There are so many things to do in St. Augustine with your family. St. Augustine is known as the nation’s oldest city. Whether history is your thing or not, this seaside destination has something for everyone. There are beautiful beaches and more than 100 historic and unique attractions in St. Augustine that will create a memorable and educational family vacation on the East Coast of Florida. Here are 30+ ways to experience history and entertainment on Florida’s Historic Coast.
Museums in St. Augustine
Potters Wax Museum is a unique wax figure exhibit that began in 1947. What sets this wax museum apart from others we have visited is all the facts scattered throughout the museum. Most figures have a short biography next to them to keep you engaged. Like all wax museums, this is a great place to practice your selfie skills!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not in St. Augustine is the first permanent Ripley’s collection since 1950 and is housed in Castle Warden.
Litner Museum is inside what used to be the Alcazar Hotel built by Henry Flagler. Collections of antique furnishings, costumes, musical instruments, glass artwork and more fill three floors of this impressive museum.
World Golf Hall of Fame is an impressive 35,000 square foot museum that honors famous golfers. Not only will you get to see exhibits focused on the history of golf, equipment and course design, but you get the opportunity to play a round on the 18 hole course.
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum was my son’s favorite attraction. This museum offers an engaging way to learn about the era of piracy. The world’s largest collection of real pirate artifacts are exhibited in this beautiful old building. There is a treasure hunt that kept my son interested in each room and we were all fascinated to see a real pirate treasure chest!
Historic Buildings to visit in St. Augustine
Old Jail was built in 1891 to look like a hotel. Taking a tour of the inside gives you a real life look inside the jail cells, maximum security and the sheriffs living quarters.
Old General Store is a walk-through guided experience where you embark on a shopping experience with the salesman from the past. You will be shown new inventions from the animal powered washing machine to corn shuckers, bicycles and elixirs.
St. Augustine Lighthouse is an iconic structure that is worth a visit and climb up the black spiral staircase to the very top for a fantastic 365 view of the area. There is a height minimum, so if you have a real young one like mine, someone will need to stay back with them while others climb then you can switch. The admission allows you to take the climb as much as you want, so no one will ever have to do it alone. There is a nature trail, interactive museum and shipyard playground in addition to the beautiful lighthouse.
Old Wooden School House is a small attraction that will only take a few minutes to experience but is extremely interesting to see. My elementary age son was in disbelief by the punishment kids went through during that time. Kids will receive a little diploma upon exiting.
Our Lady of La Leche Shrine is a breathtaking, ivy covered chapel built in 1603. This tiny building provides a place of spiritual comfort and renewal. Inside, dozens of candles flickered from the open windows. Visiting the shrine is a peaceful way to start the morning, but may be a site to leave the little ones out of if they are not keen on being super quiet.
Tours to take in St. Augustine
St. Augustine Distillery is uniquely located in a one hundred year old ice factory that was renovated. The free tours take place daily and not only gives you a thorough view of how cooking and distilling small batches of gin, vodka, rum and whiskey, you will be taken back into the past of historical St. Augustine.
Ghost & Gravestones Night Tour is voted the best ghost tour of St. Augustine. You board a Trolley for the spooky ride through the sinister past of St. Augustine. As you pass all the known haunted spots, the animated guide will share stories of the ghosts and ghouls believed to still wander the streets of the town.
Old Town Trolley Tour is St. Augustine’s best sightseeing tour where you are free to get on and off at any and all attraction stops. The trolley conductors are a wealth of knowledge covering the history of over 100 points of interest. The Old Town Trolley stops at 22 places over the 70 minute round trip ride and your ticket is good for three days of riding. My little ones enjoyed getting around the city by trolley, especially during the rain – it added an element of uniqueness to the trip.
Whetstone Chocolate Factory has been making chocolate in St. Augustine for 40+ years and is a local favorite. Daily tours are given where you can learn where chocolate comes from, see how the beans are roasted and taste the chocolate!
Scenic Cruise is a relaxing way to soak up some St. Augustine history. The seventy-five minute narrated boat ride takes you down Matanzas Bay where you may also see dolphins and birds in their natural habitat.
Parks and Outdoor fun in St. Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos is one of the most visited attractions in St. Augustine as it is the oldest masonry fort in the continental USA. It is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in the heart of the St. Augustine historic district. You tour it at your own pace, so no rush or anxiety from talkative kids. Tip: do not make my mistake to try to see it before dinner; they close at 5pm, so make sure to go during daytime hours.
Anastasia State Park is just five miles South of the main historic area of St. Augustine and perfect for spending an entire day here with active kids. From the beach to the tidal marshes and mangroves, there are a number of ways to take in the beautiful scenery of this 1600 acre park. You can even stay the night in one of the 139 campsites and grill a delicious dinner to enjoy at the beach.
Fort Matanzas National Monument is part of a large park that spans 100 acres. While exploring the preserved officer’s quarters, fort ramparts, and original cannons you will get a chance to see the ecosystem of a barrier island by walking the half-mile long boardwalk through a mangrove forest.
Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archeological Park was a surprise to me. There is so much more to do here than just drink from the Fountain of Youth. This park has over 15 acres of exhibits showcasing 16th-century Spanish settlement, with historic village site replicas, a planetarium, Spanish watchtower to climb, and live canon shootings daily. My son loved all the wildlife walking around-especially the peacocks.
St. Augustine Wild Reserve lies North of the Historic District and is home to many exotic pets that needed new homes. This reserve rescues wild animals that were living as pets but then given up by their owners when they realized that an excotic wild animal is not a great fit for domesticated life. When you visit the Wild Reserve, you will have a chance to see bears, wolves, lions, tigers, egrets and more.
Marineland and Dolphin Adventure is the world’s first oceanarium and the perfect place to check off a bucket list item: swimming with dolphins! There are 1.3 million-gallons of dolphin habitats here with a number of ways to see and experience the dolphins.
Alligator Farm will top your list of things to do in St. Augustine with kids. Having opened on May 20, 1893, it is one of Florida’s oldest continuously running attractions. I can see why. My kids were in awe of the number of alligators and crocodiles here. Getting such an upclose view, it is a great place to really see the difference in these two reptiles. My son still talks about how he got to “feed hundreds of alligators.”
Fort Menendez at Old Florida Museum provides an interactive experience for all ages. From wood-working to face painting to jewelry making and many other Old Florida activities in fun environment.
Beaches Around St. Augustine
Crescent Beach- This beautiful stretch of the coastline off of A1A just south of St. Augustine City – Crescent Beach offers a wide sand space creating a peaceful atmosphere with loads of open play area.
Vilano Beach – Somewhat of a secret beach, located just north of downtown St. Augustine’s historic district, on the north side of the Matanzas Inlet. But note that though in a charming area, this beach has a steep drop-off, a heavy surf, and a strong current due to its location near the inlet, making it ideal for surfing (when the tide is coming in) and skimboarding but less attractive to families with small kids.
St. Johns County Ocean Pier – Popular with both tourists and residents, this pier offers access to the main beach as well as beachside restaurants, shops and more.
Anastasia State Park – This full range of park facility is ideal for camping families and beachgoers. Located on Anastasia Island, you will not only find pristine beaches but native Florida hammocks and tons of wildlife.
South Ponte Vedra Beach – Head North of St. Augustine for an ideal spot to take little ones for wide open play and a beachfront picnic, this beach has grills and picnic tables; located just two miles south of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Where to stay in St Augustine
Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront consists of 19 colorful buildings inspired from the Second Spanish Colonial period. This hotel is located across the Matanzas Bay and in the heart of the downtown district. The location allows you to walk to almost all popular attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and bars around town.
Jaybird’s Inn in a budget friendly option convenient to all the major attractions in St. Augustine. The accommodations are newly renovated with a contemporary feel. Each room provides a flat screen tv, mini refrigerator, and coffee maker. A free continental breakfast is offered daily in the lobby.
Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort – If you do not mind driving a ways, this resort is perfect for the family wanting a lot of space to spread out. Or even better, extend your vacation to golf, relax in the spa and explore Ponte Vedra. Read my 5 Reasons You Will Love Taking Your Kids to Sawgrass Marriott
Often a mom’s idea of vacation is not the same as their kids’ idea of a vacation, but a well planned trip to the historic St. Augustine is sure to satisfy the entire family!
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