April 10, 2024

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The Ultimate Travel Guide To St. Augustine & What To Do In This Historic City

The Ultimate Travel Guide To St. Augustine & What To Do In This Historic City

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States dating back to the Spanish founding of the city in 1565. Since then, the city was ceded to the United States, and it has become an iconic destination on Florida’s northeastern coastline.


To help the many Travelers visiting the city hoping to experience a bit of its iconic history and aesthetic classic beauty, here’s the ultimate travel guide to historic St. Augustine.


What To Know When Visiting St. Augustine

St. Augustine, FL
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A photo of St. Augustine, FL

Famous for its stunning Spanish colonial architecture and beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches, St. Augustine holds the title of the oldest city in the US. Travelers to the city can soak up the sun on St. Augustine Beach, tranquil Crescent Beach, and among the dunes of Anastasia State Park.

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Since its founding in September 1565, St. Augustine has been a gem on Florida’s northeast coast. It’s also a short day trip from attractions like the Kennedy Space Center, the city of Jacksonville, and Orlando.

Fun Facts About The History Of St. Augustine

St. Augustine Cannons
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An image of cannons at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

At the time this article was published, St. Augustine was 457 years old, having been founded on September eighth, 1565. Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor, named the settlement “San Agustin” and it was the location where ships arrived bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain.

The Spanish had just spotted the peninsula that would become Florida eleven days before their first landing. This city served as the capital of Florida for 200 years as well as the capital of British East Florida when the colony was established in 1763.

Great Britain would then return Florida to Spain in 1783 before Spain ceded it to the US in 1819. It would remain the capital of Florida until 1824 when the capital was moved to Tallahassee.

Best Time To Go To St. Augustine

St. Augustine Port
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An image of St. Augustine’s waterways

Travelers generally agree that March through May is the best time to visit St. Augustine. May enjoys warm but mild temperatures with little rainfall. This is a popular time to visit but not nearly as busy as June through August.

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The second-best time of the year to visit St. Augustine would be in the fall, just after Labor Day and into October. The temperatures are ideal and there is little rainfall. Winter and Summer come with tradeoffs. Summer will have the hottest weather, ideal for the beach, but it will also be when St. Augustine is the most crowded and most expensive.

Winter is lovely in St. Augustine, but travelers will likely not want to venture into the water. However, the costs won’t be as high and there will be the holiday charm the city drapes itself in every year.

Best Ways To Get Around St. Augustine

St. Augustine Road Map
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An image of St. Augustine’s Road Map

There are an abundance of fun and interesting ways of getting around St. Augustine, as well as more conventional means. Travelers will be able to rent a car if they wish, and they will also be able to find taxis, Uber, and Lyft rides too.

However, it is recommended that travelers try some of these other ways to get around St. Augustine.

By Trolley

St. Augustine Trolley
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A photo of a trolley in St. Augustine

One of the most iconic features of St. Augustine is seeing a trolley rolling through the city streets. These trolleys are run by Red Train Tours and Old Town Trolley Tours. Riding the trolleys is a fun alternative way of exploring St. Augustine.

Some of the stops that the trolleys make include the Colonial Quarter, Fountain of Youth, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. George Street, Lightner Museum, Plaza de la Constitucion, and the St. Augustine Distillery to name a few.

By Pedicabs

A pedicab driver carrying tourists
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A photo of a pedicab driver carrying tourists

Travelers who want a quick lift around the city, but an alternative to taxis and Uber, should check out Pedicabs. A pedicab is a style of bicycle rickshaw.

With service offered throughout the town, Pedicabs are often a popular option to get to destinations such as festivals and concerts once traffic starts to become heavy.

Bicycle And Other Rental Services

St. Augustine, Florida, USA Skyline at Bridge of Lions.
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An image of St. Augustine, Florida, USA Skyline at Bridge of Lions.

St. Augustine is a popular destination for cyclists as well as other forms of two-wheeled transportation.

Mopeds and Scoot Coupes have also joined bicycles as a popular way of getting around.

  • Solano Cycle – Rents bicycles, 1-seater scooters, 2-seater scooters, Scoot Coupes, walkers, strollers, wheelchairs, and mobility strollers. They offer hourly, overnight, and weekly rentals
  • St. Augustine Bike Rentals – Rents bicycles, scooters, and Scoot Coupes. They offer hourly and daily pricing. You can also book a segway, VIP Kart, or bike tour through them
  • A1A Cycle Works – A1A Cycle Works rents bicycles
  • PIT Surf Shop – PIT Surf Shop rents bicycles
  • Big Bill’s Beach Stuff – Rents out beach cruisers

Explore By Tours & Pickups

A Tour Through St. Augustine
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An image of a tour through St. Augustine

One more recent addition to the ways travelers can explore St. Augustine is Explore Tours & Pickups. Escorting travelers around in what looks like a cross between a golf cart and a van, is an excellent, and pet-friendly, way of seeing the city.

By Carriage Rides

St. Augustine Carriage Ride
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A photo of a carriage ride through St. Augustine

Travelers looking for a slow-paced and relaxing way of seeing the city should consider taking a carriage ride.

There are several companies in the city that offer these rides: Southern Heritage Carriages, Country Carriages, and St. Augustine Horse & Carriage.

They have become a popular way for travelers to explore the city.

By Walking

St. George Street, St. Augustine
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An image of St. George Street, St. Augustine

One of the most attractive aspects of visiting St. Augustine is its walkability. No matter where travelers are staying in the city they will find the beach, downtown, and uptown all accessible by foot. The city’s design is quite friendly toward pedestrians.

Where To Stay In Augustine

Shopping Street, St. Augustine
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A photo of a shopping street, St. Augustine

St. Augustine is a popular tourist destination with many choices for accommodation. To help travelers out, here are three hotels that are highly rated and well-reviewed.

Southern Oaks Inn

Bridge Connecting St. Augustine
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An image of a bridge connecting St. Augustine

Southern Oaks Inn offers travelers great value at budget-friendly prices and a convenient location. The grounds of the hotel are well-kept, and it makes for a great romantic getaway.

Travelers with pets will also love this hotel as they are pet friendly and will even offer dog beds.

  • Address – 2800 N Ponce de Leon Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32084
  • Amenities – Wi-Fi, outdoor pool, pets Allowed (dog/pet-friendly), photocopier/fax In the business center, ATM on-site, 24-hour front desk
  • Cost – $

The Saint Augustine Beach House

View Under a Pier, St. Augustine
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View from under a pier in St. Augustine

The Saint Augustine Beach House is an incredible hotel with along Vilano Beach with oceanfront accommodations. By oceanfront, travelers will literally be able to walk onto the sands of the beach from some of the rooms.

  • Address – 10 Vilano Rd, Vilano Beach, St. Augustine, FL 32084-2964
  • Amenities – Free parking, free high speed internet (Wi-Fi), free breakfast, beach, fishing, children’s television networks, highchairs available, pets allowed (dog/pet friendly)
  • Cost – $$

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Augustine Historic District

Metal Staircase, St. Augustine
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An image of a metal staircase, St. Augustine

With incredible access to St. Augustine’s Historic District, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Augustine Historic District is a great stay for those who want to enjoy luxurious accommodations while having access to some of St. Augustine’s oldest and most classic sites.

  • Address – 116 San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, FL 32084-3262
  • Amenities – Electric vehicle charging station, free high-speed internet (Wi-Fi), pool, fitness center with gym/workout room, bar/lounge, bicycle rental, bicycles available, shuttle bus service
  • Cost – $

Where To Eat In St. Augustine

Market, St. Augustine
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An image of a market in St. Augustine

This old city has a mix of southern, traditional American, and Spanish-influenced cuisine. To help travelers discover the best places in the city to enjoy a meal, here are three highly recommended locations for travelers to check out.

The Blue Hen Cafe

Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast
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An image of Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast

Travelers looking for the best way to start their day while in St. Augustine should check out The Blue Hen Cafe. Offering travelers a traditional breakfast, every dish is absolutely delicious.

There may be a line, but it will be worth the wait.

  • Address – 117 M L King Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32084-4844
  • Contact – (904) 217-3777
  • Cost – $$-$$$
  • Fan-Favorite – Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast

Woodpeckers Backyard Barbeque

Pulled Pork
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An image of pulled pork

Travelers looking for some good southern barbeque while in St. Augustine should try Woodpeckers Backyard Barbeque. Their delicious meats are served in a variety of ways but one of the most popular would be their pulled pork served on Texas toast.

Travelers will love this casual and delicious barbeque experience.

  • Address – 4930 State Road 13 N, St. Augustine, FL 32092-1419
  • Contact – (904) 531-5670
  • Cost – $$-$$$
  • Fan-Favorite – Pulled Pork

Sunset Grille

Coconut Shrimp
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An image of coconut shrimp

On their fourth decade of business, Sunset Grille sits idyllically across from the beach with a mix of indoor, and outdoor seeding that includes their first-floor deck and patio, as well as their second-story deck. This is a great location for enjoying their delicious cuisine while enjoying the views.

  • Address – 421 A1A Beach Blvd Saint Augustine, Florida, Saint Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL 32080-6315
  • Contact – (904)471-5555
  • Cost – $$-$$$
  • Fan-Favorite – Clam Chowder and Coconut Shrimp

Top Things To Do In St. Augustine

Historic Boat, St. Augustine
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An image of a historic Boat, St. Augustine

There is so much to do in this historical city. Travelers will be able to spend many days in the city and find something different to do each day.

To help travelers out, here is a look at six activities and attractions for travelers to check out while in St. Augustine.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc.
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An image of St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime museum is a popular tourist destination, but be prepared to climb their 210 steps for the best, most breathtaking views of St. Augustine and its beaches (these are among the best on the East Coast).

Travelers can even check out a 1782 shipwreck. Guided tours are included with the cost of admission and there is also their Dark of the Moon tour, which is the only St. Augustine ghost tour that gets you inside the Lighthouse.

St. Mark’s Castle National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
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An aerial shot of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Easily accessible from the main square of St. Augustine and historic St. George St., travelers will have a fun time walking through 500 years of history in the oldest fort in the US.

They offer self-guided tours for visitors looking to explore the monument.

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery
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An image from inside the St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery, found in downtown St. Augustine within the beautifully restored and historic turn-of-the-century ice plant. This locally owned and operated artisanal spirits distillery is an incredibly fun stop for travelers looking to taste their spirits.

Serving their spirits in classy cocktails, this is one of the best stops in the city to enjoy a drink.

St. George Street

St. George Street, St. Augustine
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An image of St. George Street with the flags out

St. George Street is a bastion for small unique shops and boutiques. The street is also home to a variety of casual restaurants and pubs.

So, regardless of the hour of the day, travelers will be able to find something for them to enjoy along this historic street full of restored architecture and amazing sights.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
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An image from outside Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine

Travelers don’t need to be religious or even that interested in cathedrals or churches to appreciate this structure’s beauty and architecture. Built between 1793 and 1797, this structure is an iconic part of the city.

Travelers are welcome to explore the cathedral on their own, and the entrance is completely free.

Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park Beach
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The beach at Anastasia State Park

Travelers to St. Augustine should definitely make a stop at Anastasia State Park. Travelers who enjoy the outdoors will love the abundant wildlife, especially the bird population of the park.

Many birds of prey can be seen hunting above the waters of the park. There are trails to explore, as well as campsites for travelers if they are interested.

  • Area – 2,656 mi²
  • Established – 1949

Panoramic Shot Of St. Augustine
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A panoramic shot over St. Augustine

There are a few popular neighborhoods in St. Augustine that travelers love to frequent. Here is a look at them and what travelers can expect to find while there.

The Historic District

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Inside
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An image from inside Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine

The Historic District of St. Augustine, containing St. George Street and all of its shops, is the most historically aesthetic district of the city, with old and well-maintained or restored Spanish architecture.

Visiting or staying in the Historic District gives a Spanish-European feel to the trip.

Lincolnville

Beautiful St. Augustine Vista
An image of a beautiful St. Augustine Vista

Lincolnville, settled by former slaves, is known for its civil rights heritage with sites like the Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center and the ACCORD Freedom Trail like the Civil Rights House.

This neighborhood is home to 1800s architecture including Gothic Revival churches and the Lightner Museum. There is much history to be discovered in this neighborhood.

Anastasia

Anastasia State Park Walkway
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An image of walkway through Anastasia State Park

Anastasia is both a neighborhood and a barrier island for St. Augustine. It is also where Anastasia State Park is located.

Here travelers are recommended to explore on Kayak, in places like Salt Run, an estuarine habitat for roseate spoonbills and dolphins, to get the most out of this incredible island neighborhood.

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Tips For Optimizing A Budget During A Trip To St. Augustine

Spanish Fortress, St. Augustine
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An image of the Spanish fortress in St. Augustine

Travelers looking to visit St. Augustine may want to optimize their budget, so they can have the best possible experience. To help travelers out, here are three tips for optimizing a budget during a trip to St. Augustine.

Arrive During The Off-Season

Fortified Coast, St. Augustine
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An image of the fortified coastline around parts of historic St. Augustine

There are lots of ways to save some money during a trip to St. Augustine. One of them is to plan a trip during the off-season, Spring and Fall are both great.

And even the winter is incredibly pleasant in St. Augustine.

Take Advantage Of Free And Cheap Attractions

The Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine
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An image of The Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine

St. Augustine is full of museums and historical sites that are publicly maintained. That means visiting some of these attractions is affordable or even free.

Several of the above attractions mentioned in this article fall into that category such as Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.

Try Having A Picnic Instead Of Dining Out

Wetlands, Anastasia State Park
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An image of the wetlands of Anastasia State Park

With its lovely aesthetic, stunning beaches, and parks, there are a few locations in St. Augustine where travelers could have a picnic.

It won’t just be cheaper, but it is also a great way to stay outside when the weather is great, and not have to relocate for a meal.

How To Spend The Perfect Day In St. Augustine

Historic College, St. Augustine
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An image of a historic college in St. Augustine

A perfect day in St. Augustine could take many forms, but if travelers had just one day in the ancient city, it would start with breakfast at The Blue Hen Cafe. After that, travelers should head to Anastasia State Park, and don’t forget to pack a picnic!

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Travelers will linger lazily in the dunes, sand, and waves of the coast until early afternoon when they tour the cities neighborhoods by foot until hunger hits them. Stops at Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc. are a must and the shops on St. George Street are fun to look through.

Dinner will be had at Sunset Grille right across from the beach where travelers can stroll during the evening hours after their meal and before returning home. That would be a perfect day in St. Augustine.

FAQ

Q: Is St. Augustine pet friendly?

Along with being the oldest city in the country, St. Augustine is also overwhelmingly pet-friendly. It’s known as a haven for more than one type of furry friend, attracting dog owners and lovers alike. When it comes to deciding on a Florida city to visit with one’s pup, St. Augustine should be at the top of the list, if only for all of its pet-friendly accommodations and amenities.

From hotels to dog-friendly beaches, St. Augustine truly has it all for four-legged friends. Dogs are more than welcome on many of its sandy shores and the city is even home to pet-friendly restaurants, which means dog owners don’t need to leave their pups behind!

Q: What is St. Augustine Florida known for?

While the first settlements that would go on to form the original 13 Colonies were English settlements like Jamestown and Plymouth, the first European settlement in what is today America was in Florida. This is St. Augustine’s primary claim to fame!

If in Virginia be sure to see the “Historic Triangle” of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. In Massachusetts, one can see a replica of the original Mayflower and see Historical Plymouth.

Q: What is the best month to go to St. Augustine Florida?

Many travelers flock to Florida in the winter months because it’s far warmer than many other US (and international) destinations. However, that can mean high prices and busy tourist spots.

Therefore, March through May is often cited as the best time to head to St. Augustine.