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Strolling Historic St Augustine:  a perfect family day

A town like St Augustine, Florida is great to explore with kids because there are so many sights and fun things to do around every corner.  We didn’t do half of what we could have, but we still did a ton.  Every town or city has its must-see sights.  In NYC you’ve got the Statue of Liberty, San Diego has the zoo.  St Augustine has…um, too many sights to count.  We’re going to share six of them with you and soon you too will want to be strolling through historic St Augustine too, and if you’re already planning a #LoveFL trip, you need to add Florida’s Historic Coast to the schedule.

Castillo de San Marcos

We’ve written a whole article just about it because it’s so cool, but as a recap:  the castillo (fort) was built in the 1600s and is in really great shape.  A good portion of it is wheelchair accessible and all of it is fun for kids.  The fort is directly on the water, so the views are incredible, and then across the street is the Spanish Colonial Quarter.  This is a great place to start your day in historic St Augustine.  Allot 1.5 hours for the Castillo de San Marcos.  

Cost:  $0 w/ National Parks Pass or check NPS site.

Pirate and Treasure Museum

We’ll tell you upfront, we need to go back to it when the kids are older.  We entered and our oldest (four years old) was a little…cautious from the start.  Immediately, the flickering lights, scary pirate pictures and weapons… and then the talking decapitated head, um, it was all too much.  We actually had to run out of the museum carrying screaming, terrified kids.  Yeah, it’s meant for older kids and adults.  What we did see looked pretty cool, but we can’t say for sure.  If you’ve been, let us know!  We’d love to hear about somebody else’s experience.  

Cost:  $13 for adults and $8 for kids, but check site to confirm.

Colonial Spanish Quarter

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we’re suckers for history, and the Quarter is great for experiencing it.  Particularly for seeing living history.  If you’re going through the actual Colonial Quarter Museum, it’s perfect for learning and having weird fun.  When we say weird fun, what we mean is that it’s really entertaining to see town-life of days gone by happening before you.  We got to see how a ship was built, experience a working blacksmith shop and learn about loading and firing muskets.  It was pretty cool.  

Beyond the actual museum area is the live, functioning town.  It’s loaded with shops, museums, wine tasting and galleries.  There is oodles of cool architecture to just stroll through and many wonderful benches and courtyards to just it and people watch from.  Allot at least 1 hour for the Museum and another hour at least for wandering and relaxing.

Cost:  $13 for adults and $7 for kids, but check site to confirm.

Taberna Del Caballo

We ate lunch here and loved it.  We’ve got a place in Seattle that makes really incredible Cubano sandwiches, so being much closer to Cuba when in Florida, we had to see how different they’d be.  It turns out that the sandwiches we get in Seattle are pretty authentic.  Really great pork, just the right amount of cheese and a few pickles:  exactly what we hoped it would be.  And the sangria was really good too; a little too easy to drink…but then it’s open-air dining in Florida.  There was also a kids menu, but it wasn’t as exciting as we hoped.  

Cost:  $12 – $15 per person.  Worth it:  yes, indeed.

St Augustine Alligator Farm

gain, so cool, we had to write about just it.  Without giving away the farm (ha ha ha) you get to see and learn about so many different types of crocs and gators…and birds and turtles and lemurs and so much more.  The historic St Augustine Alligator Farm is really fun and VERY different from your standard zoo experience.  It’s been such since 1893!  The best part is the boardwalk to creep out even the bravest…  You’ll just have to see.  Oh, and they serve beer.  

We’re cautious about taking the kids to zoos and aquariums, as we’ve learned that far too many of them are not serving a purpose beyond human entertainment.  The St Augustine Alligator Farm is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and houses and researched several critically endangered and vulnerable species.  This includes reptiles, birds and mammals.  Allot 2 hours for the St Augustine Alligator Farm.   

Cost:  ticket prices vary depending on the season.  Check here.

Saint Augustine Lighthouse

We’ve climbed some lighthouses in our days and have explored some cool ones, but this one is exceptional.  First thing to know:  to go up the tower, you have to be at least 44 inches tall.  For us, this meant that only one person got to go up so the other adult could stay with the kids.  That’s life.  

The St Augustine Lighthouse has 219 steps to the top, so be ready to sweat in this oldie.  Once at the top, it’s an incredible view looking across the Atlantic Ocean, down the coast and across the flat swamp lands.  It’s the eighth tallest lighthouse in the USA and is 60 feet taller than the tallest one where we live in Washington State.  Really, the historic St Augustine Lighthouse is such a cool sight to see.  Also, there’s a great museum, keepers’ quarters and grounds to tour.  There’s even a playground for younger visitors.  Allot 1 hour+ to check out the site and climb the lighthouse.  

Cost:  $13 for adults and $11 for kids 12 and under AND 44 inches or taller.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

This is a wonderful way to end the day.  Fort Matanzas is about 30 minutes south of the city and is easy to get to if you’re already visiting either the lighthouse or the Alligator Farm, and it’s a great final stop on the historic St Augustine tour.  

Once you’re there, there’s a nature trail taking you through the shallow coastal forest and then a small passenger ferry out to Fort Matanzas (it’s on an island).  The boat ride is pleasant, the view from the fort is beautiful and the history you learn is really fascinating.  Before you head out to Fort Matanzas, check to see when the first and last ferries are, as your visit is completely dependent on the boat.  Allot 1.5 hours+ to enjoy the fort and sights.  

Cost:  the whole experience is free, but you’re welcome to make a donation.

There are many more things to experience of course.  Historic St Augustine was our first reason to #LoveFL.  We didn’t visit the oldest jail, do any ghost tours or drink from the Fountain of Youth… but next time, we for sure will!  St Augustine is easily worth several days to explore and do everything.  And you cannot forget to work beach time into the mix!  

Even though we’ve already wandered the streets and learned so much about Florida’s history, we’ll be returning to St Augustine next time we’re in Florida.; it’s that cool of a place and perfect for a family vacation.  Historic St Augustine should be on the travel plan for anybody visiting the southern USA… and especially for anybody visiting Florida for the first time.

And if you’d like to pin this for when you’re planning your Florida’s Historic Coast trip…

Strolling through historic St Augustine, Florida - from the Spanish fort to the Spanish Quarter, Alligator Farm to the Lighthouse - an ideal family destination

 

11 Comments

  • Renne

    Your kids are so cute! I never thought about visiting St. Augustine, but now I will consider it. Thanks for sharing.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:31 am
  • Laura

    Wow, there really is a ton of stuff to do there! It’s almost like a huge playground. How fun! We really haven’t explored much of Florida. St. Augustine sounds fun though.

    January 6, 2016 at 11:30 am
  • Menorca

    Lovely!Thanks for the insight:) Definitely want to visit Florida..whenever that will be!

    January 7, 2016 at 7:57 am
  • Marianne @ Mum on the Move

    Wow this looks like great fun family time! I particularly like the look of the Alligator Farm (and not just because it serves beer, lol)

    January 7, 2016 at 10:32 pm
  • Al

    Was looking for restaurant ideas as we’ll be in St. Augustine in a week. And now we’ve found one, thanks guys!

    February 4, 2016 at 9:28 am
  • Renne Simpson

    I live in the south and I feel like I haven’t explored enough of it. You always seem to give really good ideas! And I love Cuban food…anytime I have a layover in Florida, I always stop and get Cuban food lol. Also, beautiful photo of the Alligator farm. It looks very Florida-esque.

    February 11, 2016 at 3:55 pm
  • mark

    I love the fort i love anything old that resembles a castle, fort anything like this is well worth a visit, the pirate museum very cool

    February 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm
  • Voyager

    Wonderful quality time spent with family, I must say, Historical places are always so fascinating and all of them have incredible stories to tell, if one just listens 🙂

    February 11, 2016 at 11:21 pm
  • Marta

    This place looks so cool! And now I totally want a cubano sandwich – I’ve been to Cuba and never had one, is that even possible? Shame about the terrifies kids in the pirates museum: mine would have probably reacted the same way, especially my littlest one who does not do well with pretty much anything not furry and cute!

    February 12, 2016 at 4:03 am
  • Gearoid McSweeney

    This looks like the perfect place for families. Plenty to keep everyone entertained.

    February 12, 2016 at 1:01 pm
  • Ami

    Pirate and Treasure museum seems interesting…though I can understand the bawling kids.

    February 13, 2016 at 4:55 am

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