the most exciting things to do in St. Augustine with kids – including teenagers – and is always a big hit with the whole family.

The park prides itself in being the only one of its kind with all living crocodile species in residence. Alligator Lagoon, Oasis on the Nile, and the Land of Crocodiles are some of the best areas of the park to view a variety of young and old alligator and crocodile species.

The most famous resident in the park is Maximo, an Australian saltwater crocodile weighing in at 1,250 pounds. You can view Maximo from above the water and below in an underwater viewing area to get a better look at his over 15-foot body.

The park is also home to a variety of other animals, including exotic birds, several types of snakes, and five species of monkeys. Visitors can see the animals in their habitats and also enjoy a variety of wildlife shows, which provide entertaining and fascinating background on the animals and their care.

One of the most exciting areas to experience, especially for photographers in the spring, is the bird rookery, where you can observe many nesting species. Get up close to the activity from the boardwalk to watch snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, tricolored herons, white ibis, and other species build their nests. You can also observe the chicks hatching.

More adventurous tourists will love the park's zipline course, which spans several of the habitats, from alligators to tropical birds.

Address: 999 Anastasia Blvd. St. Augustine, Florida

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Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum

The former Castle Warden Hotel, in the historic district, now houses 800 exhibits of Robert Ripley's collection of curiosities. Since 1950, the "Odditorium" has mystified, shocked, and amused guests with its eclectic displays of the strange and unusual.

Here, you will find anything from historical artifacts to the bizarre and grotesque, including real shrunken heads and a motorcycle made of actual bones. The "Space Oddities" gallery displays items as small as a set of crayons carved into Star Wars characters and as big as a giant replica of the international space station made entirely of matchsticks.

If all this isn't strange enough, keep an eye or ear out for the ghosts of two women who purportedly died in a fire while staying at the hotel. Ripley's also operates the Red Train Tours, guided open-air tours to visit the city's major sites.

Address: 19 San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, Florida

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Sail aboard the Schooner Freedom

A sunset sail on board the Schooner Freedom is one of the best ways to see St. Augustine and experience the city from the water. Besides feeling the ocean breeze on your face as you quietly sail through the water, you will enjoy seeing the marine life, including dolphins and sea birds on the trip.

A sail on the Schooner Freedom is unique because it is a replica of a 19th-century blockade runner, built to exact specifications. It is a 76-foot-long, double-masted, topsail schooner.

You can relax on board as you watch the crew expertly handle the intricacies of this stunning boat. While a rare occurrence, if the winds are just right, you might just be able to sail to the mouth of the open ocean.

Address: 111 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, Florida

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