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Best Parks To Explore in St. Augustine

Anastasia State Park

St. Augustine, with its historical charm and scenic beauty, is not just known for its architectural marvels but also for the lush, verdant parks it houses. Each one of the parks in St. Augustine, unique in its offerings, provides visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the city’s natural splendor. Exploring these St. Augustine treasures is not only a feast for the eyes but also an opportunity to engage in various recreational activities. Including a visit to these parks in your trip plan is a must-do, offering you a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure, as well as a chance to connect with nature in the heart of this timeless city. Here are some of the best parks in St. Augustine that you should consider exploring:

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Parks in the Old City

Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park

A visit to St. Augustine is incomplete without stepping foot in the Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park. Named in honor of a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s, this St. Augustine park serves as a living testament to Dr. Hayling’s enduring legacy. His groundbreaking efforts in the cause of civil rights in St. Augustine have led to numerous accolades, such as the Distinguished Alumni Award from Florida A&M University, the Nathan W. Collier Meritorious Service Award from Florida Memorial University, and the honor of being the namesake of the Dr. Robert B. Hayling Award of Valor. The park not only offers a serene and peaceful environment but also inspires visitors with its historical significance. Exploring this park in St. Augustine offers an invaluable opportunity to connect with a crucial part of the city’s history.

Things To Do at Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park

The park provides picnic tables strategically placed facing the San Sebastian River, offering visitors a picturesque setting to relax and enjoy a meal amid nature. These spots serve as an idyllic refuge where you can retreat with a book, engage in a peaceful meditation session, or simply soak in the surrounding beauty.

For fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers, this park in St. Augustine offers jogging and walking trails that not only serve as a platform for physical exercise but also an opportunity to embrace the tranquil ambiance. These well-maintained paths meander through the park, adding to its charm and providing ample space for visitors to jog or walk, making it one of the must-visit parks in St. Augustine.

One of the unique and intriguing features of the park is the “Freedom Chimes.” Visitors are invited to use mallets on these chimes, creating a resonating melody that serves as a harmonious soundtrack to your park visit. This interactive installation adds a distinctive touch to the park visit, providing a unique activity that visitors of all ages can enjoy.

Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park is also a haven for bird watchers, as nine species of sparrows have been documented at this location. These include the Nelson’s, seaside, salt marsh, and Savannah sparrows. Interspersed among the park’s lush greenery, these birds add a vibrant touch to the park’s scenery. Bird watchers can spend hours observing these species, each unique and fascinating in its own right.

In essence, Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park is not just a place to visit, it’s an experience to cherish. From its scenic picnic spots and walking trails to the unique Freedom Chimes and diverse bird life, there’s something for everyone, making it an integral part of any St. Augustine visit.

Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park was established by Walter B. Fraser, a Georgia resident who bought the land in 1927 and soon thereafter moved to St. Augustine. An active figure in the local political scene, Fraser’s vision brought this park to life, transforming it into one of the most significant parks in St. Augustine. The park captures the intrigue of history lovers and explorers alike, as it is believed to be the probable landing site of the famous Spanish explorer Ponce de León in 1513.

Things To Do at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Fountain of Youth Archaeological ParkThe parks in St. Augustine, particularly the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, present numerous attractions blending historical fascination with interactive activities. With a diverse range of exhibits and shows, this park offers a distinct combination of education and entertainment suitable for visitors of all ages.

The Discovery Globe is a two-story exhibit that maps out the routes of early explorers. As you navigate this globe, you get a sense of the scale and the challenges these explorers faced on their daring voyages. This interactive exhibit is both informative and visually captivating, presenting an overview of exploration history in a uniquely engaging way.

Another highlight of the park is the planetarium, where visitors can learn about the celestial navigation methods used by early explorers. The planetarium hosts shows that delve into the complexities of ancient astronomy, shedding light on how explorers used the stars to guide their journeys.

The Timucua Indian exhibit offers a glimpse into the life of the Timucua Indians, the original inhabitants of the region. This exhibit includes a recreation of a Timucuan village, providing a tangible experience of their daily life and culture in a pre-colonial era.

This St. Augustine park also features Spanish cannons, an awe-inspiring display of military history. These cannons serve as a reminder of Spanish Florida’s strategic importance and the clashes between the European powers vying for control of the region.

The Native Christian Burial Ground Exhibit provides a respectful look at the history of early Christian converts among the local Native American population. This exhibit complements the reconstructed First Mission of Nombre de Dios, offering a broader picture of the interaction between Spanish colonizers and indigenous peoples.

Ron Parker Park

Ron Parker Park, named in honor of Deputy Marshall Ronald Parker, is a significant and inspiring park in St. Augustine. Deputy Marshall Ronald Parker was tragically shot and killed in the line of duty at the age of 27 after serving the St. Augustine Police Department. This St. Augustine park serves as a heartwarming tribute to his bravery and dedication to public service.

At the heart of this St. Augustine park, near the flagpole, stands a memorial dedicated to Deputy Marshall Ronald Parker. This poignant reminder of his sacrifice resonates with the values of duty and courage. Visitors are encouraged to pay their respects and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that Ronald Parker made for his community.

Whether you are interested in history, seeking a peaceful place for reflection, or looking for a fun-filled day out with the family, Ron Parker Park offers something for everyone.

Things To Do at Ron Parker Park

Ron Parker Park, a key player among the parks in St. Augustine, serves as a hub of activity with its array of recreational offerings catering to a diverse set of interests. The park’s tennis courts, set against the serene natural backdrop, stand as a popular attraction. These well-maintained and spacious courts extend an inviting space for engaging in a friendly match or practicing your serve.

The basketball courts are another highlight for this St. Augustine park, providing a place for both casual and competitive games. Equipped with sturdy hoops and well-marked lines, these courts are perfect for a quick pick-up game or a serious matchup.

For younger visitors, the park’s playgrounds offer a safe and enjoyable space for play. The playgrounds are thoughtfully designed with a variety of equipment, suitable for different age groups. From slides to swings to climbing frames, there is something to keep every child entertained. Ron Parker Park also features a dedicated Dog Park, a fenced-in area where your furry friends can run free.

Parks Near St. Augustine

Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park bird Anastasia State Park, a sprawling 1,600-acre (6.5 km2) expanse, is a remarkable natural gem nestled in Florida’s landscape. The park’s location is particularly unique, perched on a peninsula on Anastasia Island, separated from Downtown St. Augustine by the picturesque Matanzas Bay. This geographical positioning allows it to offer an immersive coastal experience, with the Atlantic Ocean shaping its eastern boundary.

Significantly, Anastasia State Park’s value extends beyond its natural appeal, connecting it to St. Augustine’s history, the oldest city in the nation. The park is home to a coquina quarry, a historic archaeological site. This is where coquina rock was mined extensively to build the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a symbol of the city. Visiting Anastasia State Park offers a unique opportunity to experience Florida’s natural beauty and historical depth.

Things To do at Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park provides a rich palette of natural wonders to explore while offering a host of fun and engaging activities. A key feature of this St. Augustine park is Bird Island, a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts. Home to a vibrant array of bird species, the island offers guests the chance to observe these creatures in their natural habitat.

Camping enthusiasts will appreciate the park’s campgrounds, which are nestled comfortably within lush greenery and equipped with modern amenities, offering an authentic yet comfortable outdoor experience. Fishing is another popular activity, as the park’s oceanfront location and lagoon provide abundant opportunities to cast a line.

The park’s beach, stretched over a 4-mile expanse, is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and running. With its golden sands and shimmering waters, it’s a stunning spot to relax or engage in fun beach activities. For water sports enthusiasts, the park offers excellent conditions for surfing and sailboarding, and the tranquil waters of the lagoon are perfect for swimming and kayaking. The park’s network of trails, winding through a landscape of dunes, marsh, and maritime forest, offers a great environment for hiking and exploring the park’s diverse habitats.

Fort Mose Historic State Park

Fort Mose Historic State Park, located just north of St. Augustine, is a site of profound historical significance. It was here, in 1738, that the Spanish governor of Florida chartered the settlement of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, more commonly known as Fort Mose. Notably, this was the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States, acting as a beacon of hope for those escaping slavery from the English colonies in the Carolinas.

The story of Fort Mose is a powerful testament to the quest for freedom, a narrative that adds depth and texture to our understanding of American history. It’s a story of courage and determination as the men and women of Fort Mose fought not just for their freedom but for the freedom of future generations. Given its national significance, Fort Mose was designated as a National Historic Landmark and has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Things To Do at Fort Mose Historic State Park

Fort Mose Historic State ParkThe park’s layout offers an immersive historical experience, highlighting the struggles and victories of the past. A major highlight is the Visitor Center and Museum, where exhibits bring the fort’s history to life through artifacts, interactive displays, and a short film. For history buffs, this center offers a captivating journey through time, revealing the fort’s strategic significance and the heroic stories of its inhabitants.

The park is also an oasis for nature lovers. The Observation and Birding Boardwalk allows visitors to experience the park’s diverse bird species. Here, one can spot the elegant great blue heron, the majestic bald eagle, and the beautiful white ibis, among others. This boardwalk winds through marshland, offering panoramic views and enhancing your bird-watching experience.

The picnic areas within the park offer an ideal spot for relaxation and reflection amid natural beauty. Underneath the cooling shade of the trees, families can enjoy a meal while taking in the views of the park. For those seeking an adventure on the water, the Kayak Launch Boardwalk is an excellent starting point. From here, visitors can explore the park’s waterways up close, offering a new perspective on its natural beauty.

Faver-Dykes State Park

Faver-Dykes State Park is situated on the outskirts of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. The park is conveniently located near the highway, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists. Faver-Dykes State Park is another hidden gem in the vicinity of St. Augustine. Covering roughly 6,000 acres, this park is renowned for its quiet coquina shell beaches and extensive pine forests, offering an atmospheric retreat from urban life.

The park’s geographical location along Pellicer Creek, a designated Florida State Canoe Trail, makes it a hot spot for water sports, with canoeing and fishing being particularly popular. The park’s diverse ecosystems support a broad spectrum of wildlife, making it a delight for nature enthusiasts with its rich biodiversity. Encompassing a sweeping landscape of diverse habitats, the park transitions seamlessly from wet to dry environments. The southern and eastern boundaries are defined by bodies of water, adding a unique aquatic element to the park’s terrain.

Things To Do at Faver-Dykes State Park

Faver-Dykes State Park, a notable St. Augustine park, is true to its reputation as a treasure trove of natural wonders and recreational activities. The park’s intricate network of water trails is a standout feature, offering visitors a unique opportunity to navigate the calm waters of Pellicer Creek via canoe or kayak. This trail is a floating window into the park’s aquatic ecosystem, letting you witness an array of birds and marine life up close.

For bird enthusiasts, Faver-Dykes State Park is indeed a paradise. During the spring and fall migrations, the park becomes a host to over a hundred bird species, making it a bustling hub for bird-watching. From melodious songbirds to elegant waterfowl, the spectacle of feathered creatures in their natural habitat is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Fishing is another highlight of the park. With its abundance of fish species, anglers, whether novices or veterans, will find the park’s water bodies an ideal setting for a rewarding fishing experience. The park’s serene atmosphere coupled with the rhythmic lapping of the creek against your boat offers an unforgettable fishing escapade.

The park’s well-maintained picnic areas provide a perfect setting for a relaxing outdoor meal. Moreover, Faver-Dykes State Park is also known for its boating and camping facilities. The park’s diverse waterways make it a favorite among boating enthusiasts, while its modern campsites, equipped with necessary amenities and surrounded by wilderness, provide an authentic camping experience.

Lastly, the park’s biodiversity makes it a haven for wildlife viewing. As you explore the park, you might chance upon various wildlife species that call this park home, adding an element of surprise and excitement to your visit.

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Located near the historic city of St. Augustine, Florida, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park invites visitors to immerse themselves in a tranquil and picturesque setting. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River, this expansive 425-acre park offers a serene escape into the heart of coastal splendor.

Steeped in history, the park’s origins trace back to 1936 when the esteemed attorney and industrialist, Mr. Owen D. Young, presented the land to his wife, Louise Powis Clark, a gifted designer hailing from New York. Young, renowned for his leadership roles at the helm of the General Electric Corporation and RCA, bestowed upon Clark this verdant canvas, which would later become the enchanting Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.

Things To Do at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park offers an abundance of natural beauty and recreational activities that cater to a variety of interests. One of the park’s standout features is its beaches. The park boasts two unique beach experiences — one along the Matanzas River and the other on the Atlantic Ocean. The riverside beach offers calm, serene waters perfect for a relaxing day by the water’s edge, while the Atlantic side offers a more dynamic environment, with waves crashing against a rare coquina sand beach.

For those who enjoy bicycling, the park offers numerous trails, with varying difficulty levels, weaving through varied landscapes of the park. Visitors can pedal their way around the park, taking in the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural flora and fauna.

Fishing enthusiasts will find the park’s water bodies to be an angler’s paradise. The Matanzas River is a particularly popular spot, with its abundant fish species providing both a challenge and a reward for those who love the sport. The park also offers numerous hiking trails that wind their way through lush, scenic landscapes. These trails take visitors on a journey through the park’s diverse ecosystems, from marshlands to dense oak hammocks, and provide an up-close encounter with the local wildlife.

Picnicking areas are scattered throughout the park, offering visitors a chance to relax and enjoy a meal amid the park’s tranquil settings. Finally, the park is home to a myriad of wildlife species, making it a hot spot for wildlife viewing. Visitors can spot a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and even occasional marine visitors, adding a touch of adventure to your visit.

Canopy Shores Park

Canopy Shores Park, a 33-acre parcel acquired in 2005 through collaboration with the Florida Communities Trust grant program, lies neighboring the serene waters of the Matanzas River and falls within the boundaries of the Northeast Florida Blueway Florida Forever project. This pristine natural area encompasses a diverse landscape of mixed hardwood forest, salt marsh, and floodplain swamp, meticulously managed as a passive resource park.

Under the expansive canopy of majestic oak hammocks, visitors to Canopy Shores Park are afforded numerous opportunities to immerse themselves in the wonders of nature, thus aptly earning its name.

Things To Do at Canopy Shores Park

Canopy Shores Park in St. Augustine is an exquisite amalgamation of nature, recreation, and tranquility. The park’s standout feature is its 1.5-mile paved loop trail. This trail, ideal for both walking and biking, weaves its way through the park’s diverse landscapes, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty while indulging in a healthy dose of physical activity. The trail doubles as an excellent bird-watching spot, where visitors can observe the park’s avian residents in their natural habitat.

The boardwalk offers a spectacular view of the surrounding landscapes, from the lush forests to the expansive marshes, providing a perfect backdrop for nature photography or a peaceful stroll. The park also includes fitness equipment strategically placed along the walking trail. These outdoor fitness stations allow visitors to engage in a variety of exercises, creating a unique blend of fitness and nature.

For families visiting with children, the park’s playground is a feature not to be missed. Designed for exploration and fun, the playground encourages creativity and physical activity in a safe, outdoor environment. Canopy Shores Park also guarantees convenience for its visitors. It offers an enormous space for parking to accommodate vehicles of all sizes. For visitor comfort, restrooms are available within the park, ensuring a hassle-free experience for all.


Does St. Augustine have a national park?

Yes, St. Augustine, Florida, is indeed home to a national park. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a historic site operated by the National Park Service. This 17th-century Spanish fortification, located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay, is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.

What is the best park to see in St. Augustine?

Determining the best park in St. Augustine ultimately depends on what you seek in a park experience. However, the Anastasia State Park often ranks high on visitor lists, and it’s easy to see why. This 1,600-acre park boasts 4 miles of pristine beach, a tidal salt marsh, and a maritime and upland hammock. Here, visitors can partake in a variety of recreational activities, such as bird-watching, hiking, camping, and even surfing.

Which is the best park for a picnic in St. Augustine?

For a picturesque picnic in St. Augustine, consider the serene settings of Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park, the historic backdrop of Fort Mose Historic State Park, the natural beauty of Faver-Dykes State Park, or the unique beach experiences at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Each provides a unique ambiance, ensuring a memorable outdoor dining experience amid nature’s bounty.

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