10 Things to Do in St. Augustine, Florida in a Day

What is St. Augustine Most Famous For?

    History looms heavily in St. Augustine, purportedly the oldest city in the entire United States. The area’s rich colonial history makes it a must-see for Spanish architecture buffs. The city center is pleasantly walkable with highlights that include Plaza de la Constitucion and the Castillo de San Marcos fort. 

    Meanwhile, beach lovers are equally well taken care of with wide, dune-fringed stretches of white sand that lead into the Atlantic Ocean – the mild subtropical climate means there’s never a bad time to visit.

    1

    Start the day at Plaza de la Constitucion

    Get a glimpse of history

    There’s arguably no better place to begin a tour of St. Augustine than the historical square of Plaza de la Constitucion. Sitting on this same green spot since the Spanish colonial era in 1573, the park is framed by other iconic attractions such as the city’s cathedral, Government House, and the Trinity Episcopal parish church. 

    All of these make it a great spot from which to get an appreciation of just how old St. Augustine really is. Expect seasonal concerts, markets, and other events taking place here.

    Location: 170 St George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA

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    photo by Jared (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Must-See: Castillo de San Marcos

    St. Augustine’s original stone defenses

    Castillo de San Marcos, the United States’ oldest stone fort – and North America’s only remaining 17th-century example – was used by the Spanish to guard their first settlement at St. Augustine. 

    This nationally recognized monument sits alongside the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in Matanzas Bay. There are reconstructions of walls that once defended St. Augustine, and plenty of insight into its history – but the expansive green grounds, and city and sea views, also make this a welcome escape for a breather.

    Location: 1 S Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA

    Open: +1 904-829-6506

    Phone: Daily from 8.45am to 5.15pm

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    3

    Explore the nature reserves of Anastasia State Park

    A natural wildlife habitat with a dose of history

    A 15-minute drive from St. Augustine proper, Anastasia State Park offers something different by way of a beautifully preserved, wildlife-rich coastal reserve. 

    At the same time, the likes of heritage sand dunes – and Spanish-era quarries used to extract the coquina limestone that enabled the construction of St. Augustine and its famous fort – mean that this state park has enough to compete with the city itself in the history stakes. Hiking, kayaking and swimming are all possible, and there’s a large camp ground, too.

    Location: 300 Anastasia Park Rd, St. Augustine, FL 32080, USA

    Open: Daily from 8am to sundown

    Phone: +1 904-461-2033

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    photo by Ebyabe (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

    4

    Swim in the Atlantic off St. Augustine Beach

    Then feast on the city’s plentiful seafood

    It wouldn’t be Florida without a trip to the beach, and St. Augustine doesn’t disappoint. Beside the North Atlantic, the barren dunes and gorgeous white sand of St. Augustine Beach – a city in its own right – are less than a 15-minute drive from downtown St. Augustine. 

    Take a refreshing dip in the water, top up your tan on the beach, and then head to the Salt Life Food Shack for no-fuss dishes that let the locally sourced seafood do the talking.

    Location: A1A Beach Blvd, St. Augustine Beach, FL 32080, USA

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    5

    Must-See: Oldest Wooden School House

    Take a glimpse at this hand-constructed educational relic

    St. Augustine seemingly has an ‘America’s oldest ever’ structure of every possible type. Plaza de la Constitucion is the United States’ oldest public space, Castillo de San Marcos is its oldest stone fort – and this is, as the name suggests, the oldest wooden school house you’ll find on these fair shores. 

    It’s even more remarkable for having been entirely hand-built out of painstakingly nailed-together red cypress and cedarwood. Wander through the downstairs classroom that offers a glimpse of yesteryear’s students, and the schoolmaster’s living quarters overhead.

    Location: 14 St George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA

    Open: Daily from 9am to 6pm (Fridays and Saturdays until 8pm)

    Phone: +1 888-653-7245

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    6

    Zipper-line over St. Augustine Alligator Farm

    An adrenaline-fueled ride over every type of croc on earth

    Alligators in Florida might not turn your head, but St. Augustine Alligator Farm – now over a century old – is something else. Not only is it the only farm in the world housing all 23 species of crocodilian reptiles (St. Augustine is keen on boasting these kind of records), but you can actually zipline over them. 

    That’s right – thrill-seekers can get an adrenaline rush, and one hell of a view, by taking the Crocodile Crossing while gators and crocs go about their business down below.

    Location: 999 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32080, USA

    Open: Daily from 9am to 5pm

    Phone: +1 904-824-3337

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    photo by C Watts (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Must-See: Colonial Quarter

    St. Augustine as it was for Spanish-era residents

    Since the Spanish founded St. Augustine in 1565, it’s passed through British hands, back to Spain’s control, and finally to the US in 1819. The Colonial Quarter serves as a living museum depicting the life of inhabitants of the first period of Spanish control in the 1740s. 

    There are historical buildings to explore, a 35-foot replica Spanish watchtower from which to take in views of the main St. George Street thoroughfare, and boutiques selling keepsakes that speak of times gone by.

    Location: 43 St George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA

    Open: Daily from 10am to 5pm

    Phone: +1 888-991-0933

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    Dinner at Catch 27

    The day’s fish haul with on-trend cocktails

    It’s almost a sin to come to this part of the world and not indulge in its bounty of seafood. Among numerous reputed local restaurants, Catch 27 is a three-minute stroll from the heart of the city’s colonial quarter. 

    This trendy, modern spot puts the day’s catch at the heart of the action, so you’ll be eating whatever that’s found its way onto the boats. Alongside creative serves of fish, prawns and clams, there are craft beers, wines, and innovative cocktails.

    Location: 40 Charlotte St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA

    Open: Daily from 11.30am to 9pm (Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm)

    Phone: +1 904-217-3542

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    See a show at St. Augustine Amphitheater

    Cultural performances in an evocative open-air venue

    When darkness falls, what better way to carry on soaking up St. Augustine’s distinctive vibe than to head outside and take in a performance at the city’s al fresco amphitheater? 

    The 4,000-seater venue is located a 10-minute drive out of the city center, and puts on regular circus performances, concerts, and more. Evening entertainment aside, the St. Augustine Amphitheater is a community hub, playing host to weekend farmers’ markets.

    Location: 1340C A1A S, St. Augustine, FL 32080, USA

    Phone: +1 904-209-0367

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    photo by Ebyabe (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

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    End the day at the Ancient City Brewing Taproom

    Locally brewed ales and a lively pub vibe

    Mingle with St. Augustine’s locals and discover the city’s other culinary passion besides seafood – its love of locally produced craft beer – at the Ancient City Brewing taproom. 

    For the widest selection of over 20 beers on tap you’ll want to head to the original brewhouse that’s a 15-minute drive outside of the city center. The smaller-scale taproom right in the heart of downtown St. Augustine still has 10 varieties on rotation. There’s a friendly, lively atmosphere that goes with the diverse range of specialty ales.

    Location: 18 Cathedral Pl, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA

    Open: Daily from 11am to 10pm (Thursdays until 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays until midnight)

    Phone: +1 904-429-9654

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    Chris Wotton | Contributing Writer

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