Few cities in America provide such a rich historical and cultural travel experience like that of St. Augustine. With today’s new normal, it’s important to find social distancing approved activities around the city to explore. Luckily, St. Augustine has plenty of fun social distancing approved options that are open to enjoy. Whether it be visiting a historical sight or simply breezing through the streets like a local, there’s a ton of social distancing approved things worth discovering. Here are just a few of the exciting options around St. Augustine that are open right now.
Perhaps it’s the centuries-old streets lined with quaint buildings, the magnificent beaches and dazzling sunsets, the fine dining or the rich history that dates back 500 years that makes St. Augustine the ideal destination for romance. Or perhaps it’s all of these things and more, for the ancient city holds a special allure for couples seeking a secluded romantic retreat. Read on for the top ways to plan a romantic weekend in St. Augustine.
Houses of worship have played a significant role in St. Augustine’s history. Established by various denominations, these sanctuaries proclaim the faith of settlers who came to Florida in the hope of a better life.
A pedestrian-only thoroughfare, bustling St. George Street is the epicenter of downtown St. Augustine. Chock full of shops, restaurants, art galleries and attractions, this historic street is a must for any visitor to the Nation’s Oldest City.
Hello, I’m Dave Chatterton, General Manager of Old Town Trolley of St. Augustine. With nearly 500 years of history, including rule by Spain, Britain, and the U.S., St. Augustine is full of sights and attractions that entertain and educate. For over 30 years, Old Town Trolley Tours has provided St. Augustine sightseeing tours highlighting the best of the city. Hop aboard one of our trolleys and you’ll experience Transportainment, a delightful combination of transportation and entertainment.
Encompassing 15 acres of lush Old Florida landscape, The Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park in St. Augustine is the perfect way to spend a day in the Nation’s Oldest City. It’s also considered the state’s oldest attraction and it commemorates the Florida landing of Ponce de Leon in 1513 and his quest for the legendary Fountain of Youth. Overlooking the Matanzas River and St. Augustine Inlet, the park offers visitors the chance to relive the days of the conquistadors and discover many colorful facts about Ponce de Leon’s arrival to Florida. It also hosts a blend of stately oaks, blue cedars, sweet-smelling magnolias and dozens of beautiful peacocks along with other wildlife.
Peaceful and serene, the Mission of Nombre de Dios is a place where everyone can feel at home. Shrines and statues are surrounded by lush greenery and trees and welcome visitors from every corner of the earth. It is here that the Great Cross, which rises 208 feet, was erected in 1965 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first parish mass.
The oldest masonry structure of its kind in the continental United States, Castillo de San Marcos was built and constructed to guard the coastline against invasion. Take some time to wander around this massive fort that overlooks the sea on the St. Augustine coast. Walk through the numerous rooms that were once home to war soldiers and prisoners. Out on the large interior courtyard, you’ll see the gun deck and enjoy magnificent views of the city.
What better place to study Liberal Arts than inside an oasis of architectural beauty? Flagler College, situated on the grounds of the original Ponce de Leon Hotel, offers students 29 majors and four-year degrees in several dozen areas of study. Established in 1968, Flagler College is a private, liberal arts institution of higher education. The school has been ranked by US News and World Report as well as The Princeton Review as one of the best regional colleges in the southern United States. The college is named for industrialist and railroad magnate Henry Morrison Flagler who built it in 1888 as a hotel. It is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture and was one of the most exclusive resorts of its day.
Elegance and history, grace and sophistication all come together in the glorious rooms, walkways and exhibits at the Lightner Museum. Originally The Hotel Alcazar, the building was built by railroad tycoon and hotel developer Henry Flagler and is a magnificent example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Browse through costumes, furnishings, mechanical musical instruments and collections that bring back the grand Gilded Age, a marvelous period in the 19th century. See beautiful works of cut glass, Victorian art glass and the celebrated work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tour the museum and take a historical journey that will not soon be forgotten.
When visiting Villa Zorayda, make sure to leave yourself a good hour to explore this architectural and cultural gem. It’s been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and houses one of the most unique collections of antiquities in America. Such rarities on display include the “Sacred Cat Rug,” which is over 2,400 years old and said to be made from the hairs of ancient cats that roamed the Nile River. You can also see hand-carved tropical hardwood furniture and impressive interior details like the flooring and windows.
Constructed by Henry Flagler, the Grace United Methodist Church is a lovely site and a place of special interest in the Old City. Its Spanish style, terracotta spire and moldings are a continuing reminder of the impact of Spain on the entire city. Located at 8 Carrera Street, the Church was built in the late 1800’s, and was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in the 1970’s. Services are held here throughout the week and visitors are welcome.
Built in 1763, the Fernando-Lambias House is one of the many original coquina structures in the city. Its charming setting and pretty design make it a special place for weddings and other events. Visitors can enjoy its lovely exterior and during the third week of every month are able to tour the interior.
A St. Augustine attraction for history enthusiasts, curious souls and those who enjoy marvelous architecture, The Oldest House Museum Complex offers many things for many people. Owned and operated by the St. Augustine Historical Society, the complex includes Florida’s Oldest House, two museums, a changing exhibition gallery, an ornamental garden, and a museum store.
An incredible adventure for kids and adults of all ages, the Pirate & Treasure Museum offers visitors a chance to journey back to the era of the Golden Age of Piracy. This unique museum showcases one of the largest collections of rare pirate artifacts in the world including Captain Thomas Tew’s 17th Century Treasure Chest and the Journal of Captain Kidd’s Final Voyage in 1699.
The Scenic Cruise company was founded more than a century ago when Frank Usina and his wife settled in North Beach, which at the time was only accessible by boat. In the early days, Frank would ferry guests of the Ponce de Leon Hotel and Alcazar Hotel back and forth from St. Augustine to North Beach, showing them the beautiful sites along the way and treating them to oysters, Minorcan cuisine, music and dancing.
Walk in amazement and wonder as you see more than 800 exhibits at Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. Everything from the weird and unusual to the exotic is on display and ready to excite and entertain people of all ages. The museum is the original Ripley’s Believe it or Not, opening in 1950 just a few months after Robert Ripley’s death. Here, people can explore and interact, witness incredible illusions and see for themselves what Ripley collected from his travels around the world—many too outlandish to believe.
Visually exquisite, the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church was built by Henry Flagler in 1889. It is one of his most significant projects, because it was constructed as a memorial to Flagler’s only daughter, Jenny. The mausoleum adjacent to the church is where Flagler, his daughter, granddaughter and first wife are buried.
Like so many other sites in St. Augustine, the Lighthouse is a cherished landmark from another era. It’s significant for two main reasons—first because of its role as a vital watchtower that led ships safely into the St. Augustine port for more than a hundred years and second because of its longstanding survival as an architectural icon to the city. The original lighthouse was closed in 1874 on the same day that the new one was completed.
Visit the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine to be amazed, intrigued and thoroughly entertained. Do things like pet an alligator, watch a feeding and see wild species like Albino Alligators, herons, spoonbills and woodstorks. You’ll also get a gander at toucans, parrots, Australian emus and seven different types of monkeys. Gaze in amazement at Maximo, a 36-year-old, 15 foot, 1,250 pound Crocodile. If his massive size and weight don’t astound you, the story of his life, so far, probably will. He was captured as an egg in Australia and was donated to the United States.
Made completely by hand, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is an architectural and historical icon in St. Augustine. Dating back to the early 18th century, a visit to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is an inspiring experience.
The Spanish Quarter, also known as the Colonial Quarter, captures the essence of St. Augustine’s rich heritage. A visit here takes you back more than 300 years and offers you a chance to engage in a variety of interesting activities and see numerous points of interest. There is much to do and see in and around this historic area.
The Pirate Ship Black Raven is a one-of-a-kind live pirate show full of music, thrills and pure entertainment! Participate in our adventure, sing along with our crew, and find your inner pirate while you see the beautiful sights of the Matanzas River.
The Schooner Freedom gives its guests an opportunity to experience a sail reminiscent of an authentic 19th century Blockade Runner. St. Augustine’s own tall ship, the Freedom was constructed in 1982 and is a double masted 72’ replica of the topsail ships of that time. Choose a fun-filled day sail or relaxing evening cruise—your two hours on board this spectacular vessel will include music, sightseeing and perhaps even manatees, dolphins and other friendly wildlife.
The Spanish Military Hospital Museum offers visitors a look into how healthcare operated during the Spanish Colonial Period. The building that the museum is housed in is a reconstruction of a Military Hospital that was on the same site in the late 1700s. As you tour the museum, you’ll be given an inside look into how patients were treated here. From the ward beds to the surgeon’s tools and even the mourning room where patient’s last rites were given by Priests, the museum is an interesting and unique spot to see.
A visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is an inspirational experience for people of all faiths. The Church was founded in 1565 and was rebuilt many times. Through the age of exploration, pirates and the Flagler years, the church has been a vital part of the religious community in the city. The Church is located on Cathedral Street in the heart of downtown St. Augustine and is a designated National Historical Landmark. Today, its amazing past and exquisite Spanish architecture both inside and out awe visitors from around the world.
The Government House has long been the home to many administrative and political offices. Throughout its many centuries of existence (the earliest records date back to the late 16th century), it has been a residence for Governors, a courthouse, a post office, government offices and more. Following the plans of the royal decree from Spain, it along with other major buildings in town, faces the central plaza. Visitors of all ages benefit from the many exhibits and learning activities available in the museum.
As with many of the significant sites in our nation’s oldest city, the Tolomato Cemetery offers visitors a glimpse into the diverse history of the people who lived and died in St. Augustine. It’s one of Florida’s oldest cemeteries, and is known to be the final resting place of many confederate soldiers. Before 1763, the Cemetery was the site of the Christian Indian Village of Tolomato.
Henry and Esther Whetstone are Florida natives and lifelong residents of northeast Florida. After they married, they longed to own and operate their own business. Operating from their kitchen each night, Henry and Esther first opened their small ice cream store on St. George Street in the historic business district of St. Augustine in 1966. They entered the chocolate market when they created a home-made fudge recipe, again in the family’s small kitchen.
Potter’s Wax Museum is located on Orange Avenue in historic St. Augustine and offers visitors a unique opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous people up close. The figures are known for their remarkable likeness to the characters they represent due to the process that’s used to create them. The eyes are handmade in Germany and the hands are sculpted in Belgium.
According to historians, St. Augustine is believed to be the birthplace of American wine dating back to 1562. And so it only makes sense that one of the country’s premier wineries, San Sebastian Winery, would call the Nation’s Oldest City home.
For a contrast to today’s high-tech pharmacies, stop in at the Oldest Drug Store located in Historic downtown. You won’t see any computers – instead, antique cash registers, wood floors and bottles of remedies, elixirs and tonics are a charming representation of an era gone by. Be sure to visit the gift shop where you can pick up collectibles, jewelry and seasonal items.