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Ancient City Tours
Ancient City Tours 12 St George St St Augustine, Florida 32084
Since 1998, Ancient City Tours has managed all facets of your tour needs. Offering top notch guides to lead the way on these popular tours:
A Ghostly Encounter Join us on the oldest continuously operated walking ghost tour in St. Augustine. Walk the dark narrow streets of the nation’s oldest city. Hear tales of those who came before us and refuse to leave. Guests will be lead by certified tour guides and will visit the Castillo de San Marcos, The City Gate, The Tolomato and Hugenot Cemeteries, as well as some other favorite paranormal hotspots.
A Paranormal Encounter This isyour opportunity to learn how to conduct your own paranotmal investigations. Tools and guidence are provided. Exclusive access to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
Walking History Tour Experience the excitement of historic St. Augustine & journey though time to discover it's dynamic history & rich culture on a first class immersive WALKING HISTORY TOUR experience. Expert led guided walking tours will not only educate, but captivate with amazing stories, as you explore through the Nation’s Oldest City. Take an in-depth St. Augustine adventure through the city streets sharing some of the iconic architecture and layered history. Dive into the inspiring chronicles of the legendary people and extraordinary places behind the nation’s oldest city. Learn about the value the port held for Spain and those who tried to conquer the town. Discover how St. Augustine evolved from humble beginnings, surviving multiple pirate attacks, evolving into a presidio and so much more! Family and pet freindly!
Educational/Group Tours - Educational/field trips and group tours area customized for your individual needs. Yours include professional guide service, itinerary planning and scheduling, attraction tickets , meals, transportation, accommodations, and more. No group too big.
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Ancient City Tours of St. Augustine!
Ancient city tours was founded in 1998 by diane lane, a st. augustine native and is a receptive tour operator in st. augustine, florida. whether you are an individual, couple, group, or an entire school, we can ensure that your memories go as planned. our relationships with not only the attractions, but the people behind the scenes, assures that you will have the opportunities to see all of st. augustine, and we can save you some money while you're at it. a ghostly encounter a 90 minute walking tour 7 nights a week. this award winning, non-scripted walking tour will take you deep into st. augustine's dark history. meeting at 11c st. george street, we are in the most active haunted spots in the city and are conveniently located next to the city gates and right across from castillo de san marcos. our professionally licensed guides are paranormal experts who weave the stories told from one generation to the next about st. augustine's strange and difficult past. our tour is recommended for all ages and is pet friendly. persons with mobility limitations will also enjoy our tour as we pay attention and ensure that you can access all our activities..
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22 Best Things To Do In St. Augustine, Florida
Known as the Ancient City, St. Augustine features centuries-old architecture, iconic cultural sites, and unspoiled beaches.
Jennifer Hawk is a former English professor with 24 years of experience guiding even the most reluctant through the labyrinths of writing, rhetoric, and research.
- Florida's Historic Coast
- Historical Icons
- Best Beaches
Where to Eat
Where to stay, when to visit.
The Fountain of Youth is calling your name—just like it called to the Spanish colonizers more than 500 years ago. Maybe it's those gorgeous beaches, or maybe it is something in the water. Either way, there is lots to explore in this charming city on Florida's Atlantic coast. Check out this travel guide for St. Augustine before your next Florida trip.
What to Know About Florida's Historic Coast
Most people don't realize St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the United States. (It was preceded by Puerto Rican colonies; Pensacola, which was destroyed in 1559; and Fort Caroline in Jacksonville, Florida, destroyed in 1565.) Ponce de León claimed "La Florida" for Spain in 1513, decades before the Jamestown colony of Virginia, and long before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Over the centuries, many cultures have called the city on Florida's Historic Coast home, including Native American, Spanish, British, French, and African.
Where to Find Historical Icons
Explore a historic fort.
One of the city's most architecturally significant structures, and also the oldest masonry fort in the country, the waterfront Castillo de San Marcos is truly a sight to behold. Built in the 17th century, the national monument is made of native coquina stones, which absorbed or deflected enemy projectiles, giving the Spanish an advantage. Climb to the top of the fort to see the incredible views of the city and waterfront.
nps.gov/casa , 11 South Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Visit a Free-Slave Settlement
Just two miles north of Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Mose Historic State Park is the location of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in North America. Learn about this important 40-acre historical site at the interactive museum, and stick around to spot bald eagles and blue herons.
floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/fort-mose-historic-state-park , 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Sip From the Fountain of Youth
Take a sip from the legendary fountain at Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park , which tells about the birth of St. Augustine, as well as the Timucuan people who preceded the Spanish by thousands of years. Walk through the lushly landscaped park (dogs are also allowed) to sample water from the bubbling fountains. Stroll the 15 acres of waterfront while you're there.
fountainofyouthflorida.com , 11 Magnolia Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Step Back in Time
History comes alive in the Colonial Quarter in St. Augustine's historic district along St. George Street. Journey through the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries to learn about blacksmithing, watch a live musket demo, and climb the 35-foot watchtower for panoramic views of St. Augustine's bayfront and the historic Castillo de San Marcos.
colonialquarter.com , 14 South Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Discover Flagler College's Historic Past
Fast forward to the early 20th century, when oil tycoon Henry Flagler developed St. Augustine into one of the country's first winter resort destinations. Paying homage to the city's past, the millionaire developer built the stunning Hotel Ponce de Leon (now Flagler College), with its opulent 80-foot domed ceiling and Spanish Renaissance architecture. In 1967, the hotel closed its doors, and the building opened as Flagler College in 1968. While the property is an active college campus, visitors can take a historic tour to learn about the architecture, stand in the domed grand lobby, and view 79 Tiffany windows in the dining room.
flagler.edu/about/our-history/hotel-college , 74 King St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Take a Guided Tour
Explore St. Augustine by a horse-drawn carriage ride , historic walking tour , or hop-on-and-off trolley ride . Many tour operators can craft an experience to fit any taste, whether culinary, historic, or even paranormal (yes, we're talking ghosts ). Legend has it that St. Augustine is one of the most haunted cities in America. Whether you're a believer or a skeptic, prepare to be entertained (and maybe a little frightened) on Ripley's Haunted Castle Tour , Old Town Trolley's Ghost & Gravestones Tour , or Ghost Tours of St. Augustine .
ripleys.com/staugustine/haunts-and-history , 19 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32084
trolleytours.com/st-augustine , 167 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32084
ghosttoursofstaugustine.net , 4 Granada St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Climb the Lighthouse
St. Augustine Lighthouse is rumored to be haunted too, but during the day it's perfectly ghost-free (they only come out at night, right?) and a gorgeous site to see. Halfway between downtown St. Augustine and the beaches of Anastasia Island, it's the oldest navigational site in North America and home to a maritime museum. If you're feeling energetic, climb 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse for incredible views.
staugustinelighthouse.org , 100 Red Cox Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Set Sail on an Offshore Adventure
Enjoy the sea and year-round balmy weather. Help hoist the sails of the Schooner Freedom , a massive topsail schooner captained by John and Sarah Zaruba. If you'd like to try your luck with a rod and reel, get offshore or on the flats on a fishing excursion with professional guides like Sea Love Charters or Drum Man Fishing Charters .
schoonerfreedom.com , 111 Avenida Menendez Suite D, St. Augustine, FL 32084
sealovefishing.com , 220 Nix Boat Rd, St. Augustine, FL 32084
drummancharters.com , 57 Comares Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Spend an Evening Listening to Live Music
For live music in the oldest city, walk along the downtown streets where a variety of restaurants host bands. The St. Augustine Seafood Company hosts free concerts at its on-site Colonial Oak Music Park . Known as The Amp, the nearly 5,000-seat St. Augustine Amphitheatre hosts ticketed live music performances. A little farther north, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is another popular performing arts venue.
saseafoodco.com , 33 St. George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
theamp.com , 1340C A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080
pvconcerthall.com , 1050 A1A North, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
Where to Find the Best Beaches
Kick off your shoes on unspoiled beaches.
While Florida's Historic Coast is most famous for its storied past, leave plenty of time to kick back on the area's unspoiled beaches. Home to the popular St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier , St. Augustine Beach offers a large oceanfront pavilion, splash and play park, sand volleyball courts, and plenty of seaside restaurants like Salt Life Food Shack .
Get in Touch with Nature
Just north of St. Augustine Beach, Anastasia State Park is a pristine stretch of sand with abundant wildlife and natural tidal marshes. There's a coquina quarry where laborers mined stones to build the majestic Castillo de San Marcos and other historic structures downtown.
In northern St. Johns County, Ponte Vedra Beach is famous for its historic and luxurious resort town feel. It's also the site where, according to navigational records, Ponce de Leon first set foot on Florida sand. View the exact spot at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve , with more than 76,000 acres of protected coastal dunes, tidal lagoons, and forests. It's a gorgeous location to hike, bike, fish, kayak, picnic, and ride horseback. There are over nine miles of nature trails, as well as a prehistoric earthen burial mound, and 60 additional archaeological sites.
gtmnerr.org , 505 Guana River Rd, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
Tour the Food Scene
There are plenty of options to taste local flavors along Florida's Historic Coast. Culinary tours allow you to sample cuisine from the many destinations that have influenced the city's history, including Spain, France, Italy, Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Check out The Tasting Tours and City Walks Food and Wine Tours . And you'll want to tour the St. Augustine Distillery , where you can sample small batch spirits in a restored ice plant dating back to 1917.
Dine with a Water View
Two crowd favorites equally famous for their water views and oyster bars are Meehan's Irish Pub & Seafood House in the heart of the historic district, and Cap's On The Water in Vilano Beach, which has killer sunset views of the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. The waterfront Aunt Kate's is a family-owned eatery with a tradition of serving Menorcan dishes, fresh seafood, and famous clam chowder for more than 100 years. The family's history dates back to Menorca island residents brought to New Smyrna as indentured servants. They fled the failed English Colony to safety in St. Augustine in 1768. And while the original restaurant succumbed to fire, the new building serves up the same great recipes right on the water.
facebook.com/MeehansIrishPub , 20 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, FL 32084
capsonthewater.com , 4325 Myrtle St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
aunt-kates.com , 612 Euclid Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Sample Southern Cuisine
And, of course, delectable Southern-style cooking is what many food lovers have grown to know and love about St. Augustine. Supporting local growers and producers, The Floridian features a regional take on traditional fare like fried green tomatoes, peppered shrimp, and barbecue pulled pork and waffles. Another local favorite, Catch 27 serves up hefty helpings of blackened chicken, grits, and deviled eggs.
thefloridianstaug.com , 72 Spanish St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
catchtwentyseven.com , 40 Charlotte St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
For an artisan-style after-dinner treat, head to Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops where flavors like Dragonfruit and Granny's Apple Pie are crafted with fresh fruit, spices, and herbs, or venture over to Peace Pie in the historic district for unique homemade ice-cream sandwiches, or nearby Whetstone Chocolates of St. Augustine , which offers a chocolate tasting tour.
thehyppo.com , 48 Charlotte St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
peacepieworld.com , 8 Aviles St, St Augustine, FL 32084
whetstonechocolates.com , 139 King St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Stay in a Historic Luxury Inn
Blending romance and history seamlessly, The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens is a high-end bed and breakfast with the ambiance of a luxury boutique hotel. Located in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, the inn features elegant guest rooms and suites that have been completely restored inside nine vintage structures—the oldest dating back to 1790. A Colonial-era Revival residence built in 1909 once welcomed visitors like Mark Twain and Sinclair Lewis.
thecollectorinn.com , 149 Cordova St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Book a Room in the Historic Spanish Quarter
A waterfront gem located within walking distance of historic downtown sites, restaurants, and shopping, the Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront hotel offers great views of the Bridge of Lions and Matanzas River. Many rooms in the Spanish Colonial cottage-style buildings provide views of the bay.
hilton.com/en/hotels/usthdhf-hilton-st-augustine-historic-bayfront , 32 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Wake Up to Ocean Views
For a lavish beachside escape, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is a AAA Five-Diamond stunner that originally opened in 1928 and has been attracting well-heeled guests for nearly a century. A major perk is the resort's 36 holes of serene seaside golf. Plus, there's tennis, kid's activities, a beautiful spa, and lots to do on the beach. Many rooms offer ocean views and walkout access to the beach. Make reservations at the upscale on-site Seahorse Grille for coastal cuisine.
pontevedra.com/stay/inn-club , 200 Ponte Vedra Blvd, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
Fall Asleep to the Sounds of Nature
Nestled between the St. Augustine Beach Pier Park and the 1,600-acre Anastasia State Park, Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort provides opportunities for water sports, nature hikes, and access to miles of pristine undeveloped beaches. Wake up steps from the beach, or enjoy coffee with views of St. Augustine beach from your balcony.
hilton.com/en/hotels/ustboes-embassy-suites-st-augustine-beach-oceanfront-resort , 300 A1A Beach Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Savor the St. Augustine Spanish Food and Wine Festival
Since Pedro Menéndez and the first European settlers arrived in St. Augustine more than 450 years ago carrying loads of wine from Spain, the historic city has become known as America's Spanish wine capital. Celebrating this unique heritage, the St. Augustine Spanish Food and Wine Festival in February features a series of special events at various venues that feature Spanish wine, cuisine, and culture. And all proceeds from the festival benefit local charities.
Enjoy a Month of Music
Let the rhythm move you at the annual Sing Out Loud Festival throughout September. Including big-name headliners and local talent and songwriters, the event features live music performances at venues around the city. The best part? It's the largest free music festival in Florida.
Experience Nights of Lights
St. Augustine transforms during the holidays for the annual Nights of Lights celebration. Wander through the historic district and witness magical displays of millions of Christmas lights. Enjoy Light-Up! Night, the beer-infused Nights of Pints, Villa Zorayda's annual Candlelight Tour, holiday concerts, craft festivals, boat parades, and more. The festival kicks off the Saturday before Thanksgiving and continues nightly through January.
Whenever you choose to visit, and however you fill your days, Florida's Historic Coast is a great place for a family vacation or solo trip.
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Ancient City Tours
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Ancient City Slingshots
Visitors can tour and travel around St. Augustine in a snazzy brightly colored Polaris Slingshot.
210 SR-16 St. Augustine, FL 32084
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Ancient City Slingshots offers Polaris touring vehicles to anyone over 21 (with a valid driver's license) who wants to tour St. Augustine the fun way — in a brightly-colored two-seater, three-wheeled, Slingshot. Slingshots can be rented for four, eight, and 24-hour sessions.
These 2021 Polaris Slingshot R models are gas-powered and have a peak torque of 166 foot-pounds at 47 RPM. They are suitable for any paved road from the narrow streets of St. Augustine to U.S.1, A1A, and I-95. Ancient City Slingshots rents both five-speed stick shift and automatic models. Each Slingshot has a Bluetooth audio system, a seven-inch navigation and vehicle command touch display, a tall windshield, and quilted comfort seats.
Drivers new to these zippy three-wheeled road vehicles may opt to rent one for an hour's worth of instruction and practice before booking a Slingshot for a half day, whole day, or overnight. These are open-top vehicles with just a bit of storage -- room for hats, sunscreen, plenty of water, and a compact picnic lunch. They are perfect for driving around town, or for taking a road trip to Jacksonville, Daytona, Ponte Vedra, down A1A on Anastasia Island, or on the quieter roads along the St. Johns River.
Ancient City Slingshots will gladly assist tourists and corporate groups who want to rent multiple vehicles, so everyone can enjoy the view from a Slingshot while touring St. Augustine.
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Embark on a delectable journey through the heart of St. Augustine's burgeoning craft beer scene. Our comprehensive brewery tours uncover the city's hidden gems, where artisanal brews and spirits await your discerning palate. Discover the art of brewing, sample award-winning creations, and savor the flavors that have earned St. Augustine its reputation as a beer lover's paradise. …
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20 Best Things to Do in St. Augustine, Florida
Here's how locals recommend exploring the coastal city, from ghost tours to gourmet ice pops.
With more than 450 years of history, it's not surprising that St. Augustine — the oldest continuously occupied settlement in America — is packed with intrigue. This coastal city is one of the best places to visit in Florida , thanks to all the fascinating things to do and see here, plus quaint places to stay and delicious eats to enjoy.
If there’s anyone who knows the best things to do in St. Augustine, it’s Barbara Golden, who has served as communications manager at the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau since 2005. “I’ve been lucky enough to work in the tourism industry in the St. Augustine area for more than 40 years,” Golden says. “I get to explore and interact with great people and experiences here every day.”
Of course, the city has other superfans, too, like Florida travel and lifestyle blogger Mandy Mizell, who's known as The Flohemian to her followers. “I first visited St. Augustine on my fourth-grade field trip — a Floridian rite of passage — and fell in love,” Mizell says. “I told my mom at the tender age of 10 that I was going to Flagler College, which I did for a year. When I met my husband, a Flagler College alum, I started visiting the area three to four times per year and spending every Christmas there with his family. I began a Florida travel blog shortly after I met him, and I used our family visits as an opportunity to seek new adventures around St. Augustine.”
Serving as your unofficial tour guides, here's what Golden and Mizell point to as the best things to do in St. Augustine, from classic, can’t-miss attractions to lesser-known locals’ picks.
Related : Hotels to Book for a Trip to St. Augustine
Go for a ride with Old Town Trolley Tours.
It may be touristy, Mizell admits, but taking a ride with Old Town Trolley Tours is a great and easy way to get around St. Augustine, and you'll hear historical tidbits about the 458-year-old city as you go. Plus, Mizell points out, “It’s a free sober ride around town — and most of the local distilleries, wineries, and breweries offer free tastings. There’s also a connection to the Old Town Trolley Beach bus, so you can easily navigate the area without a car.”
Tour Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a Spanish stone fortress that was built in 1695 and offers unbeatable views of St. Augustine Inlet. “I love to stand on the ramparts, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean,” Golden says. “I love to imagine what it was like living here in the 1600s, being on watch for approaching pirates or British invaders. Today, the views are of boats moored in the Bayfront, pods of dolphins swimming and playing in the bay, and kayakers paddling by. The rangers, reenactors, and storytellers here are engaging, and I learn something new about our history every time I visit.”
Mizell shares the same love for the landmark and recommends visiting after sundown. “The fort has a special energy at night, and it’s completely free of charge to wander the grounds outside after hours. The entire fort is illuminated, making for some fun night photos with palm tree shadows in the background. You’ll also overhear haunted tales as ghost tours pass through the area. Sit on the wall during a full moon and watch boats cruise along the Matanzas River.”
Cool down with a gourmet popsicle.
Everyone loves a home-grown success story, and The Hyppo is exactly that. Opened in 2010 with a little money and a lot of passion, this shop sells ice pops that are inspired by Mexican paletas, and they contain local, in-season produce and herbs in super-fresh flavor combinations like cucumber lemon mint, blackberry jasmine, pineapple ginger, and (this writer’s favorite) mango mojito. Today, there are five Hyppo locations around Florida, plus pop peddlers across the nation. The pop shop is named for the patron saint of Saint Augustine — the city was discovered on the day of the Feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo — and their flagship store location is on Hypolita Street.
Get spooked on a ghost tour.
It’s another touristy itinerary item, but ghost tours in St. Augustine are popular for a reason, and you simply can’t leave the city without taking one. From Old Town Trolley Tours’ Ghosts & Gravestones tour aboard their signature ghoulish trolleys to lantern-lit walking tours with Ghost Tours of St. Augustine , there are many to choose from, some more spooky than others. Expect to end the night fully freaked out after hearing tales of St. Augustine’s dark past and the hauntings that continue today.
Tour the St. Augustine Distillery and have a drink upstairs.
The St. Augustine Distillery and upstairs Ice Plant Bar is a two-for-one stop. “No visit to the Oldest City is complete without embracing its true spirits,” Mizell says. “This local distillery is located inside the historic FPL Ice Plant. They offer free tours with complimentary tastings, which will get the light drinker quite tipsy. Be sure to visit the Ice Plant restaurant and bar upstairs for a cocktail, where each concoction is served with special types of ice.” There’s also a gift shop where you can purchase the distillery’s sippables, plus non-alcoholic treats that are often created in collaboration with other local businesses.
Visit St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum.
For a birds-eye take on the Oldest City, head to St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum . “Climb 219 steps to the top for the most spectacular view of historic St. Augustine, the surrounding area, and the Atlantic Ocean,” Golden recommends. “I also like touring the grounds to see the wooden boatworks and the local volunteers working to build authentic replica vessels. My favorite part is entering the archaeology lab to observe maritime archeologists working to identify and restore some of the treasures they find on wrecks off our coast — most hundreds of years old.”
Relax at the beach.
While the main appeal of St. Augustine is certainly its winding cobblestone streets and centuries-old Spanish colonial architecture, its beaches are also worth a visit. Nearby St. Augustine Beach is a popular choice, while the white sands of tranquil Crescent Beach and breezy Butler Beach are perfect places to unwind.
Dine at The Floridian Restaurant.
For full-fledged, Florida-style dining with a Southern twang, chow down at The Floridian Restaurant . “Located on Spanish Street, this farm-to-table restaurant is adorned with quirky Florida decor, such as vintage rattan, alligator heads, and Florida kitsch,” Mizell shares. “The native Floridian chef composed a menu sourcing local ingredients with dishes that pay homage to all the flavors that influence St. Augustine. It's predominantly upscale Southern fare with local recipes passed down over generations.”
Plan a wintertime visit to experience Nights of Lights.
There’s no bad time of year to visit St. Augustine, but some visitors make annual pilgrimages from mid-November to the end of January to witness Nights of Lights , one of the top holiday light displays in the world. Decked in millions of tiny white lights, the city glows with a warm and festive atmosphere that’s breathtaking to see, and the spectacle is completely free to enjoy.
Watch a show at St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
Located on Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre is an outdoor amphitheater that seats up to 4,000 people, making it a great place to catch some of your favorite acts. Mizell also recommends going on a Saturday morning, when you can browse a farmers’ market full of local vendors selling produce, art, and prepared foods. “There’s always live music, and it gives you a real glimpse of the local life and flavors of St. Augustine,” Mizell says. “Oftentimes there’s a featured local artist or author that you can chat with and learn lore about the Oldest City.”
Zipline over crocodiles.
Alligators and Florida go together like beaches and sunshine, and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is a great place for an up-close (but safe) encounter, plus educational programming. “My favorite experience is the Crocodile Crossing, a zipline and ropes course over the crocs and gators,” Golden shares. “It’s a workout and a fun way to see the park’s inhabitants.” Another favorite is the rookery, where hundreds of wading birds nest each year between February and June. “The sight is amazing,” Golden adds. “If you love birding, this is the spot — roseate spoonbills, egrets, herons of all kinds, and more can be seen here.”
Try local chocolate.
If you have a sweet tooth, Golden recommends touring the Whetstone Chocolates factory . “Free samples come with this tour that tells the story of chocolate (one of my favorite things in life), including the Spaniards introducing it to the rest of the world, how artisan chocolates are made, and the right way to eat fine chocolate,” she shares.
Stroll Magnolia Avenue.
Contrary to what its name suggests, Magnolia Avenue is lined not with blooming magnolias but with the second-most Southern of trees: “This scenic street is shaded by live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and it's one of the most photographed streets in America,” Mizell says. “It also has a great photo opportunity in front of the Fountain of Youth sign.” Directly across the street, grab a freshly squeezed lemonade from The Fountain of Juice to enjoy as you walk.
Take a scenic drive.
Hit the road for a 72-mile coastal drive along the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway from Ponte Vedra Beach to Flagler Beach. “I like to pack a picnic and head down to the spectacular beaches at Matanzas Inlet, then take the ferry over to our other fort, Fort Matanzas ,” Golden shares. “Paddle the inland waters with Ripple Effect EcoTours to see dolphins and other native animals in their natural habitat, followed by a visit to Marineland Dolphin Adventure to take a deeper dive into the aquatic life here, and — my very favorite — swim with a dolphin and learn to speak their language.”
Get out on the water.
Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and sailing are great ways to get another perspective on St. Augustine. “I feel safest with minimal boat traffic, paddling in front of the Castillo de San Marcos, on Salt Run, or at Matanzas Inlet,” Golden shares. She also recommends sailing charters for all the salty fun with none of the work. “One of my favorites is St. Augustine Sailing for a sunset sail — makes me feel like I am in a Christopher Cross song. They also have some really fun themed sails — brunch, Magic on the High Seas, and dinner cruises with a private chef.”
Visit Ponte Vedra Beach.
Don’t forget about Ponte Vedra Beach — a luxury resort town with beaches, golf, and nature preserves just north of St. Augustine. “The beaches at Ponte Vedra are very unique, and between St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra sits the GTM NERR ; we refer to it as the GTM Reserve,” says Golden. “This is the coastal site where Ponce de Leon actually sighted land on April 2, 1513, and came ashore the following day and claimed all of Florida for Spain. There’s even a statue of Ponce de Leon at the north beach parking area. The sand dunes here tower over the coquina beaches; in fact, they are 40 feet high in some places — the highest dunes in Florida. It’s also a great place to hunt for fossilized shark’s teeth .”
Take a nighttime bioluminescent kayaking tour.
Want to get out on the water, no SPF required? “One of my other favorite activities at the GTM Reserve is a night paddle with Geo Trippin ,” Golden shares. “They take guests out on Guana Lake, where they paddle into the night to see the bioluminescent jelly combs. It’s like magic to see the sparkles that light up around your paddle in the water, and your guide will explain the existence of this natural phenomenon since the beginning of man and its importance to our environment. Unlike other places where biolumes are a seasonal occurrence, they are present year-round on Guana Lake.”
Book a food tour.
The food scene in St. Augustine has exploded in recent years, with eateries dedicated not only to the latest food trends but also to showcasing locals’ culinary heritage, from Greek, Menorcan, and Latin influences to down-home Southern cooking. “It’s hard to eat at all the great restaurants here, so I like to taste a few at a time on one of our city’s food tours ,” Golden says. “They change featured restaurants (usually three to four on each tour) and the chef or a manager comes to the table to talk about what’s so special at their restaurant.”
Groove at Colonial Oak Music Park.
According to Mizell, one of the hidden treasures of historic St. George Street is Colonial Oak Music Park , where you can “listen to live local music under a 300-year-old oak tree streamed with lantern lights.” What could be better? The one-of-a-kind venue also has improv comedy nights, where you can sit back and enjoy a laugh or become part of the show as an audience volunteer. “In September, the Colonial Oak hosts artists during St. Augustine’s annual Sing Out Loud Festival and features national music acts,” she adds. “The best news is that most events have free admission, so you can pop in for a song or hang out for the whole evening.”
Visit Anastasia State Park.
Located less than 10 minutes by car from historic downtown St. Augustine, the serene Anastasia State Park has 1,600 acres of beaches, tidal marshes, maritime hammocks, and ancient sand dunes, where visitors can swim, fish, canoe, kayak, hike, and even camp. The park also has a full calendar of events , from guided paddle adventures and bird walks to trail hikes and coffee with a park ranger. It’s a vacation within a vacation, right in the middle of everything.
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