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The oldest masonry structure of its kind in the continental United States, Castillo de San Marcos was built by the Spanish in 1672. Constructed to guard the coastline against invasion, the historic fort was occupied by military forces for more than 250 years before being deactivated and taken over by the National Park System. Here’s a guide to what you’ll see and do while visiting this St. Augustine fort.
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.
Several days a week, visitors to the Castillo de San Marcos are treated to reenactments by costumed historians, cannon firings, weaponry demonstrations and other interactive activities.
Considered to be St. Augustine’s most historically significant structure, the Castillo de San Marcos has an intriguing past and you can discover it all as you tour through its ancient walls, rooms and hallways. Learn about when it came under fire and by whom and how it has withstood military attacks and harsh weather conditions.
Park Rangers offer a variety of talks throughout the day during which they share their knowledge of the culture and history of the park.
Shown every half hour on the hour, this twenty-five minute video showcases the history of the fort, as well as a variety of cannon and musket firing sequences.
Have a picnic, take some pictures; the beautiful green area on the property of the fort makes a great setting for a picnic with gorgeous views.
Things to Do and See Nearby
Just a few steps away from the Castillo de San Marcos, the Colonial Quarter offers visitors a chance to journey back in time to the 17th century. Originally called the Spanish Quarter, this quaint section of St. Augustine is home to a variety of unique shops, eateries, exhibits and interesting encounters. On its two acres, you’ll have the opportunity to watch a blacksmith forge steel as they did so many centuries ago and witness construction of a 55-foot Caravel Ship and a 17th century musket drill.
For a departure from the ordinary, step inside Ripley’s Odditorium. Over 800 bizarre, interactive and intriguing exhibits will entertain and amaze you. This attraction is the first of the Ripley’s Believe or Not locations and has items from Robert Ripley’s original collection on display. Located on San Marco Avenue, right next to Castillo de San Marcos.
A visit to the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum transports you back in time more than 300 years to Port Royal, Jamaica. This expansive museum is just across the street from Castillo de San Marcos and features a replicated pirate ship. Explore the ship’s deck, wonder through 48 interactive exhibits, see the largest and most authentic collection of pirate artifacts and much more.
A lovely and historic 11-block mall, St. George Street is a must do while in St. Augustine. Unique shops offer everything from souvenirs and clothing to collectibles and more. Dozens of restaurants line the sidewalk and serve up everything from Italian to Seafood and pretty much everything in between. You’ll see many of the city’s most ancient buildings here as well. Located minutes from Castillo de San Marcos.
One of St. Augustine’s most architecturally unique and historical buildings, the Oldest Wooden School house is a short walk from the fort and totally worth the visit. Made completely by hand, its red cedar and cypress, wooden pegs and unique design are nostalgic of an era gone by. Take a tour through the house and see copies of original books used by students as well as other ancient artifacts.
Another of the city’s oldest buildings, the Old Drug Store takes you back to the early 1700s. See what life was like before technology took over business operations. Displays include antique cash registers, bottles of homemade remedies, elixirs and tonics, and other ancient items.
Don’t miss the chance to have your picture taken with Michael Jordan or Brittany Spears! At Potter’s Wax Museum, there are more than 190 wax figures that bear an amazing resemblance to the original. Sports stars, celebrities, political figures and much more are on display.
The freshest food in the city, this hidden gem serves light bites, coffee & bakery delicacies. Open 7 days a week, but the hours vary depending on when the food runs out. We suggest making a pit stop here first, for a coffee and an empanada to fuel your day of exploration at the fort!
Homemade sauces, pizza dough and more are just a taste of what you can expect at this delightful Italian restaurant less than a mile from the fort. Whether you’re craving pizza, pasta, subs, calzones or traditional Italian entrees, you’ll find Al’s has something for everyone.
Just a short walk from the fort on St. George Street, Cruiser’s grills up a host of delicious eats for you to indulge in. Burgers, chicken, salads and more are served in a laid back Florida atmosphere.
The Tasting Room For an elegant dining experience, head over to the Tasting Room, a two-minute walk from the fort. Here your taste buds will be delighted with a variety of small and large plates that include everything from fresh seafood to chicken.
Columbia Restaurant Discover the Spanish influence on the city as you savor such dishes as paella, gazpacho, tapas and more. Sip a homemade sangria or mojito, fine wine or beer as you enjoy fresh seafood, steaks and poultry entrees, Cuban sandwiches and much more.