One place in Central Florida we can never get enough of is St. Augustine! We loved it there – but then again, we love historical places AND what’s not to love about St. Augustine when it is as historical as they come?! Not many cities can boast about being the oldest, although I hear someplace up North used to.
A quick visit to the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Visitor Information Center on Castillo Drive will show you all of the touristy stops you need to make. The Alligator Farm is always a hit, local museums and galleries, beaches, the Lighthouse (we never went into it in the nearly years we lived in the area).
Naturally, we have been to the Fort (Castillo De San Marcos) several times — at least yearly! I recommend you visit on a cool day because it can get very hot (and un-enjoyable) if you try to visit in 90 degree weather. Standing on top of the fort with the hot sun beating down on the coquina rock does not make for a pleasant afternoon! We did that once and I thought I was going to die!
My favorite part of visiting the Fort isn’t being inside at all… it is going over the drawbridge and picnicking on the greenspace. The drawbridge seems so small until you are upon it and then it seems so large. It is a feeling that you have to experience yourself to understand fully. In regards to the grass, I remember rolling down the green hills outside of the fort when I was a child. My husband thought I had lost it the first time we visited and I encouraged our children to lie on the grass and roll to the bottom of the hill instead of walk. (It’s fun – you should try it! Ha!)
When my sister-in-law was visiting one year we opted for a late night Ghost Walk with the kids for a little variety! We weren’t sure what do expect from it, but afterwards we were left wondering why we hadn’t done it sooner! It was fantastic! It wasn’t really a ghost tour, but more like a fascinating history lesson instead.
Our Ghost Tour guide was a tough as nails elderly woman. She didn’t allow other adults to smoke around my kids, made sure they watched their language, and always allowed the little ones up front when she was speaking! We loved her! We all walked together throughout the Old City at midnight by the light from her little lantern. She told us about being “saved by the bell” and how kids say they are greeted by a friendly little girl when they come through the city gates. Her stories were a wonderful treat that even my scared little one (who was only 6 at the time) couldn’t resist! Don’t stray from the ghost tours – they are a wonderful history lesson that you won’t learn in school or on that haunted trolley ride!
My husband has always been fascinated with Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Have you ever been to one? We can’t pass them up. Inside you will find the largest indoor Ferris wheel make out of an erector set…. You know, the little boy’s building toy. Yes, someone made a very Ferris wheel out of them! Another memorable exhibit was their Pirates. When you are in St. Augustine – you have to do something that involves pirates!
If you are lucky enough to visit St. Augustine during their annual Pirate Gathering (Nov.) you are in for a wonderful treat. They have free pirate reenactment shows and even parades. You can really make a day (or weekend) of it and the little ones love it!
On the rare occasion that my husband and I had a babysitter, we enjoyed walking through the many art galleries in the area. They have a “First Friday Art Walk” on the first Friday of every month. Trolley rides are free for the night if you are participating in the Art Walk. (*according to their website, only one trolley ride will be given free.)
I can’t tell you where to have dinner as we never actually dined anywhere. We always stopped into the small sweet shops on St. George Street and snacked on specialty treats.
If you want a “local’s” advice… the best time of the year to come to St. Augustine is Nov-Jan. The weather is perfect, the tourist aren’t as abundant, and there are plenty of activities to keep you happy~ wait until I tell you about Christmas in St. Augustine!
Parking in St. Augustine is getting harder and harder to find and the parking garage is $15 a day! Sheesh… don’t park there if you don’t have plans that will keep you there all day- not worth it. If you plan on going to Ripley’s, Parking is FREE for patrons and they are really nice about letting you keep your vehicle there for a little while after you leave.
If you stay for the day with little ones, there is a WONDERFUL park right behind the parking garage – one of our favorites in Central Florida! Project SWING will keep everyone entertained and provide the parents with much-needed rest!
- Community Calendar
- City of St. Augustine
- Florida’s Historic Coast
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not
- Old Town Trolley Tours