By enjoyFloridaBeaches.com Staff January 8, 2017
St. Augustine, Florida is generally considered to be the oldest city in the U.S., and features beautiful Atlantic Coast beaches in a unique historic setting.
As the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the United States, St. Augustine’s historic district is an attraction full of history, shops, and romantic getaways. Together with being one of Florida’s top beach destinations, St. Augustine is not only a great place to vacation, it’s one of the best places to live.
St. Augustine’s beautiful beaches offer a variety of amenities and experiences that include horseback riding, sunbathing, shelling, beachcombing, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, diving, volleyball, eco-adventures, and much more.
St. Augustine Beach is on Anastasia Island. The St. Johns County Ocean Pier is considered the main attraction on the beach, and includes a shop to supply the beach and fishing gear you need. The pier includes a 4-acre beachfront park that hosts numerous events throughout the year. Amenities include beach volleyball courts, a playground, a splash park, picnic tables, and a covered pavilion you can rent.
Crescent Beach is a beautiful stretch of sugary sand on the Atlantic Coast, south of St. Augustine. Popular activities on the beach include water sports, such as surfing, swimming, boogie boarding, and boating. Other activities include biking on the hard-packed sand, beachcombing, and volleyball.
Vilano Beach is often considered to be the main beach in St. Augustine, featuring a town center, fishing pier, waterfront restaurants, pavilion, boardwalk, and shops.
Anastasia State Park boasts 1,600 acres with 4 miles of pristine beach and is an awesome location for eco-adventures. Popular beach activities include swimming, surfing, shelling, hiking, bicycling, boating, paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, and canoeing. Park amenities include an amphitheater, concessions, picnic pavilions, and a playground.
Attractions & Things To Do
Besides beautiful beaches, St. Augustine has some of the most interesting attractions in the world, and hundreds of things to do. So here are just a few of the more noteworthy attractions you’ll want to consider while in St. Augustine.
Castillo de San Marcos is perhaps the most popular attraction in St. Augustine, as the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. Today it is a National Park, and stands as one of our country’s National Landmarks. While visiting the fort, explore the numerous rooms that once housed soldiers and prisoners, the interior courtyard and gun deck, and enjoy daily programs and ranger-led tours.
The St. Augustine Wild Reserve provides visitors the opportunity to see wild animals up close. The reserve rescues unwanted exotic animals and gives them a home, as an alternative to euthanasia. Visitors tour the 7-acre facility with a wildlife professional and have the opportunity to see exotic animals that include tigers, lions, wolves, exotic squirrels, foxes, white-tailed deer, and more.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is an active lighthouse located at the north end of Anastasia Island. The lighthouse stands 165 feet and serves as a scenic and educational museum. There are guided tours, traditional boatbuilding demonstrations, and specialty tours that include the Lost Ships Archaeology Tour, Sunset/Moonrise Tour, Dark of the Moon Tour, and Exclusive Lens Room Tour. There is also a gift shop with seasonal gifts, souvenirs, apparel, prints, replicas, and toys.
Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a 15-acre, pet-friendly park marking the traditional site where Ponce de Leon landed in 1513, and the original site of the Nation's oldest city. This site is where Colonial America started 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Today when touring the park, visitors enjoy living history reenactments designed to entertain and educate visitors, in addition to the Timucuan Village, the reconstructed First Mission of Nombre de Dios, re-created Spanish and Timucuan buildings, a 600-foot Founders Riverwalk, and numerous events throughout the year.
Besides historical and cultural attractions, St Augustine is also famous for its ghost and vampire tours. Several tour companies offer ghost and vampire tours in the city, including Dion Moore’s Secrets Of St. Augustine Ghost Tours, the Sheriff’s Ghost Walk Tours, and Ancient City Tours. Unlike other tour companies, Segs by the Sea uniquely features a paranormal tour while riding a Segway, in addition to walking paranormal tours.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park functions as a modern zoo serving the public and scientific community, featuring educational shows and exhibits, while emphasizing research and worldwide conservation efforts. While visiting the zoo, you can see every living species of crocodilian, in addition to a wide range of other animals, as you are entertained with exciting wildlife shows.
While in St. Augustine you can also enjoy various water sports and boat tours. Boat tours and charters include cruising aboard a sailboat, taking historic cruises, enjoying adventurous airboat tours, and going on dolphin and whale watching excursions.
For fishermen, local stores have the fishing supplies and bait you’ll need. Charters for both offshore and inland fishing are available, and the St. Johns County Ocean Pier is an excellent place to fish.
Some of the other popular water sports you can enjoy while in St. Augustine include surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and flyboarding.
Shops, boutiques, malls, and shopping outlets are plentiful in St. Augustine. You’ll find large chain stores, in addition to several specialty shops, such as Whetstone Chocolates, High Tide Gallery, and Spice & Tea Exchange.
The Old City Farmers Market offers a fun shopping experience while featuring fresh produce, seafood, baked goods, hand-crafted items, and plants directly from the producers. With live entertainment for the entire family and organic produce from local farmers, the market is the perfect place for a family outing.
Whether you are interested in a resort vacation with upscale amenities, or a very nice budget-conscious hotel, St. Augustine has accommodations to meet your needs.
For luxury travelers, the Casa Monica Resort & Spa, and the Autograph Collection by Marriott, offer old-fashioned elegance with high-end contemporary comfort at the center of historic St. Augustine.
And for luxury travelers seeking a water view, the Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront is located across the Matanzas Bay within the heart of the historic downtown district and features 19 colorful buildings inspired by the Second Spanish Colonial period.
Travelers wanting a laid-back, relaxing, and romantic getaway will love the award-winning Bayfront Marin House Inn. The Inn is located directly across from the Matanzas Bay, just blocks from Castillo de San Marco, in the heart of the historic district, and boasts outstanding views of the ancient city and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Other outstanding options for accommodations in St. Augustine include Holiday Inn Express and La Fiesta Ocean Inn & Suites.
In addition to hotels, there are also more than 600 vacation rentals from which to choose featuring a host of amenities, that include beachfront locations and gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean.
With more than 400 eateries in St. Augustine, there are a myriad of restaurants from which to choose.
As with most coastal cities, great seafood is popular in St. Augustine. Some of the best restaurants featuring seafood include Casa Benedetto's Ristorante that also features Italian dishes, Sunset Grille, O'Steen's Restaurant, Mango Mango's Caribbean Grill & Bar, and Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille.
Then when you are craving an outstanding steak, with or without seafood, BlackFly restaurant is a great choice. The restaurant also hosts events, such as live entertainment and special promotions. And if you need to host a private party, rehearsal dinner, or corporate event, BlackFly’s private room may offer the perfect solution.
Some more of the outstanding restaurant options include Uptown Scratch Kitchen, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Collage Restaurant, Old City House Inn and Restaurant, and La Cocina International Restaurant.
St Augustine’s rich history in an Atlantic Coastal setting is the perfect backdrop for a wedding or corporate event.
For a resort style wedding, Bayfront Marin House Historic Inn, Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, and Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront are four excellent choices.
If you would like your special day in a natural, outdoor setting, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, and Anastasia State Park are two impressive locations to exchange vows in plush surroundings and under beautiful skies.
And if you dream of a wedding on a sandy Florida beach, the Holiday Isle Oceanfront Resort is an excellent choice.
Everything you need for the wedding of your dreams is available in St. Augustine. Wedding planners, such as Sun and Sea Beach Weddings, are ready to coordinate your special event at one of the many available venues, along with caterers, florists, photographers, videographers, salons, spas, and officiants.