There are so many things to do in St. Augustine, Florida. I’ve rounded up the top places to visit, using my personal experience spending a day in this gorgeous seaside town.
St. Augustine is the oldest settlement in America. Established in the 1500s, this quaint but densely-packed town holds historical importance and gorgeous scenic views. As you explore Avenida Menendez along the bay, there are countless museums, restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops, boat tours, and more.
If you cross The Bridge of Lions, you’ll quickly reach St. Augustine Beach, where even more places await. (This includes quite a few beaches!)
We explored this city just a couple of weeks ago, in the beginning of November. This is the perfect time to visit. The town felt like it was practically just ours. Sure, there were a few other tourists and some locals. But not nearly as many as during the summer season.
We explored St. Augustine on a calm Monday, the week after a small tropical storm had hit. (Just for a little context.) Nearly everything was still open, though.
The parking garage centered in the middle of town was ours for the taking. It was a windy, warm day with a high of 72. I don’t think we could have chosen a more perfect time to visit St. Augustine, honestly.
There was no wait at any of the places we dined at. The boat tour we had scheduled typically accommodates 100 people, and there were only 12 people aboard. The beach had only a handful of small groups peppered along the vast coast. Even when we visited a couple of historical sites, I was able to get most photos without having passersby photobombing the shots, too. All in all, an excellent day!
You see, we had flown to Orlando with AJ’s family for a Disney vacation. But we decided we wanted a little getaway for a day on the coast, too. St. Augustine quickly climbed to the top of my list due to the array of activities to do, the ocean views, and being only around two hours away by car.
I have to say, this was my favorite day on the trip. There is something so special about spending time alone with your favorite person and being able to tick all those things off your list of places and things you’d like to experience together.
Now, why don’t we get into more about which specific places I’d recommend most, based on my own personal experience… with a few more additions. After all, we only had one day to spend here, so we couldn’t choose everything. We would have loved to stay a week and visit them all.
Here are all the best things to do in St. Augustine, Florida.
Things To Do in St. Augustine, Florida
Victory lll Scenic Cruise of St. Augustine Boat Tour | things to do in st. augustine, florida
I scheduled our tour and purchased tickets in advance online for about $45 for the both of us. It was well worth it, being a great value for the small price. The Victory lll boat takes visitors on a 75-minute cruise around the Matanzas Bay area, giving you a full tour of the town on the coast, by boat. You will see everything from the lighthouse to mansions off the coast to the main drag (including Castillo de San Marcos National Monument).
Additionally, you may see some dolphins and manatees. We were lucky to spot some sea turtles and dolphins just as we were boarding the boat and in the middle of our tour on the sea. Employees were so kind, offering drinks from their bar and offering to take photos of visitors in front of the lighthouse. It is definitely an experience that you want to plan on tipping well for. Though I will say that we were lucky to be visiting during a time with less visitors. We were only one couple of the six on the tour!
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument | things to do in st. augustine, florida
A national monument managed by the National Park Service, this is one of the most noteworthy sites in St. Augustine. It’s no wonder because you can’t exactly ignore it as you’re touring the streets of St. Augustine. It overlooks the bay area and is located in one of the most high-traffic areas of town. This 17th-century fortress is surrounded by a moat, a remarkable sight to see whether you’re traveling by car, foot, or sea.
Many rooms are open for exploring, with lots of information and displays similar to a museum. Head upstairs to the top level and you’re overlooking St. Augustine and the bay on the east side. It is truly a remarkable place.
Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park | things to do in st. augustine, florida
This is such a magical place. The Fountain of Youth is not what I had imagined: a large fountain spewing water in the middle of town. Instead, this archaeological park is located in a neighborhood, just off an estuary. Be prepared to see lots of historical elements and beautiful gardens everywhere. There were even peacocks wandering about that you’re able to feed near the end of your tour.
Don’t worry, you can still sample the natural spring water that the Fountain of Youth offers. Just be warned, it does not taste good. But, hey, you have to try it at least once!
There are lots of little activities throughout the park including: walking the boardwalk toward the estuary, viewing a show theater-style in the planetarium, and watching cannonballs being shot by guides. Not a place you want to miss.
St. Augustine Beach | things to do in st. augustine, florida
I highly recommend visiting one of the many beaches in St. Augustine Beach. We found one near St. John’s County Ocean Pier and absolutely adored it. Go just an hour before sunset (or just before sunrise in the morning) for a miraculous experience. It is also cooler (and windier) during these hours, so be sure to bring a jacket if you visit in the off season.
The pier itself was closed when we visited due to recent hurricane damage. But we traveled a block or two south of this, parked in an alley, and found the entrance to the public beach.
This beach was nothing like the beaches I’d been to in South Beach Miami. The beach was full of seashells nearly everywhere we looked. It wasn’t packed at all. The sand was lighter and the entire experience was much calmer. This is definitely a relaxed, family-friendly beach. At least during November.
Swim or wade in the sea, collect unique seashells on the shore, and walk with your partner along the sand as the waves hit and breeze sweeps your face. If you’re looking for this type of beach experience, choose this one.
Restaurants | things to do in st. augustine, florida
Schmagel’s Bagels is the most adorable little bagel shop with outdoor seating against a historic brick building vining with vibrant flowers. The atmosphere is everything you could imagine with the freshest, tastiest bagels ever. They offer around 15 varieties of bagels with nearly just as many types of cream cheese, plus some breakfast sandwiches. Great for a quick breakfast to start your day.
Meehan’s Irish Pub was our stop after our boat tour for a delicious lunch that would fuel our touring for the rest of the afternoon. They offer plenty of beer for those looking to take the edge off from traveling. As far as food goes, they have plenty of sandwiches, burgers, and fish on the menu. My husband enjoyed a hefty burger with fries, while I noshed on fresh, grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, and green beans, all garnished with a sweet cherry sauce and chopped almonds. They also offer balcony seating, which is always welcoming when visiting a beach town.
After we finished our day of fun, just after the beach, we stopped for a quick dinner at A1A Burrito Works. It is a bit of a hippie joint you’d expect to see in California, but it’s a fun atmosphere with great food. They offer lots of Mexican sodas and beers, along with a slew of burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. Really delicious when you just want to eat something quick and not spend an arm and a leg on dinner. Highly recommend!
Things we wish we had time to do in St. Augustine…
I wish we’d had time for this. A trolley takes you through all the main points in town, traveling the cobblestone roads and stopping at around 20 different places in total. They run most of the day (but stop before nightfall) and are perfect for those not wanting to miss a thing that the town offers.
I have a deep love and appreciation for lighthouses. I would have loved to stop in here and make the trip to the top. But at least we were lucky enough to get a good view of it from the sea as we traveled on the boat tour.
This was one of the more odd points of interest in town. (And believe me, there are plenty of quirky places.) However, upon further investigation online, I learned there was quite a bit to see in this museum. They feature many devices used over time by murderers to torture victims. Even better, they’re an interactive historical museum for all the history buffs out there. I just wouldn’t recommend it if you’re squamish or have children.
I would have loved to tour and sample some of the spirits here, but time did not allow for that. With a commitment to sustainability and preserving history, this place has so much to offer. Guests tour the facility as they’re educated about the making of their many spirits and even get to sample it at the end.
This is perfect for those wanting to do something a little different, during the evening hours. They offer the chance to explore the town through a different lens and immerse yourself into the spooky side of history in St. Augustine. This sounds like such a unique experience. I would love to try this if we ever return.