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St. Augustine
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The 14 best things to do in St Augustine

The nation’s oldest city is packed with places to go and people to see. These are the best things to do in St Augustine

Megan duBois
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Megan duBois
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St. Augustine, Florida is the nation’s oldest city and one that everyone should visit at least once. The historic charm of the downtown area leads to the stunning white sand beaches that are often packed with locals and tourists on the weekends. Along with the many things to do in the city, there are ample dining experiences and restaurants to partake in, most of which source ingredients from local farmers.

After filling up on a delicious meal, you’re going to want to make your way to the historic forts that dot the riverfront and browse in the shops. When the sun sets hop on board a ghost tour to learn about the history of pirates, the Spanish settlers, and the other people who have called St. Augustine home over the past few centuries. No matter when you’re traveling or who you’re traveling with, St. Augustine really does have something for everyone to enjoy. These are the 14 best things to do in St. Augustine.

Best things to do in St Augustine

Trolley tours often seem like a super touristy thing to do, but they can be fun and exciting, especially if your driver is knowledgeable about the area and is willing to crack a few jokes. The trolley tours in St. Augustine take visitors through the historic district and past some of the most memorable landmarks like The Old Jail and The Old Drugstore. You can also get on and off around the city, to actually get up close to what the driver is talking about. If you choose to stay on for the entire tour, it’s about 90 minutes.

For almost 40 years the Spanish Bakery and Cafe has been serving up hot bread, fresh pastries and cookies, and savory empanadas to hungry customers. The bakery is still making everything the way it was when St. Augustine was a bustling port city, with a stone hearth oven, and a separate smokehouse. Those wanting to grab a bite of the old-school treats will want to get to the bakery early because they can sell out quickly, especially on weekends and holidays when St. Augustine is bustling with people.

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If you’re obsessed with pirates like we are then you’re going to want to visit the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. The museum shows the storied history of pirates dating back over 300 years to Port Royal, Jamaica at the height of piracy. The museum is open daily, except on Christmas Day, and advanced tickets are highly recommended. Throughout the museum, there are interactive exhibits, plenty of pirate paraphernalia to keep everyone in your group oohing and awing at everything.

The St. Augustine Distillery is one of the most visited sites in the city by adults, and we can definitely understand why. The distillery is Florida’s most awarded distillery and makes barrels of rum, bourbon, vodka, and gin that are sold to patrons and venues around town. Before getting your hands on a bottle of liquor consider taking the free tour of the distillery and learn how everything gets made. After the tour, you can sample some of the spirits, or bottle your own bourbon with the Fill Your Own Experience.

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The Lightner Museum is one of the most iconic structures in St. Augustine with its Spanish architecture and a large courtyard. Once inside the museum, you’ll be able to stroll around the various exhibitions and exhibits that include Native American art and stunning stained glass. The museum was once a hotel so you may also notice some pieces that were hung in the former Alcazar Hotel in 1888 or the following years as the hotel gained plenty of loyal fans and travelers.

One of the most haunted places not only in St. Augustine but in the entire state is the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The lighthouse is about 10 minutes from the historic district, but worth the short drive to climb to the top and take in the incredible views. If you’re feeling spooky then consider taking one of the lighthouse ghost tours which tells the chilling tales of the ghosts who call the area home. For a more romantic evening, you can take part in a sunset tour complete with champagne and hors’ d’oeuvres at the top of the tower.

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The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States. Part museum and part interactive exhibit, “the fort” as locals call it, is worth a visit if you’ve never been. Throughout the year volunteers dress up in period clothing to reenact different battles at the fort, or to educate guests on what it was like to live at the fort. There is a large park surrounding the fort that’s also a nice place to sit back and enjoy the waterfront or have a picnic lunch.

A hidden gem in the nation’s oldest city is the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. The zoological park is known for its large groups of alligators, birds, and other critters that guests can get up close to each day. Throughout the year the park hosts a variety of events including a raptor-themed 3K, nighttime activities, and even zip-lining over the alligator encampment and seeing the entire park from a birds-eye view.

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Music lovers, farmers, and locals looking for a fun time out love going to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. Throughout the year the outdoor music venue plays host to a wide variety of acts from famous bands to local artists. Every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. the amphitheater plays host to the St. Augustine Farmers Market where locals shop for produce, freshly baked bread, crafts, and enjoy lunch from some of the best food trucks in the city.

10. St. George Street

St. George Street is the most popular street to walk down in the historic district of St. Augustine. The entire street is lined with boutique shops, restaurants, bars, and lots of people bustling about. This is also where you’ll find a few buskers playing music, most of whom are very good. Be sure to stop and listen before you continue taking in the historic charm of downtown.

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11. St. Augustine Beach

One of the most beautiful beaches in northeast Florida is St. Augustine Beach. The white sand beach has some access points where you can drive your car onto the beach, but that’s really only recommended for locals who know how to maneuver through the soft sand. There are also some parking lots dotted around the beach with small boardwalks that lead right to the beach. St. Augustine Beach is known for the shells that wash up on shore, great surf, and plenty of room to spread out with your friends or family.

The nation's oldest city is also one of the most haunted in the United States. If you’re into the paranormal, or just like a good ghost story, then hop aboard one of the nightly ghost tours. While on the tour you’ll pass by Tolomato Cemetery and the Old City Gates where ghosts are often seen waving at passersby. Then step into the Old Jail, which is one of the most haunted places in the entire state. End the night at Potter’s Wax Museum’s Chamber of Horrors to hear about pirate lore and one pirate’s execution.

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Fort Matanzas Nacional Monument is home to a fortified coquina watchtower. For those who didn’t grow up in Florida, coquina is a sort of cement that’s made from shells and can be found all around St. Augustine. Visitors to the oldest city can take a short boat ride across the marshy inlets to tour the watchtower for themselves. Currently, the free tours are running Wednesday through Sunday, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Every night starting in late November through the end of January, St. Augustine puts on a spectacular light display called the Nights of Lights. Each of the buildings in the historic downtown area is outlined with white lights that make the city sparkle and glow. Anyone can walk around the city for free, but there are specific holiday trolley tours that tell the rich history of the almost 30-year celebration. Weekends are often very busy during Nights of Lights, so try to plan to see the citywide display during the week.

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