If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have noticed by now that I’m just getting back from a week long vacation in Florida. While there were many beautiful, fun, and exhilarating stops on my journey, returning to the city of St. Augustine, the home of my alma mater, was a major highlight of my trip to Florida.
10 Places You’d Love To Visit In St. Augustine, Part 1
Whether you are looking for relaxation, family fun, or beautiful views, St. Augustine has it all. To show each location in depth, I separated this list of 10 places you’d love to visit in St. Augustine into two parts.
1.) Colonial Quarter
First, the Colonial Quarter is one of the most fun, interactive spots for kids to visit. Here, you can go back in time to experience what life was like in St. Augustine during each century.
You can stop by many different exhibits to check out historical memorabilia. After a long road trip, this was the perfect location for my kids. They could run from exhibit to exhibit, and even though they don’t know a lot about Florida’s history, they loved interacting with each station.
One of the best spots here is the archaeological dig. Kids can go on a hunt in the sand for different objects. This is not a very messy activity, but it is incredibly enjoyable. After a very long road trip, my daughters were very appreciative of the opportunity to dig for hidden goods.
In other areas of the Colonial Quarter, you can see how people actually lived long ago. From examining the furniture and the food the people ate, you can learn a lot about what life was like for early colonial settlers.
One of the most eye opening exhibits was the bedroom. Here, we saw one rather poorly constructed adult bed along with a place for a child to sleep on the floor. My children were shocked to imagine having to sleep on the floor with only a blanket and a hard pillow. One thing they did enjoy seeing was that long ago, children had dolls to cuddle with at night.
Another amazing part of the Colonial Quarter is the lookout, where you get one of the best direct views of the Castillo de San Marcos. Later in Part 2, I will explain the importance of the Castillo.
From the lookout, you can also see the Pirate and Treasure Museum, which is only a short walk away from the Colonial Quarter.
2.) Flagler College
As a teacher, I highly recommend bringing your kids to visit Flagler College. My parents brought me to St. Augustine when I was about 10 years old. Later, when I discovered there was a college there, I knew I had to attend. Going to school there was an excellent experience.
While the college campus is incredibly gorgeous, the student body is overall made up of very focused and driven students. Studying alongside such hardworking students was one reason I was later accepted into a program at Vanderbilt University.
Not only does Flagler College boast an incredible faculty as well as strong academics with an experiential, immersive educational focus, but it is also a beautiful tourist destination.
Many visitors will take a tour of the college just to hear about the history of the buildings, part of which used to be the Ponce de León Hotel, a luxury hotel built in 1888. The courtyard of the Ponce de León Hotel has a beautiful frog and toad fountain that my children loved.
If you take a tour of the college, you will be allowed to enter what is now the Dining Hall. Inside, there are beautiful paintings and Louis Tiffany Comfort stained glass windows.
Another nice way to check out the exterior of the college campus is to take a horse and carriage ride around the city.
3.) Casa Monica Hotel
One of the finest Kessler Autograph Collection hotels is the Moroccan-themed Casa Monica Hotel, which is a resort and spa well worth visiting and staying at during your stay in St. Augustine. Located in the heart of the Historic District in St. Augustine, the hotel is a short walk to many attractions and only a short drive across the Bridge of Lions if you want to leave the downtown area.
Although the exterior of the hotel is gorgeous, the interior is beautiful too. All of the picturesque details make this a location well worth checking out when you visit St. Augustine.
If you decide to stay a night here, the rooms have gorgeous, luxurious touches. Below, you can see a room with a double queen and a pool view. There is plenty of space for guests inside the room.
Looking out from the room, you can see the incredible pool, which was very empty and quiet. Even in the heat of summer, the hot tub was also quite nice to visit. Next to the pool, you can relax at a cabana.
Since I was celebrating my anniversary of getting married and having my wedding reception at the Casa Monica Hotel, the staff surprised me with a generous chocolate basket from Claude’s Chocolate. This personal attention is one of the many reasons why the hotel is a nice location to stay at when you’re visiting.
When we arrived, we visited the restaurant in the lobby where we ordered an array of small dishes. The food was filling yet light. After a long drive, the Lamb Lettuce Wraps were the perfect dish.
We also ordered the Mushroom Pizza. I loved the delicious cheese, mushrooms, and onions. The crust was delicious too!
4.)Restaurants Along the Water
Later in the day, we stopped at the Frida Taqueria & Tequila Bar. Located on St. Augustine’s historic bayfront, the restaurant serves authentic Mexican cuisine. Dining on the balcony offers an idyllic view of the Bridge of Lions.
While there are many places to dine in historic St. Augustine, Frida’s offers an incredible fish taco that you have to try. Chunks of freshly caught fish are added to a mixture of corn, cabbage, Pico de Gallo, and Chipotle sauce. Eating this while overlooking the water makes you truly experience being on a Florida vacation.
Although the service was hit or miss at Frida’s, the fish taco was delectable and the view was incredible.
5.) St. George Street
While visiting, take the time to walk through St. George Street. Located in the heart of St. Augustine, St. George Street has many shops to peek in as well as attractions to visit. Whether you are walking at night or during the day, you will find that the streets are not overly crowded. Cars can’t pass through the main walking area, so you can take a leisurely stroll.
There are many places to stop in as you walk. We discovered hot sauce shops that offer tastings. Another favorite spot was a magic shop called Theatre Magic that does live demonstrations.
St. George Street isn’t a very long walk. If you have small kids, you might not need a stroller, unless you take a long walking tour or sign up for the Ghost Tour.
As you walk, you will find many places to get dessert. The fudge and ice cream shops are well worth visiting. We ordered ice cream at Kilwin’s, and we loved it. There was a nice place to sit and cool down right outside of their store.
If you love chocolate, you should try the fudge at Whetstone Chocolates. All four different varieties of fudge that we ordered were delicious.
You can find a huge variety of chocolate treats at Whetstone’s. Although we ran out of time to experience the Whetstone Chocolate Tasting Tour, it sounds like a very delicious way to sample the many different types of chocolate.
6.) The Castillo de San Marcos
First, the Castillo de San Marcos offers a beautiful view of the water, while also providing a unique, immersive educational experience. Built in 1672, this fort offered the Spanish protection against the British. From its unique construction materials – coquina, a stone made out of broken shells – to its location across the water from the St. Augustine lighthouse, the fort was very important to the history of the city.
When you pay for admission, you can enter the rooms at the bottom and walk to the top. Since the fort does not have a fence around the top, you should be careful with small children.
If you come at the right time, you can see reenactors firing the cannons. I went live on Facebook here to show the reenactment. Give yourself about 15 minutes to watch the reenactment. Since the weather can be quite hot at the top of the fort, you should dress appropriately and bring water.
My daughters were captivated by the reenactment. Even though they were overwhelmed by the heat, they sat still in anticipation. Samantha, my oldest daughter, said visiting the Castillo was her favorite part of the day.
Watching the reenactment is a very engaging activity that I can highly recommend to visitors in the area. Visiting the fort is a good opportunity to learn about the history of Florida, while taking in the scenic view.
7.) The Pirate & Treasure Museum
As I mentioned in Part 1, you can spot the Pirate & Treasure Museum from the lookout at the Colonial Quarter. Visiting is well worth your time! This is one of the most fun spots for kids to visit in Historic St. Augustine.
One of the biggest advantages of visiting is that the displays are very interactive. You can touch a 400 year old chest, see how heavy it feels to lift gold, and fire a canon. When I visited, I went live on Facebook here to show the interactive canon display. Since kids love being able to interact with the displays, the museum is a fun way to engage kids in learning about history.
In the souvenir shops, kids will enjoy picking up replicas of many of the neat things they saw. My kids bought pretend gold and toy mermaids to help them remember the real gold and the mermaid statues that they saw at the museum.
In addition to seeing artifacts from old Saint Augustine, you can also visit the movie memorabilia room. There, you can see the sword that Johnny Depp used as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean, a hook replica from the movie Hook, as well as items from Goonies.
We visited the Pirate & Treasure Museum after a three day trip to Walt Disney World. My family and I loved discovering fun, interactive displays in a setting that was much less crowded than an amusement park. We had almost the whole museum to ourselves!
8.) The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
For a look into the history of education in America, visit the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. Located on St. George Street, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse was built over 200 years ago when the area was ruled by Spain.
Walk inside to discover what education really used to be like for students in early colonial America.
During my visit to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, I liked that it was a quick, simple place to visit with the kids. There were plenty of activities to amuse them, while the displays also appealed to adults who can better understand the content.
9.) Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
Another place that appeals to adults as well as children is the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in St. Augustine. Located inside a historic castle, the Ripley’s of St. Augustine is the first permanent Ripley’s attraction. You can visit three floors of unique exhibits that will impress you, gross you out, and make you laugh.
Eye-catching Optical Illusions and Unique Creations
One of the neat parts about many of the exhibits is that they are optical illusions. For instance, look at the photo of Frank Sinatra in the below photo. Notice how the portrait is stylized and colorful, while it also has pretty accurate coloring.
While at Ripley’s, you can participate in many interactive exhibits that capture kids’ and adults’ attention. We had fun creating shadows on a wall, walking through a tunnel, and fitting ourselves into small boxes.
One of the best parts about Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is that there is a huge range in the type of exhibits you will see. Whether you are interested in religion, science, or art, there is something to appeal to everyone.
10.) The Cathedral Basilica
On a more serious and thoughtful note, the Cathedral Basilica is a beautiful spot to visit. Located across from the Casa Monica Hotel, the Cathedral Basilica is where America’s first parish was located. This is the oldest church in Florida as well as the oldest Catholic church in St. Augustine.
In all corners of the church, you can find gorgeous artwork. The paintings use a beautiful style to communicate stories of religious significance.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about the top 10 places you’d love to visit in St. Augustine! From family fun to a romantic getaway, this city offers something for everyone.
For more travel articles, check out the Travel and Restaurant sections as well as the Top 10 Travel Articles. You can also find Theresa’s Reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flipboard and Youtube.
I received a free item, but it in no way influenced my opinion.