Time and time again St. Augustine, Florida, has topped the charts of desirable destinations. Its extensive history, ancient walls, and beloved vegetation have devised an irresistible city. Afterall, where else can you see the oldest masonry fort in the United States while sipping aged wine and munching notorious cheeses?
There is so much to be explored in The Ancient City, so we’ve put together a St. Augustine Bucket List.
The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments
Fun fact: These two national monuments are the only two fortifications in the world built out of coquina, and both reside in St. Augustine. Coquina is so durable and strong – it is now known worldly as the rock that saved St. Augustine.
Castillo De San Marcos – this stunning star-shaped fort is located along the bay front in downtown St. Augustine. According to the National Park Service, the design “is a result of architecture adapting to technology. The change in warfare brought about by black powder weapons, created new types of defensive structures adapted both to withstand or avoid the impact of cannon projectiles and effectively mount cannons to repel any attackers.” When visiting the Castillo, you can explore the rooms that soldiers once stayed in, the courtyard and the gun deck. You can explore on your own or with the assistance of a park ranger. Be sure to stop by during a weapons demonstrations, held periodically throughout the day.
Fort Matanzas National Monument – hosts various events throughout the year including a re-enactment of Drake’s Raid, bird walks, Earth Day celebrations, and cannon firings. While there, explore the fort, enjoy history talks with the park rangers, and catch an educational film about the history of the fort and surrounding areas!
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is one of 29 lighthouses housed in Florida. Located in the Nation’s Oldest Port, the St. Augustine Lighthouse was built in the 1870’s and sits 165 feet above sea level. The view of St. Augustine will literally take your breath away as you bask in the clouds, 219 steps high. Don’t forget your camera for a Lighthouse selfie!
Tours of the Maritime Museum are available between 11 am and 4 pm each day and provide a plethora of information and entertainment for scholars, families, and students! The museum showcases artifacts of historic shipwrecks, ship modeling, and also has a few interactive exhibits. This is not your average museum!
It would be absurd to visit the Nation’s Oldest City and not explore the few blocks where so much history was written. Luckily, there are several tours downtown to take care of your history cravings – here is a few of our favorites!
For a truly historic vibe, the St. Augustine Horse Carriage is a fantastic way to navigate through downtown, great for families but also romantic. Your carriage awaits you at the Historic Bay Front, a few steps from Fort Matanzas, along with an informative guide!
Ripley’s Red Train Tour is a family friendly adventure that’ll bring you to over 20 hot spots in St. Augustine including the Old Jail, the Oldest House, the Fountain of Youth, and City Plaza. Your ticket is good for three days – providing endless fun. Ripley’s also has a Ghost Train Adventure – for brave souls only!
If you have visited downtown St. Augustine, then you have undoubtedly witnessed Old Town Trolley. The famous green and orange trolley, that weaves the tiny brick roads, is a tourist and local favorite! The trolley visits dozens of hot spots in old St. Augustine, if you decide to hop off and explore on foot, no worries – another trolley will pick you up in a few minutes or few hours! Still not excited? Check out the Ghosts & Gravestone Tour!
Alligator Farm Zoological Park
For all of Florida’s best wild life check out the Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Located on Anastasia Island, the park harbors alligators, crocodiles, exotic birds, monkeys, and snakes galore. There is never a dull moment at this zoological park, and yes there is an option to zip-line over the establishment – good luck daredevils!
Experience Nights of Lights
From November 18th to January 31st, St. Augustine hosts one of the best lighting shows nation-wide, called Nights of Lights. For 100 days, downtown is a winter wonderland, strung high and low with holiday magic. Don’t forget your camera, you’ll want to document this!
See St. Augustine from the water.
Now that you have plans to explore the depths of these ancient roads on foot, it is imperative you also catch a view from the water. Here are a few of our favorite boat tours.
Listed in the top ten attractions of St. Augustine by USA Today, Schooner Freedom Charters provides relaxing day, sunset, and moonlight tours. Kick back with your loved ones to enjoy the bright Florida sun, or the the nation’s oldest skyline, you will be glad you did!
For boat tours off the beaten path, check out Florida Water Tours, St. Augustine. Whether you have the entire family aboard, a few friends, or just yourself, they have a sailing destination for all occasions: Dolphin Tour, BYOB Sunset Cruise, Full Moon Tour, BYOB Ghost Boat.
If you are interested in a more informative boat tour, then hop on the Scenic Cruise of St. Augustine for an educational ride through St. Augustine’s past. While cruising by landmarks and natural sites, you will learn about pirates, settlers, and how St. Augustine came to be – a great family activity!
There is no shortage of history or adventure in St. Augustine. Although we wish visitors could explore all of the ancient city, we also understand time is of the essence. This Bucket List was conducted exactly for that purpose – a navigation tool through our precious city!