St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest city in the United States. It is 30 minutes south of Jacksonville in the First Coast, and is full of romantic ambiance and old world charm. It is best known for its remarkable historic streets and attractions, Spanish-style architecture, and panoramic bayfront views.
The walkable downtown is made up of narrow colonial streets lined with interesting locally-owned shops and outstanding restaurants. A trio of grand hotel buildings built in the late 19th century by railroad magnate Henry Flagler tower over the smaller, reconstructed historic houses, but the tallest building in town is just seven stories. One of Flagler's former hotels is now home to a small, private liberal arts college whose students add a sense of pulsating life to the centuries-old town.
In St. Augustine you can dine on terraces overlooking narrow brick streets, view excellent art at unique galleries, and visit historic sites older than the United States itself. But the town is more than history and high culture. Feel like going parasailing over unspoiled beachfront or listening to famous bands play under the stars? St. Augustine has that too.
A Spanish, British and American colony Edit
42 years before the English established a colony at Jamestown in Virginia, and a full 55 before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish colonial empire settled St. Augustine. Founded by Pedro Menéndez de Aviles in 1565 as the colony's capital and in an effort to protect Spain's claims in Florida from the French at Fort Caroline (present-day Jacksonville), the town had a rocky start. Pirates attacked, as did the local Native Americans, and British privateer Sir Francis Drake burned St. Augustine to the ground in 1586. In response, the Queen of Spain dispersed funds to construct a masonry fort to protect the town, and construction on the Castillo de San Marcos began in 1672. The fort was never captured, despite multiple attempts, including a 58-day siege by British forces in which the town was burned again.
With the end of the Seven Years' War and the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Florida moved from Spanish to British colonial rule. During the American Revolution, St. Augustine remained a haven for those loyal to the British Crown. A group of immigrants that fled from a colony in New Smyrna arrived in town in 1777 and made up much of the city's population at this time, they were and are still known today as "Menorcans". The second Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolution in 1783, freed the original 13 colonies but gave Florida back to Spain.
Henry Flagler first visited St. Augustine in 1883. Seeing potential, he returned in 1887 with a new company, the Florida East Coast Railway. Over the next decade, he constructed a railroad line down the Atlantic Coast of Florida, all the way to Key West. Three large Flagler hotels were built along the line in the city: the Hotel Alcazar, the Casa Monica Hotel, and the flagship Ponce de Leon Hotel. These three buildings began the Moorish Revival architectural style that today characterizes the town. Flagler also built a pair of churches and sparked the development that grew modern St. Augustine.
The second Spanish period was characterized by neglect from the crown, as Spain was engaged in a war with Napoleon and France and regarded the colony of Florida as an unprofitable backwater. The United States, however, viewed it as key to its interests and sought to annex Florida, and they succeeded in 1819. The colony became a territory of the U.S. and St. Augustine continued to serve as its capital until 1824.
The St. Augustine Movement Edit
In the mid-1960s, the Civil Rights movement came to St. Augustine. Local college students held "sit-ins" at the town's Woolworth's lunch counter. In May and June 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders from his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) group, including future Senator Andrew Young, led a series of marches in the city. The Ku Klux Klan was active in the area, and responded violently to many of the marches and sit-ins. Hundreds of black and white protestors were arrested, filling county jails to capacity. King himself was arrested on the steps of the Monson Motor Lodge motel. The motel manager, James Brock, poured acid into the swimming pool after protestors had jumped into the segregated whites-only pool. Video of this was broadcasted around the world, and became one of the final factors in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Since the late 1960s, many historic buildings in the core downtown have been reconstructed and rebuilt, and most are now in the hands of the University of Florida. A range of unique restaurants have opened in the city, both those with quick, but quality, service and those serving up finer, and more pricey, cuisine. Luxury hotels have also opened up, sparked by the restoration and reopening of the Casa Monica Hotel in the 1990s. The infamous Monson Motor Lodge was demolished in 2003, and replaced by a bayside Hilton hotel, built to blend in with the historic surroundings.
St. Augustine celebrated its 450th Anniversary in 2015 with a three-day music festival throughout the downtown, capped by a visit from King Felipe and Queen Isabela of Spain. With some of the oldest historic buildings in town cleaned up and redone for that party, the town is looking better than it has in years.
The historic downtown of St. Augustine sits on a small peninsula, with the San Sebastian River to the west and the Matanzas River to the east. The larger of the two, the Matanzas is actually a tidal estuary that forms part of the Intracoastal Waterway, an inland water route that stretches from New Jersey to the Gulf Coast. The Matanzas Inlet lies almost directly across from the Castillo de San Marcos fort at the north end of downtown, and connects the river to the Atlantic Ocean.
Two barrier islands, separated by the inlet, shelter the river and the downtown from the ocean. To the north lies an unnamed island that stretches from Jacksonville Beach down to Vilano Beach, an oceanfront community connected to the city by the Vilano Causeway. To the south of the inlet lies Anastasia Island, home to part of the city of St. Augustine, as well as the beach communities of St. Augustine Beach, Butler Beach, and Crescent Beach. The historic Bridge of Lions connects downtown to Anastasia Island, and a more modern bridge south of the city connects the island directly to U.S. 1 on the mainland.
St. Augustine has a humid subtropical climate, with mild weather during winters and hot weather during summers. Average high temperatures vary from 64°F (18°C) in winter to 91°F (33°C) in summer. High heat indices ("feels like" temperatures that take humidity into account) are not uncommon during the summer months in the St. Augustine area, and can reach up to 105-115°F. Like much of Florida, it's common for daily thunderstorms to erupt during summer afternoons. These are caused by the daytime heating of the land and water combined with the high humidity.
During winter, the area can experience hard freezes during the night. Such cold weather is usually short lived, however, as the city averages only fifteen nights below freezing. Even rarer in St. Augustine is snow. When snow does fall, it usually melts before touching, or upon making contact with, the ground. Most longtime residents of St. Augustine can remember accumulated snow on only one occasion — a thin ground cover that occurred a few days before Christmas 1989.
St. Augustine has suffered less damage from hurricanes than most other Floridian cities. The city has only received one direct hit from a hurricane since 1871, although it has experienced hurricane or near-hurricane conditions more than a dozen times due to storms traveling across the state or up the coast and brushing the area. The strongest effect on St. Augustine was from Hurricane Dora in 1964. That storm, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and Hurricane Irma in 2017 all caused extensive flooding in the city.
Rainfall averages around 50 inches a year, with the wettest months being June through September.
Despite being a Spanish-founded city that still retains influences of the former colonial power in its cooking and architecture, English is the predominant language in St. Augustine today.
Get in Edit
By plane Edit
St. Augustine does have a small airport within the city limits: 1 Northeast Florida Regional Airport (UST IATA). It is mainly utilized by private aircraft and VIP flights. There are no regular commercial flights as of November 2018.
Next nearest airports for scheduled commercial flights to St Augustine are: Jacksonville International Airport (JAX IATA) is the closest major commercial airport, 40 minutes to the north. It is served by nine airlines, including the three main American carriers: United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.
Orlando International Airport (MCO IATA) is a major airport serving Central Florida, and is about two hours south of St Augustine. International flights are from Canada, Europe, Mexico, and South America. Connections are available from almost every major American city.
From any of the above airports, a rental car, taxi, or rideshare is necessary to continue onwards to St. Augustine.
By car Edit
St. Augustine can easily be reached by car, as Interstate 95 passes just west of the city. From the north (Jacksonville), take exit 318 for S.R. 16, then travel east to U.S. 1 or Business U.S. 1, then turn right. From northbound I-95, take exit 298 for S.R. 207, then travel north to U.S. 1 and turn left to reach the downtown/attractions area.
- 2 Historic Downtown Parking Garage, 1 Cordova St. Large parking garage just north of downtown. Parking here and continuing on foot is the most convenient way to reach downtown. Additionally, there are local buses stopping just outside the parking garage.
By bus Edit
- 3 Greyhound, (bus stop) Historic Downtown Parking Garage @ 1 Cordova St (Bus stop towards NW corner of parking garage at Cordova St and W Castillo Dr), toll-free: . Passengers transfer in Gainesville to reach additional cities. Tickets are not available for purchase at this stop, however; they must be bought in advance online or at a full-service terminal.
- Jacksonville Transit Authority express bus. Jacksonville has an express bus that runs from JRTC to just outside of St Augustine every evening. $2.75.
By train Edit
Palatka is closer and is served by the same two Amtrak lines. However, onward transportation to St. Augustine is difficult and limited to ridesharing apps (approx. $35) or local taxi service (approx. $50). Palatka's station does not have luggage service, so if you're carrying anything more than a backpack, you would need to disembark in Jacksonville.
By boat Edit
Various private marinas, and the city's Municipal Marina, operate docks both near downtown and on nearby Anastasia Island. The largest private marina in the area is at the Conch House restaurant and motel complex.
Get around Edit
By foot Edit
St. Augustine is an very walkable and pedestrian friendly city. Walking will allow you to see most of the historical buildings and shops in the downtown with relative ease, and is most definitely the best way to get a true feel for the historic core of the city. Further destinations, such as those on Anastasia Island, are much less accessible by foot, and one of the other methods below are suggested.
By bike Edit
St. Augustine offers an electric bike progam. Available to visitors and locals, the bike sharing is accessible by downloading the "Gotcha Powered by BOLT" app in the Apple Store or Android Play Store. The e-bike share service area is limited to most of the city limits and has 13 parking hubs around the city.
By trolley Edit
There are two main tourist trolleys that provide guided tours of the historic downtown area.
- Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine, 167 San Marco Ave and 1700 Ponce de Leon Blvd, ☏ . 9AM-4:30PM. Fully narrated hop on & off trolley tram has 23 stops, visiting all major attractions. Offers one and two-day tickets, both include entrance to the St. Augustine History Museum and a free shuttle to the beach attractions. $45/adult, $24/child.
- Red Train Tours, 170 San Marco Ave, ☏ , toll-free: 800 226-6545, firstname.lastname@example.org. 8:30AM-5PM, last boarding at 4PM. The original St. Augustine sightseeing tour, offering 24 stops including both Ripley's Believe It Or Not and the Lightner Museum. One and three day tickets are available, and can be combined with tickets for Ripley's and Bayfront Mini Golf. $24/adult, $13/child.
Horse-drawn carriage rides also operate throughout the downtown, and can be accessed by going to the "station" on Avenida Menendez along the bay front.
By car Edit
Downtown St. Augustine is rather inhospitable to cars, as the streets are narrow and often clogged with trolleys, horse-drawn carriages, and tourists on foot and bike all sharing the same roadway. However, to reach most of the hotels, chain stores and restaurants, and outlet malls around St. Augustine, as well as the beachfront areas across the bay on Anastasia Island, a car is all but necessary. Alternatively, both tram tours listed above offer hotel shuttles as well as shuttles to the beach attractions.
When visiting downtown with a car, it is recommended to park in the Historic Downtown Parking Facility, an enormous, multi-level, state-of-the-art garage across from the Visitor Center and at the far end of St. George Street. Parking charge is $15/day and the garage is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Limited metered parking can also be found on the street, as well as in the Castillo De San Marcos parking lot ($2.50/hr, limited to 3 hours). An app, ParkStAug, allows visitors to pay for and reload parking meters via smartphone by entering a four digit code found on signage near parking spaces. A few private lots exist downtown, and charge around $10-$12/day. Free on-street free parking is rare but can be found further from the downtown core.
By bus Edit
- Sunshine Bus Company. M-Sa 5:30AM-7:30PM. operates within St. Johns County except on certain major holidays. While there are some designated bus stops in downtown St. Augustine and on Anastasia Island, the bus is usually boarded by hailing the driver as you would a taxi, and can stop anywhere along the route for passengers to exit. Seniors, students, children under 6, and persons with disabilities pay half of the full fare. $2/ride, $4/day pass.
Historic buildings Edit
- 1 Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, 11 S Castillo Dr, ☏ . 8:45AM-5PM. A large coquina limestone fort constructed by the Spanish in the late 1600s to defend their small colony. Inside, certain rooms are open to the public, including the chapel, guard quarters, and the powder magazine. The top deck of the Castillo is also open to visitors and allows great views of the city and the bay, as well as up-close encounters with authentic cannons. There are living history demonstrations on weekends, including the firing of those cannons—an incredibly powerful (and loud!) experience. Lower level is handicapped accessible. Parking $2.50/hr. $15/adult, children under 16 free.
- 2 Flagler College, 74 King St, ☏ . Rotunda open daily 9AM to 4PM, tours depart at 10AM and either 2PM or 3PM depending on season. Located on 19 acres downtown, this college campus' Spanish Renaissance architecture is highlighted by the grand Ponce De Leon Hotel building. Built in 1885 by Henry Flagler, with an interior designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the hotel faced years of decline in the mid-20th century before being saved and converted into the liberal arts college in 1968. Tours: adults $12, children (under 10) free, seniors $10.
- 3 Oldest House Museum Complex, 271 Charlotte St, ☏ . 10AM-5PM, tours every half hour. A historic house just south of downtown that is believed to be the oldest house in the city, constructed under Spanish rule in 1723. The property, run by the St. Augustine Historical Society, also includes two museums, an exhibition gallery, an ornamental garden, and a store. $13/adult, $10/senior, $4/student, $26/family.
- 4 Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, 14 St George St (near the City Gates), ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 10AM-8PM. Over 300 years old, this one-room schoolhouse has stood through the rise and fall of two empires and the birth of the United States. Self-guided tours are offered daily, and an animatronic teacher and student provide a history of the building. $7/adult, $6/child.
- 5 St Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, 81 Lighthouse Ave, ☏ , email@example.com. 9AM-6PM. Built in the 1870s on the northern end of Anastasia Island, this working lighthouse sat abandoned for many years before restoration efforts in the 1990s. Today, visitors can climb the 219 steps to the top for a stunning view of the city and the surrounding waters, including the Atlantic Ocean. The associated museum is located in the former Keeper's House at the base of the tower and contains exhibits about living and working at the light station. $15/adult, $13/child, $13/senior.
- 6 Villa Zorayda, 83 King St (near Flagler College and the Lightner Museum), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-4PM. This historic house includes some old furniture, including from Arabia and the Far East. There is an "audio tour," or speaker system, that you can take with you as you go around the house. $14/adult, $13/senior, $12/military, $10/student, $7/child.
- 7 Medieval Torture Museum, 100 Saint George St, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 10AM-10PM. It is the largest interactive torture museum in the United States, displaying a private collection of torture, execution and restraint devices. Visitors can play the role of executioners and their victims. They are able to sit in the spiked chair of inquiries, pose in a “barrel for drunkards” or weigh themselves on special scales to see if they are too heavy to be deemed a witch. Among other things the visitor is able to try on the Spanish boot, stand in the pillory, drown a witch in a barrel of water, lead the guillotine, the pendulum and other deadly torture devices.
- 8 Potter's Wax Museum, 31 Orange St, ☏ . Daily 9AM to 6PM. A fun and educational family attraction with over 160 wax figures, including a wide range of fictional characters, famous politicians, Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, and more, both past and present. Established in 1948, Potter's is the oldest wax museum in the United States. Adults $10.60, children (6-12) $7.40.
- 9 Ripley's Believe It or Not!, 19 San Marco Ave, ☏ . Daily 9AM-8PM. The original Odditorium of the famed American purveyor of the strange and unusual was opened in the historic Castle Warden hotel in 1950. Three stories worth of exhibits include a mummified cat, a two-story scale model Ferris wheel made out of Erector sets, life and death masks of famous celebrities (including Abe Lincoln), shrunken heads, and an iron maiden. Rumored to be haunted, the opening credits and various segments of the most recent Ripley's TV series were filmed here. Adults $16, children (5-11) $9.
- 10 St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum (Pirate Soul Museum), 12 S Castillo Dr, ☏ . Daily, 10AM-7PM. Previously operated in Key West, the museum was moved to St. Augustine in 2010. It is the largest collection of pirate artifacts in any one museum, with notable artifacts including a gun owned by Blackbeard himself and an authentic treasure chest belonging to Thomas Tew.
- 11 Spanish Military Hospital Museum, 3 Aviles St, ☏ . Covers the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821) medical practices.
- 12 Old Jail Museum, 167 San Marco Ave, ☏ . Restored jail with sheriff's living quarters. It also contains a display of weaponry and a pictorial history of the hangings carried out at the Old Jail, with emphasis on the time the Sheriff CJ Perry was in residence with his family. The Jail is only accessible by guided tour,
- 13 Colonial Quarter (Spanish Quarter), 33 St. George St, ☏ . Daily 10AM to 5PM. This recreated garrison town allows guests to visit with a blacksmith, learn to fire a musket, and stand watch on a lookout tower. You'll see costumed historical interpreters tell the story of everyday life when the city was a remote outpost of the Spanish Empire. The property also includes a British pub, a Spanish taverna, and a seafood restaurant, all of which do not require admission. A rustic outdoor stage set under an old oak tree hosts free weekend concerts also open to the public. Adults $13, children (5-12) $7.
- 14 Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, 11 Magnolia Ave, ☏ . Daily 9AM to 6PM. A 15 acre waterfront attraction touted as the 1513 landing site of Ponce de Leon, the discoverer of Florida. Although no evidence has been found to support this, the park is the location of the first Spanish settlement in St. Augustine. Guests can explore a recreation of a Timucuan Native American village, witness a cannon firing, view archeological digs, and even drink from the supposed "Fountain of Youth", a natural spring. Adults $15, children (6-12) $9, seniors $14.
- 15 World Golf Hall of Fame, 1 World Golf Place. M-Sa 10AM to 6PM, Su noon to 6PM. The centerpiece of the master-planned World Golf Village, this hall of fame and museum center celebrates the greats of golf history. The expansive property located about 15 minutes north of the city also includes a hotel, convention center, an IMAX movie theater, two award-winning golf courses, and a restaurant owned by actor Bill Murray and his brothers. Adults $21; children (5-12) $5; seniors, military, and Florida residents $20; students (13+ with ID) $10.
- 16 Alligator Farm Zoological Park, 999 Anastasia Blvd, ☏ . Daily 9AM to 5PM (Summer: to 6PM). One of Florida's oldest continuously running attractions, this zoo features all 24 species of crocodile (including the American alligator) in addition to a range of other reptiles, mammals and birds. Educational demonstrations and activities like zip-lining are also offered. Adults $26, children (3-11) $15, guests in wheelchairs $13/$7.50, 10% off for AAA, military, and seniors.
- 17 Anastasia State Park, 300 Anastasia Park Rd (off FL-A1A, about 1.5 miles (3.3 km) from downtown St. Augustine), ☏ . 8AM-sundown. The park has a variety of wildlife, birds and plants in a setting of beaches, tidal salt marsh, and hammock. Recreational activities include bird watching, camping, fishing, sun bathing, surfing, sail boarding, swimming, kayaking, hiking and picnicking. Amenities include a campground and nature trails.
- 18 Fort Mose Historic State Park, 15 Fort Mose Trail (set back behind a neighborhood off of U.S. 1; two miles north of St. Augustine, on the eastern edge of a marsh), ☏ . Grounds: Daily 9AM to 5PM; Visitor Center: Th-M 9AM to 5PM. This park preserves the site of the first legal free black settlement in America. It was established in 1738 by the Spanish for escaped black slaves seeking asylum from the British colonies. The former site of the community, long forgotten but rediscovered in 1968, is located about two miles north of St. Augustine. Also spelled Fort Moosa or Fort Mossa. Grounds free; Visitor Center: adults $2, children (under 6) free.
- 19 Mission Nombre de Dios, 89 A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway. One of the oldest Catholic sites in the Americas, the mission was founded in 1565 and further developed in 1587. It developed into an important site for the Mocama Tribe during the following century, but the chapel was destroyed in 1728 during a British siege. The chapel was rebuilt multiple times, with the ultimate structure being constructed in 1914. In 1966, a cross — one of the tallest in the world at 208 ft (63 m) — was dedicated at the mission. The shrine was upgraded to national status in 2019. A museum at the mission, opened in 2010, houses artifacts including Spanish documents dating to the 12th century.
- 20 Memorial Presbyterian Church, 32 Sevilla St. Built in 1899.
- 21 Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, 38 Cathedral Pl. The current building dates back to 1797 but the congregation is the oldest in United States, dating back to 1565.
- 22 Grace United Methodist Church, 8 Carrera St. Constructed in the local architectural style during the 1880s, the church was added to the National Register in 1979. Notably for its time, the building was made of concrete, and incorporated influences from Moorish architecture.
- 23 Trinity Parish, 215 St George St. Oldest Protestant church in Florida, built in 1834.
- 1 Adventure Landing, 2780 S.R. 16, ☏ . Su-Th 10AM to 11PM, F Sa 10AM to midnight. Great for kids, this family fun park located behind the larger outlet mall off of I-95 offers miniature golf, an arcade, batting cages, go-karts, and a roller coaster simulator. Pay per activity.
- 2 Anastasia Watersports, 850 Anastasia Park Road (in Anastasia State Park), ☏ . Daily 9AM to 6PM. A shack in the state park offering affordable kayak, paddleboard, and sailboat rentals, as well as rentals of bikes and beach equipment like umbrellas and surfboards. A nearby park store sells snacks and fishing bait. Priced by the hour: $20-60.
- 3 Faver-Dykes State Park (15 miles south of St. Augustine, near the intersection of I-95 and US-1, and bordering Pellicer Creek, a designated state canoe trail), ☏ . 8AM-sundown. Activities include fishing, picnicking, boating, canoeing, camping and wildlife viewing.
- 4 St. Augustine Art Association, 22 Marine St, ☏ . Tu-Sa noon to 4PM, Su 2PM to 5PM. Home to one of the oldest arts organizations in the Sunshine State, this is the premier gallery in the historic district. The 5,000 square foot landmark features a permanent collection of "Lost Colony" art from the 1930s as well as monthly juried exhibits of local art. Free Admission.
Ghost tours Edit
Both Old Town Trolley and Ripley's Red Trains offer nighttime ghost tour trams titled Ghost & Gravestones and Ripley's Ghost Trains, respectively. Both of these nightly versions of the tram tours include several segments where the tour guides park the tram, disembark, and lead the group into allegedly haunted structures. Keep in mind that different tours go to different sites, for example, Ripley's Ghost Trains go through the allegedly haunted Ripley's Believe It Or Not building, while Ghost & Gravestones tours enter the Old Jail, a historic site owned by Old Town Trolley.
In addition, numerous walking ghost tours operate out of the area around St. George Street, with small registration booths or storefronts manned throughout the day.
If ghosts are your fancy, it is worth doing some research into the various tram and walking tours and deciding on the one that piques your interest.
Boat tours Edit
- Schooner Freedom, ☏ . $55 per person.
- St. Augustine Scenic Cruise, 111 Avenida Menendez, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ripple Effect Ecotours, 101 Tolstoy Ln, ☏ , email@example.com.
Concerts and live music Edit
St. Augustine is a veritable hotbed for local musicians and bands. On weekend nights, nearly every restaurant and bar in the downtown historic district, as well as many on Anastasia Island, will be offering live music of some sort, with genres ranging from country to classic rock, to blues and jazz.
The St. Augustine Amphitheatre sits within Anastasia State Park, across the Bridge of Lions on the island. An intimate venue with just under 5,000 covered seats, this is a great place to see a show if one of your favorites is in town during your visit. Drawing big-name concert acts from all genres, past acts have included The Beach Boys, Toby Keith, Slayer, and Selena Gomez. Check the website for the upcoming lineup.
The city also hosts Concerts in the Plaza on Thursdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day in the downtown's Plaza de la Constitución. Local and regional musicians perform in the park's gazebo and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to relax and enjoy the music. Picnics are allowed, but alcohol is not.
The aforementioned Colonial Quarter's Colonial Oak Music Park offers free live music from local musicians, with the occasional touring act, on Thursday through Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
St. Augustine is known in the area for its various large-scale events and festivals held in the downtown area during the slower seasons of early spring, fall, and winter.
- Celtic Music & Heritage Festival, 29 W Castillo Dr (Francis Field). Second weekend of March. Including the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Adult $10, children (12 and under): free, retired or active duty military: free.
- Easter Parade (Downtown). Easter weekend. A parade downtown of marching bands, floats, drill teams, clowns, Royal Family and the city's carriage horses wearing hats.
- Rhythm & Ribs Festival, 29 W Castillo Dr (Francis Field). Last weekend of March. The last weekend of March at Francis Field on Castillo Drive. Features championship BBQ and musical entertainment.
- Blessing of the Fleet. First Sunday in April. Commercial and pleasure craft alike receive a blessing from the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Ceremony begins at noon with a procession from the Cathedral Basilica.
- Gamble Rogers Folk Festival (various locations downtown). April. This three-day musical event features a variety of local and national bands, storytelling and songwriting workshops. A celebration of the music, stories and dance by local and national artists celebrating the Gamble Rogers legacy.
- Kingbuster Tournament. June. A Southern Kingfish competition held at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.
- Great Chowder Debate. November. Local restaurants compete in various categories for the best chowder, with samples tasted by the public. Proceeds benefit The Shriner's Children's hospital.
- St. Augustine Arts and Craft Festival, 29 W Castillo Dr (Francis Field). Hosted by the St. Augustine Art Association for over 70 years, this premier festival is held twice a year: Thanksgiving weekend, and the weekend after Easter. See the works of over 150 top artists from across the country displaying painting, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, photography, fiber arts, glass and a variety of 2D & 3D works. Food, a KidZone, Festival Paint Out, entertainment, art demos, prizes and more.
- Nights of Lights (Downtown). Mid-November to late January. More than a million little white lights outline the bayfront, Plaza de la Constiución, and buildings of the historic downtown for the entirety of the holiday season and beyond. Both sightseeing trams coordinate seasonal festive nighttime tours of the lights, complete with music and special light-viewing glasses.
- Holiday Regatta of Lights (Bayfront). Mid-December. A spectacular and colorful parade of sailboats, trawlers, shrimp boats and many other vessels decorated with the festive lights, held on the bay between the Bridge of Lions and Castillo de San Marcos.
- St. Augustine Christmas Parade (Downtown), ☏ . Mid-December. Floats, bands, cars, and horses preclude the arrival of Santa Claus, who is available for pictures immediately after.
- St. Augustine Film Festival. Third weekend of January. The city welcomes filmmakers from around the world to showcase their work in theaters around the city. Various parties occur in different locations all four nights of the festival.
- At the First Friday Art Walk, held the first Friday of every month, over 30 of the city's downtown galleries stay open late, with most using the night to open new exhibits, offering food, wine, and entertainment.
St. George Street is the spine of the historic downtown. A five-block long pedestrian street, it offers various unique shops and countless restaurants, bars, and snack stands. Here you can find everything from authentic Cuban cuisine and New York-style pizza to upscale jazz bars and old-school bakeries. The small side streets just around St. George, specifically the cross-streets of Cuna and Hypolita, and the parallel Spanish Street, also contain numerous shops and restaurants that make them worth venturing down. South of the Plaza de la Constiución sits the decidedly less-touristy and more artsy area around Aviles Street, purportedly "the oldest street in the oldest city". Among these narrow streets you can find some great cafes and small galleries.
Outside of the downtown there are a few other shopping centers that may be of interest, including large strip mall centers on U.S. 1 south of downtown. These contain your typical chain stores and restaurants, with a few local places mixed in. Besides those, some other that may be worth a visit are listed below.
- 1 PK's Roosevelt Room, 121 St. George St, ☏ . Brunch 1920s style.
- 2 The Hyppo, 70 St. George St, 48 Charlotte St, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Gourmet popsicle outlet started by students from Flagler College; sells a variety of funky flavors at two locations in town.
- 3 The Kookaburra, 24 Cathedral Pl, ☏ . Small Australian-inspired coffeehouse offering meat pies with savory fillings.
- 4 World Famous Oasis Restaurant, 4000 A1A S, ☏ . Su-Th 6AM-9:30PM, F Sa 6AM-10:30PM. This two-story, diner-style restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has a full bar and huge windows on the upper deck.
- 5 Pizza Time, 124 St. George St, ☏ . M-F 7AM-9PM, Sa Su 8AM-9PM. Ranked as one of the best pizza places in the country, this parlor owned by Brooklyn transplants serves up a mean slice that rivals those in New York.
- 6 The Spanish Bakery & Cafe, 42 1/2 St. George St (Entrance under Whetstone Chocolates sign). Su-Th 10AM-5PM, F Sa 10AM-8PM. Serves breakfast and lunch featuring freshly-baked authentic Spanish pastries, bread, and soups. Outdoor seating only.
- 7 Beachcomber Restaurant, 2 A St, ☏ . Daily 11AM to 8PM (Summer: to 9PM and to 10PM F-Sa). This casual spot serves lunch and dinner in a unique atmosphere with an open deck just steps from the beach. $12-25.
- 8 The Blue Hen Café, 117 Martin Luther King Ave, ☏ . Tu-Su 8AM-3PM. Classic Southern comfort food is served up for breakfast and lunch and this bright and airy neighborhood cafe.
- 9 Casa Maya, 22 Hypolita Street, ☏ . M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa Su 8:30AM to 10PM. Higher-end authentic Latin dishes served in a converted house located in the center of downtown. $15-23.
- 10 Gas Full Service Restaurant, 9 Anastasia Boulevard, ☏ . Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Burgers, steaks, seafood and more are piled high in this casual, funky American eatery.
- 11 Georgie's Diner, 100 Malaga St, ☏ . Daily 7AM-9PM. Look for the distinctive 1950s-era silver exterior of this authentic diner, serving breakfast all day and lunch and dinner daily, with popular Greek specialties offered alongside the comfort food you would expect.
- 12 Harry's Seafood, Bar & Grille, 46 Avenida Menendez, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM. Traditional Creole dishes and seafood are served in a converted house and tree-covered outdoor courtyard.
- 13 O'Steens, 205 Anastasia Boulevard, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11AM-8:30PM. The "local" favorite and regular winner of Best Seafood Restaurant, this family restaurant features their famous fried shrimp dinner. No alcohol, cash only, long lines outside.
- 14 Sunset Grille, 421 A1A Beach Blvd, ☏ . 11AM - midnight. American and seafood cuisines.
- 15 Amici Italian Restaurant, 1915 A1A Hwy. S, ☏ , FoodMafia@AmiciStAugustine.com. Authentic Italian specialties.
- 16 Collage, 60 Hypolita Street, ☏ . Artful global cuisine.
- 17 The Conch House, 57 Comares Ave (one mile from historic St. Augustine), ☏ . Enjoy waterfront dining inside or outside on the decks overlooking tropical Salt Run. Featuring seafood, Caribbean cuisine, steaks, salads, and award-winning conch chowder, The Conch House Lounge offers the best in tropical specialty drinks served in a Caribbean atmosphere over the water and features live entertainment.
- 18 Gypsy Cab Company, 828 Anastasia Blvd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Serves "Urban Cuisine," an eclectic mix of seafood, steaks, poultry, pork, vegetarian items, and pasta dishes influenced by international cooking styles.
- 19 Old City House Inn & Restaurant, 115 Cordova St, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 8:30AM to 10PM. World cuisine with Mediterranean and Southern influences served in an 1873 house turned bed & breakfast, with both indoor seating and an outdoor landscaped patio. Main dishes $20-$35.
- 20 Raintree, 102 San Marco Ave, ☏ . Florida Trend's 10 Best in Florida Golden Spoon award.
- 21 Saltwater Cowboys, 299 Dondanville Rd. On the intracoastal waterway in a casual, recreated, turn-of-the-century fish camp surrounded by saltwater marshes. Specialties including fresh seafood, delicious ribs, and chicken specialties.
- 1 A1A Ale Works, One King Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org (events). Offers a full lunch/dinner menu and extensive beer list.
- 2 Ann O'Malleys, 23 Orange St, ☏ . Live music and sports bar.
- 3 Barley Republic, 48 Spanish St, ☏ . 5PM–2AM. Traditional American bar/Irish pub.
- 4 The Prince of Wales, 54 Cuna St (Spanish St), ☏ . British cuisine specializing in fish & chips.
- 5 St. George Tavern, One St. George St, ☏ . W–Su 11AM–10PM. American but European-influenced cuisine. About $30 for an entree.
- 6 Stogies, 36 Charlotte St, ☏ . Cigar room and jazz club.
- 7 The Tini Martini Bar, 24 Avenida Menendez, ☏ . Bar with views of downtown St. Augustine.
- 8 St. Augustine Distillery, 112 Riberia St, ☏ . Daily 10AM to 6PM. Opened in 2014 in a hundred-year-old ice plant, this working distillery crafts small batch whiskey, rum, gin, and vodka, as well as Florida's first bourbon. All spirits have won numerous awards and are made using locally grown, Florida agriculture. Free tours and tastings are offered daily. A "fill your own bottle" experience is available with Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon. Tours are free.
- 9 San Sebastian Winery, 157 King St, ☏ , toll-free: . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A few blocks from downtown, this winery was opened in 1996 in a restored railroad building and offers award-winning American wines dating back to 1562. Tours are offered seven days a week, leaving every 20-25 minutes and lasting for about 45 minutes. Wines are for sale at the on-site retail store, and a rooftop wine bar overlooking the San Sebastian River offers live jazz and blues on weekend nights. Tours are free.
- 10 Prohibition Kitchen, 119 Saint George St, ☏ . American cuisine. Hosts live music and private events.
- 1 Howard Johnson St. Augustine (Wyndham), 2535 FL-16, ☏ . Amenities include an airport shuttle and outdoor pool.
- 2 Anastasia Inn, 218 Anastasia Blvd, ☏ . No pets.
- 3 Best Western Bayfront, 16 Avenida Menendez, ☏ , fax: . On the shore of Matanzas Bay. 59 rooms.
- 4 Castillo Real, 530 A1A Beach Blvd, ☏ . About a block from the coast in St. Augustine Beach, the hotel does not allow pets and is smoke-free.
- 5 Marker 8 Hotel & Marina, One Dolphin Dr. Marina on-site.
- 6 St. George Inn, 4 St George Street, toll-free: . Twenty-five hotel rooms and suites, many with balconies and views of the Intercoastal Waterway, the Castillo de San Marcos and the City Gate. Facilities: internet access, private baths, and a complimentary continental breakfast.
- 7 Casa Monica Resort & Spa, 95 Cordova St, ☏ . A historical hotel built in 1888, it has 138 rooms and suites in a Spanish-style décor. The hotel is in St Augustine historic district.
- 8 The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens, 149 Cordova St, ☏ . Awarded "best resort in Florida" in 2022. The resort has also received awards from USA Today, the AAA, U.S. News & World Report, and TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice.
- 9 DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Augustine Historic District, 116 San Marco Ave, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM.
- 10 Historic St Augustine Hilton Bayfront, 32 Avenieda Menedez, ☏ . Close to numerous Saint Augustine attractions and dining, with reasonable prices for business and leisure travelers.
Bed and Breakfasts Edit
- 11 44 Spanish Street Inn, 44 Spanish St, ☏ . Constructed in 1920, the inn received the "Best of St. Augustine" award from Folio Magazine.
- 12 63 Orange Street Bed & Breakfast Inn (2 blocks from the St Augustine City Gates), 63 Orange St, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. This grand 1884 home offers a comfortable combination of charming, elegant Victorian antiques and 21st-century amenities with full breakfast. $120 - 220.
- 13 Bayfront Westcott House (Bayfront Marin House), 146 Avenida Menendez, ☏ , email@example.com. An historic inn, named after Francisco Marin, a Spanish immigrant in the 1700s, who built a house on the property. Old part of house (painted a brick color) is the original building.
- 14 Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast, 70 Cuna Street, toll-free: . St. This bed and breakfast was built in 2008 and is in the historic district. Weekday rates start at $99. Rates include a full breakfast, beverages, afternoon deserts and parking is on-site.
- 15 Casa de Solana Bed and Breakfast, 21 Aviles St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 16 Peace and Plenty Inn, 87 Cedar St, ☏ . A 1893 Victorian home was restored by the Terrell Family to reflect the style and architecture of the Gilded Age. Bed and breakfast. Rates from $99.
- 17 Pirate Haus Inn, 32 Treasury Street, ☏ . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. Pirate-themed inn, is in the middle of the Historic District. All you can eat Pirate Pancakes for breakfast, pirate toys and pirate bedtime reading for the kids. Private room rates from $50, and include free parking. Dorm beds from $20. Right in the middle of the historic district, 150 feet to the bay and 150 feet to St. George Street. From $50.
- 18 St Francis Inn, 279 St. George Street, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . A historic bed-and-breakfast located at the corner of St. Francis and St. George Streets, built in 1791. Private courtyard with gardens, balconies, whirlpool tubs, breakfast, fireplaces, quiet location, free parking and swimming pool.
- 19 Victorian House Bed and Breakfast, 11 Cadiz St, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Located on the oldest street in St. Augustine, this beautiful Victorian house was built 1885. Guest rooms have private baths and are furnished with antiques. Guests are welcomed to a full hot breakfast, wifi, and free parking. from $99 per night.
Go next Edit
- Jacksonville — Florida's largest city, about an hour's drive north of St. Augustine on the mouth of St. Johns River
- Ponte Vedra Beach — beach town east of Jacksonville, and north of St. Augustine
- Palatka — town on the St. Johns River to the west
- From St. Augustine to Hampton Roads — a comprehensive list of places to go next, this itinerary lists colonial and other historic points of interest on the East Coast of the U.S.
- Vilano Beach — northeast across the Intracoastal Waterway from St. Augustine
|Routes through St. Augustine|
|Jacksonville ← Ponte Vedra ←||N S||→ Palm Coast → Daytona Beach|
|Jacksonville ← Ponte Vedra ←||N S||→ Palm Coast → Daytona Beach|
|Jacksonville ← Vilano Beach ←||N S||→ Butler Beach → Daytona Beach|