With its numerous museums, historical sites, and rich history, St. Augustine is one of the must-visit cities in St. Johns County, North Florida.
Hailed as the Ancient City, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States.
The city offers well-preserved Spanish-era sites, charming hotels, and swoon-worthy beaches that Florida is famous for.
If you’re planning a trip to this gorgeous city, here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in St. Augustine, Florida:
Stroll across St. George Street
St. George Street is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare with restaurants, art galleries, cafes, antique shops, and charming boutiques.
If you’re planning on buying souvenirs, spices, tea, and other quirky trinkets to bring home, you can find plenty of shops that tickle your fancy.
You can also find the Colonial Quarter in the area, a living museum that takes you back to the 16th to 18th century with its structures, live demonstrations, and sightseeing tours.
Halfway through your exploration of St. George Street, stop by any of the cafes and restaurants for a much-needed break.
The thoroughfare also makes for an ideal jump-off point to other places of interest, like the Medieval Torture Museum, Pirate & Treasure Museum, and the Plaza de la Constitución.
Explore Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Learn more about St. Augustine’s history and Spain’s 300-year occupation in Florida by visiting Castillo de San Marcos National Monument on S Castillo Drive.
With its imposing structure and panoramic views of the Matanzas River, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
It is also the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, providing shelter and refuge to the inhabitants when the city was at war.
Take a tour of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and see how this impressive fort withstood years of invasion.
The monument offers ranger-led programs, guided tours, weaponry demonstrations, and other activities.
Find Gilded Age Antiques at Lightner Museum
Discover a variety of antiques, Native American artifacts, and other unconventional items at Lightner Museum on King Street.
The museum is inside the former Hotel Alcazar, a stunning Spanish Renaissance Revival building that is one of the earliest examples of poured concrete buildings.
Today, Lightner Museum occupies several floors of the former hotel and gives its visitors an insight into St. Augustine’s colorful history and culture.
You can find traditional artworks like Victorian glass blowing pieces, stained glass artworks, antique furniture, and geological specimens from different parts of the globe.
On the other hand, some of the more unusual collections in the museum include shrunken heads, salt and pepper shakers, and cigar labels.
Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum on Lighthouse Avenue aims to preserve St. Augustine’s maritime history and educate visitors about its significance.
The museum features old shipwreck artifacts, boatworks, World War II-era structures, and heritage trails.
However, the museum's main highlight is the 165-foot-tall lighthouse, the oldest surviving brick structure in the city.
Visitors can climb 219 steps to the top of the tower to catch sweeping views of St. Augustine and Salt Run Lagoon, although those with limited mobility may want to sit this one out.
Aside from climbing the lighthouse, other activities at St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum include daily boat building, sailing, watching navigation demonstrations, checking out interactive exhibits, and more.
For those interested in spooky stories and all things horror, ghost tours include a visit to the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
Join a Ghost Tour with Old Town Trolley Tours
If you’re looking for a different way to get to know St. Augustine, why not join a ghost tour of the city?
With St. Augustine’s colorful history and nickname, “Old City,” it’s expected to have a bit of a dark past.
Discover the city’s haunted sites and listen to real accounts of paranormal sightings and urban legends on a ghost tour with activity providers Old Town Trolley Tours.
Old Town Trolley Tours offers guided excursions around haunted places in the city, including the Old Jail, the Tolomato Cemetery, and Cromwell’s Parlour of Paranormal Curiosities.
Along the tour, your guide will let you in on a few stories about St. Augustine’s haunted history, like anecdotes about ghost brides, lighthouse keepers, and young children.
Taste Spanish-Cuban Food at Columbia Restaurant
With over 100 years under its belt, Columbia Restaurant prides itself on being the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States and the oldest in Florida.
Located in St. Augustine’s Historic District, the restaurant is the perfect place to rest and refuel after a day out exploring the boutiques of St. George Street.
Its surroundings are reminiscent of traditional restaurants in Spain, with lavishly decorated interiors, hand-painted tiles, and a Spanish-style fountain.
Columbia Restaurant proudly serves Spanish-Cuban dishes like Spanish bean soup, Cuban sandwiches, and tapas, perfect for a light snack.
Entrees such as chicken salteado, ropa vieja, eggplant riojana, and salmon almeria come with hot Cuban bread and butter.
Cap off your meal with desserts like key lime pie, white chocolate bread pudding, and churros.
Check Out the Exhibits at Villa Zorayda Museum
Villa Zorayda Museum on King Street is an impressive Gilded Age museum that was once the winter house of Boston millionaire Franklin W. Smith.
The museum is said to have been inspired by the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, featuring elaborately designed rooms, hand-painted tiles, stained glass, and other Moorish design features.
In the museum, you can find antiques from around the world, including oriental rugs, carved furniture, Egyptian artifacts, decorative tiles, and more.
In addition, tours at Villa Zorayda Museum will also let you in on its history, including stories from when it was a restaurant, gambling casino, hotel, and nightclub.
With its dreamy interiors and ambiance, the museum makes for a picture-perfect setting for weddings, parties, and other intimate events.
Shop at St. Augustine Amphitheatre Farmers Market
Start your weekend with a visit to St. Augustine Amphitheatre Farmers Market on A1A South.
The weekend-only event features locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, fresh food, artisan products, and handmade arts and crafts.
This is the perfect place to shop if you’re looking for fresh and healthy options while helping local growers and farms.
From seafood, Florida mangoes, blueberries, cold-pressed juices, and vegan products to handmade bracelets, artworks, and handmade soaps, you can find them at the farmer's market.
You can also find ready-to-eat food like pies, baked goods, and drinks if you need a quick pick-me-up while shopping.
St. Augustine Amphitheatre Farmers Market also holds special events and live entertainment weekly, such as pie contests and local food drives.
Drop by the Oldest House Museum Complex
Learn about the early dwellers of St. Augustine at the Oldest House Museum Complex, located near the St. Augustine National Cemetery.
The museum's location has been occupied since the 1600s and includes the González-Alvarez House, the oldest surviving Spanish Colonial house in Florida.
Take a tour of the Oldest House Museum Complex and get a deeper insight into the lives of the city’s earliest residents.
Aside from a tour of Florida’s oldest house, your admission fee includes access to the ornamental gardens, museum store, rotating exhibit gallery, and other museums.
These museums include the Surf Culture Museum, Page Edwards Gallery, and the Webb Museum, the oldest purpose-built museum in Florida.
Take a Tour around Flagler College
Flagler College on King Street is a private liberal arts college founded in 1968, featuring large fountains, gardens, and picture-perfect Spanish Renaissance architecture.
The school has several buildings, but the scene-stealer is the centuries-old Ponce de Leon Hotel, a former luxury hotel reminiscent of Moorish palaces in Spain.
Despite the hotel being part of a working university, visitors can still explore and learn more about the historical and architectural side of Flagler College on guided tours.
Historical tours of the school are offered daily and include a visit to the well-kept courtyards, the grand lobby, the dining room, and more, noting the ornate decor and hand-painted murals that adorn the walls and ceiling.
Another highlight of the tour is the visit to the Flagler Room, decorated with crystal chandeliers, original hotel furniture, and personal photos of the Flagler Family.
Go Back in Time at St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
Relieve your pirate dreams and visit St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum, located in St. Augustine’s historic downtown area.
The museum houses hundreds of pirate artifacts and is said to be the largest and most authentic collection displayed in one establishment.
People of all age groups will appreciate the museum’s fun and interactive exhibits while learning more about the history of pirates dating back to the 1600s.
Some items you can see at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum include an authentic Jolly Roger flag, old coins, a blunderbuss, and the world’s only surviving pirate chest.
With its location downtown, you can easily combine visits to the museum and other historical sites.
Sample Award-Winning Spirits at St. Augustine Distillery
Once an ice plant building, St. Augustine Distiller on Riberia Street now creates the best bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka in Florida.
The family-owned and operated distillery partners with local farmers to help small businesses and provide employment opportunities.
Take a tour of St. Augustine Distillery and get a deeper insight into the process of making some of the world’s most famous alcoholic drinks.
Along the tour, get a chance to sample their signature cocktails and learn about the difference between them,
You can also personalize a bottle of cask-strength bourbon as a souvenir of your visit to the distillery.
After the tour, stop by Ice Plant Bar, a farm-to-table restaurant and bar serving fresh and healthy dishes with seasonal cocktails and drinks.
Enjoy Interactive Wildlife Shows at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
For animal lovers, don’t miss the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park on Anastasia Boulevard and meet hundreds of crocodiles and other animals.
The park started as a small exhibition of crocodiles which became the highlight of the place, eventually becoming the only facility showcasing 24 crocodilians.
But aside from crocodiles, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park also has other animals like birds, reptiles, exotic monkeys, and more.
Explore the exhibits, check out the interactive wildlife shows, and watch alligator feeding sessions.
If you’re up for a challenge, zipline across the zoo and see the animals from a different perspective.
Spend the Day at Anastasia State Park
Find more than 1,000 acres of pristine beaches, tidal salt marshes, and sand dunes at Anastasia State Park on Anastasia Park Road.
This is the perfect place to unwind, immerse yourself in nature, and take a break from the city's fast-paced lifestyle.
The park also houses the Old Spanish Coquina Quarries, a site from which the coquina stone was mined to construct the Castillo de San Marcos.
Whether you’d like to relax and enjoy the surroundings or go hiking and biking, you can enjoy different activities at Anastasia State Park.
Explore the park on a bike, follow different trails through the sand dunes, paddle across the tidal marsh, walk around the beach and search for unique shells, or use the park’s picnic facilities.
Explore Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park on Magnolia Avenue is one of St. Augustine’s most important historical sites, which is believed to be where Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed in Florida.
Filled with historical and archeological sites, this is one of the best places for history buffs and anyone who wants to learn more about the city’s origins.
See the Timucuan Village, Mission Nombre de Dios, Spanish Watchtower, and other exhibits, and learn more about its importance to the development of St. Augustine.
On your visit to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, get a chance to drink from the famous Fountain of Youth and watch a cannon firing demonstration.
With all its interesting places and exhibitions, visitors can spend half the day at the park before exploring other parts of the city.
Florida is best known for its Latin-American influences, gorgeous beaches, and vibrant nightlife.
However, cities like St. Augustine offer a different side of Florida.
Visitors can find numerous historical sites, interesting museums, and well-preserved landmarks that provide a glimpse of its colorful history.
Discover a different side of The Sunshine State by trying these best things to do in St. Augustine, Florida!