“Is St. Augustine worth visiting?”, you are bound to have this question if you are planning a vacation north of Sunshine State.
Although St. Augustine might not enjoy the popularity of some of its bigger and more developed counterparts like Destin, Pensacola, Orlando, or Miami, it’s no secret that the oldest and historically and culturally significant coastal town is enchanting in its own way. But is it worth a trip?
The charming coastal city of St. Augustine is definitely worth visiting for its rich history with a number of significant historical monuments, cultural districts, arts scene, lively nightlife, and above all the pristine white sand beaches that offer plenty of activities and a great spot to escape into a different realm.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what makes St. Augustine so special and decide if it’s worth adding to your travel bucket list.
Is St. Augustine Worth Visiting?
This charming historical town of St. Augustine is certainly not behind then popular beach towns like Destin, Pensacola, or Miami when it comes to amazing beaches.
St. Augustine is home to some of the best white sand beaches in Florida. The soft white sand, turquoise blue waters of the Atlantic, the swaying palm trees with plenty of activities to enjoy, and amazing restaurants, shops, and cafes lining the beaches make it a perfect place to enjoy a beach vacation.
St. Agustine’s 42 miles of shorelines include beaches like St. Augustine Beach and Cresent Beach, which are known for their soft hard-packed sands and lively atmosphere and then there are beaches like Matanzas Inlet and Vilano Beach which have darker shade sands due to crushed coquina shells from the waves.
Every beach in St. Augustine is unique in its own way, whether you are looking for a lively vibe with plenty of activities to do or a tranquil beach setting to just sit back and relax and enjoy the views of the Atlantic, there’s a beach for you.
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Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is one of the most important historical attractions in St. Augustine and is a must-see monument on your trip to the city.
This amazing fort was built by the Spanish in the 1600s to defend the city from pirate attacks and other hostile forces. Today, the monument stands as an important piece of Florida’s rich history and is open to the public as a museum.
Take a stroll on the fort grounds and explore the colonial-era Spanish architecture, and its significance throughout the history of Florida, and climb atop its walls to enjoy the panoramic views of the charming town of St. Augustine.
Being the oldest city in the USA the Castillo de San Marcos holds vital importance in telling the history of Florida and the museum does a wonderful job of educating visitors about its legacy through many well-preserved artifacts.
So, make sure to add this place to your must-see list while visiting St. Augustine.
St. George Street
Located in the heart of St. Augustine, St. George Street is a place where you can explore the city’s fascinating history along with some great fun and food.
St. George Street is lined with many Spanish colonial buildings, many of which date back to the early 18th century.
The street is also home to many amazing restaurants, cafes, and shops in St. Augustine making it a great place to take a leisurely stroll down the streets to enjoy the sights and sounds of this charming historical street.
The street is pedestrian-only, making it a great place to stroll and soak up the atmosphere. Come evening, the street comes alive with live music and entertainment.
So, if you looking for a great place to spend an evening enjoying people-watching, shopping, dining on delicious food, and exploring the architecture of this unique coastal city then head to St. George Street.
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Another main attraction and one of the most historically important places in St. Augustine, Colonial Quarter is living history that transports you back in time into the lives of early Spanish settlers in 18th century America.
The Quarter comprises several different buildings, each of which has been meticulously restored to its former glory.
As you take a stroll down the quarter you can explore the several homes and shops of early settlers, and learn about their everyday lives.
There are several interactive exhibits such as the blacksmith shop and a candle-making studio that are engaging and fun ways to learn about how early tradesmen went about their business in the 18th century.
And, of course, no visit to the Colonial Quarter would be complete without taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. It’s a great way to explore the historical quarters from a different perspective.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is one of the most popular tourist spots in St. Augustine with over 200,000 visitors each year.
This amazing lighthouse was first built in 1874 and is the oldest standing structure in St. Augustine and has been a beacon for thousands of ships since then.
The museum is home to several exhibits of many shipwrecks, piracy, and the Civil war which tell the story of St. Augustine’s fascinating maritime history.
You can climb to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its spectacular shorelines.
The best part of visiting the museum is their amazing boat tours to the nearby Matanzas Bay, where you can spot Dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
A trip to St. Augustine would be incomplete without visiting one of the most amazing zoological parks in Florida.
Located on Anastasia island the park is home to thousands of infamous American alligators, as well as crocodiles, snakes, Komodo dragons, and turtles.
If you are a nature enthusiast and love alligators then you must visit this park as they offer visitors a chance to get close to alligators and also feed them. You can purchase food at the zoo, and then stand on a platform over the alligator pond and drop the food in.
The alligators will come right up to the platform and try to catch the food. It’s really cool to see up close.
Apart from the resident Florida alligators, the park is also home to a variety of bird species including pelicans, herons, and egrets.
So, if you are planning a trip to St. Augustine surely do not miss out on one of the most unique experiences of your life.
Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Most people might be acquainted with the expeditions of the famous Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon and the stories about the Fountain of Youth.
Ponce de Leon carried the first European expedition to Florida in 1513 which lead to the early European settlements in Florida. The park is dedicated to the life and history of his expeditions in Florida.
Today, the park houses an incredible collection of archaeological ruins including the remains of an ancient Indian village, pirate shipwrecks, and ruins of an old Spanish fort built around the late 16th century.
The park also features a museum that houses artifacts from Ponce de Leon’s early expeditions to Florida including the remains of Santa Maria, one of the ships that accompanied Ponce de Leon on his journey to Florida.
Anastasia State Park
If you thought St. Augustine was all about lively beaches, historical monuments, fine dining restaurants, and the arts scene, then you are in for a surprise when you visit the Anastasia State Park.
If you are tired and looking to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the lively beaches and city life, then Anastasia Park is the place to just sit back and enjoy the spectacular unspoiled beauty of the Atlantic.
The park features over 1600 acres of untouched white sand beaches, marshes, and dunes and provides a perfect setting to immerse yourself in nature.
The sand is white and soft and the water is crystal clear with calm waves making it a perfect place for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, and relaxing on the beach.
You can also rent a bike from a nearby rental shop and enjoy biking on the beach if you really don’t feel like leaving this mesmerizing place and want to enjoy more of it then there are 139 campsites in the park for travelers who’d like to stay overnight.
The Lightner Museum represents Henry Flagler’s legacy and his contribution to the growing tourism industry in Florida.
The museum is a result of Henry Flagler’s vision to create magnificent hotels that would attract a lot of tourism to Florida and put Florida one of the best tourist destinations in the world.
The museum located in downtown St. Augustine is now a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places.
The building was originally a hotel built in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style architecture on King Street and was known as Hotel Alcazar.
The architecture of the museum is a perfect blend of luxury and quirkiness
The beautiful architecture features swaying palm trees, a fish pond with a delightful bridge of stone and several other exhibits from the colonial era to Native American culture.