Located along the northern portion of Florida’s Atlantic coast between Jacksonville to the north and Daytona Beach to the south, St. Augustine is a city of about 7,000 residents that’s known for its beautiful beaches and largely undeveloped natural areas.
Though many visitors choose to veg-out and soak-up the Florida sun, many opt for hitting the road. Day-trips are popular to the cities mentioned above, and a variety of state and national parks and historic sites are close-at-hand as well.
Sport-fishing, boating and kayaking along the St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway have always been popular, and there are abundant lodging and dining options too.
Below are 15 things to do in and around St. Augustine Beach, Florida.
1. Anastasia State Park
Located just a few minutes away from St. Augustine Beach, Anastasia State Park is comprised of marshes, mangroves, and idyllic beaches that tend to make outdoor-loving visitors feel like they’re farther away from civilization than they really are.
Anastasia State Park is a big hit with bird-watchers, hikers, and all-around nature enthusiasts. Due to its abundant amenities and convenient location, it’s where many vacationers in the area spend much of their time.
The park includes more than 1,500 acres. For those who’d prefer to spend a night or two, there are more than 130 campsites, and it’s possible to rent kayaks and bicycles for one or more days.
2. St. Augustine Beach Pier
St. Augustine Beach Pier is conveniently located adjacent to the northern section of St. Augustine Beach, making it the perfect place to visit in the late afternoon when the Florida sun is beginning to set over the horizon.
The area is one of the region’s most scenic, and the pier is a great place to relax while taking in the remarkable ocean vistas, or with a good book and a cold drink.
Amenities include bathrooms, showers, and covered seating areas, and there’s ample city parking nearby that’s relatively inexpensive.
The pier is also within easy walking distance of the city’s popular Wednesday morning farmer’s market.
3. Castillo de San Marcos
Located on South Castillo Drive along the western side of Matanzas Bay, Castillo de San Marcos is one of the St. Augustine Beach area’s most popular and significant historic attractions and dates back more than three centuries.
When the Spanish constructed it in the 1600s, the fort housed a small garrison tasked with defending the coastline. Now, it’s a national monument situated on about 20 scenic acres overlooking the waterway.
The site’s exhibits include weapons and historic signs describing the harsh conditions of life in the castle in ages past. There are often actors in period costumes going about their daily routines much the way residents did hundreds of years ago.
4. Faver-Dykes State Park
Conveniently located near the junction of Interstate 95 and US Route 1, Faver-Dykes State Park is about a 20-minute drive from St. Augustine Beach and lies along one of the premier sections of the state’s popular canoe trail.
Though the park doesn’t have the amenities that other area parks do, therein lies much of its charm; it tends to draw smaller crowds, making it an excellent destination for those who prefer to enjoy nature and avoid the hordes.
Canoeing and kayaking are popular park activities, and fishing, camping, hiking and wildlife viewing are perennial favorites as well.
5. Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf
Though traditional golf is one of the Sunshine State’s prime attractions, it’s not always doable for those traveling with little ones.
Miniature golf, on the other hand, is a blast for all ages, and there’s no need to worry about proper attire or course etiquette.
Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf features an 18-hole course that’s adjacent to a hotel popular with out-of-state visitors. It boasts an abundance of waterfalls, caves, and gazebos that make it both challenging and scenic.
Playing at night under the lights is a fun way to end a long day, and the course is close enough to the ocean to get round-the-clock sea breezes.
6. Mango Mango’s Caribbean Grill
Mango Mango’s Caribbean Grill has attracted quite a loyal following over the past decade. For many locals looking for great food at reasonable prices and a laid-back restaurant with a relaxed yet trendy vibe, it’s a real go-to location.
The restaurant is just a short walk from the beach and features Caribbean and Latin American influenced cuisines sporting fresh local ingredients, vibrant flavors, and a chill, island atmosphere.
Mango Mango’s are particularly known for their corn cakes and jerk chicken, and there are a variety of vegan and gluten-free options available for those with dietary restrictions as well.
7. St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
The waters off Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf Coasts were once crawling with pirates and other nefarious characters involved in rum-running and pillaging coastal towns. The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is one of the best places to learn about this interesting and disturbing slice of local history.
The museum is located on South Castillo Drive in St. Augustine and gives guests a unique and often hair-raising insight into the lives and legends of some of the area’s most memorable pirates and treasure seekers.
The museum’s permanent exhibits include artifacts, historical documents, and weapons, as well as multimedia presentations.
8. The Lightner Museum
Located on King Street in St. Augustine, The Lightner Museum is housed in a historic hotel that was originally built in the 1880s and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building was constructed in the Spanish Revival Style and includes a tranquil, palm-lined courtyard featuring ponds and a bridge.
The museum’s exhibits touch on a variety of topics – from local history and culture to music, science, and art from the Victorian era.
Most previous museum guests considered the cost of admission reasonable, though it costs a few bucks more to visit popular exhibits featuring works by famous artists like Degas.
9. Old City St. Augustine
It’s not too well known outside the area, but the coast around St. Augustine is some of the oldest continually inhabited land in the country.
Old City St. Augustine is full of quaint streets, historic buildings, and trendy cafes and shops that make it popular with history-minded travelers and those who prefer self-guided tours to more organized ones.
With a little online research, it’s possible to put together a list of worthwhile attractions located within a few blocks of one another. Many guests end-up staying in Old City longer than they’d intended.
For those who’d rather be shown around by a knowledgeable local, there are a variety of tour options available as well.
10. World Golf Hall of Fame
Golfers from all over the country flock to Florida during the fall, winter, and spring months to enjoy its abundant courses and perfect weather. For many, a trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame is a must.
The facility is located at the World Golf Village just northwest of downtown St. Augustine and includes tens of thousands of square feet of permanent exhibits dedicated to the history of golf both worldwide and in the Sunshine State.
The Hall of Fame’s exhibits include historic memorabilia pertaining to golf’s most memorable moments and the evolution of the game over the years, as well as the contributions made by women players.
11. Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas was built by the Spanish in 1742 to protect the river that leads to St. Augustine.
In those days, the seas and land around St. Augustine were territories of Spain at a time when the country was exerting its colonial power. In addition to Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Matanzas was key to protecting their overseas territory.
Now, the fort is a national monument that’s set on more than 100 acres and includes officer and soldier’s barracks, magazines, ramparts, and even original canons.
The monument’s grounds are connected by easily walkable paths and plenty of historic plaques describing the thing’s you’re seeing; it’s common to see a range of wildlife as well.
12. The Ximenez-Fatio House
Located on Aviles Street in St. Augustine, the Ximenez-Fatio House was built in the last few years of the 18th century. For much of its existence, it operated as a boarding house primarily used by merchants and government officials visiting the area.
The house is known for its quaint and historic stone architecture and gives visitors a unique glimpse into the manner of living more than two centuries ago when the area was unexplored and dangerous.
The house is inexpensive to visit and located just a few blocks inland from the St. Augustine Inlet within easy walking distance from the Lightner Museum.
13. St. Augustine Amphitheater
In many ways, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre is the modern yin to the historic town’s centuries-old yang. It was built in the mid-’60s to commemorate its 400th anniversary.
The park surrounding the facility is comprised of nearly 20 scenic acres, and during events, the amphitheater can seat thousands of spectators.
During the cool fall and winter months, the facility hosts a variety of live entertainment and concerts, but during non-event days, it’s a popular destination for walkers and tourists. It’s conveniently close to other attractions like the Old City’s Saturday morning farmer’s market and a number of historic buildings.
14. Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Legend has it that centuries ago, Ponce de Leon was looking for the ever-elusive Fountain of Youth when he landed on the Florida coast.
Sadly, the aging explorer came up empty-handed, but those visiting the area can get a fascinating insight into the region’s history by visiting Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park on Magnolia Avenue in St. Augustine.
The park is comprised of more than ten acres and includes historic markers describing the landing, as well as a partially reconstructed village of the Timucuan Native Americans, who lived in the area for generations before it was officially discovered and settled.
15. The Whetstone Chocolate Factory Tour
Since 1967, The Whetstone Chocolate Factory has been producing St. Augustine’s most sought after sweets. In addition to their assortment of chocolates, fudges, and candies, many visitors choose to join one of their regularly scheduled factory tours.
The Whetstone Factory is located on King Street and was built in the mid-‘80s. For guests unfamiliar with the way chocolate and confections are made, it’s a unique experience that’s usually a big hit with the old and young alike.
Of course, there are samples along the way, and most visitors choose to swing by the gift shop before heading out to pick up an item or two.