Hi there and welcome to this comprehensive guide to family travel in St. Augustine!
There are so many reasons why St. Augustine is perfect for family travel. The city really ticks all the boxes for adults and children too. With a nickname like The Ancient City, you know there will be historic sites galore. In fact, some of their historic sites and relics date back to the 1500’s. I first visited The Ancient City in 2012 and have been drawn to it ever since.
St. Augustine is also great for budget travelers. They have unexpectedly low prices and so many things that you can do for free. It’s a good option for people who have been wanting to visit Florida, but think they can’t afford it. If you’re looking for a cheap city to visit in the Florida, you should take a look at the east coast. Cities like St. Augustine may surprise you!
St. Augustine Beach Options
St. Augustine has 42 miles of beaches to enjoy, here are a few family friendly beach options.
Anastasia State Park
The beach in this state park is excellent and you get the added benefit of bathrooms and a nice playground by the beach as well. It costs $8 to enter the state park and you can park your vehicle right on the beach. Dogs and camping are also allowed. However, you will have to pay an additional fee to camp in the park. You can read about camping costs and all other park info, HERE.
This beach is slightly south of St. Augustine. However, I think it’s worth the drive. There are onsite showers and bathrooms and you can drive your vehicles onto this beach as well. This is a HUGE long and wide beach with plenty of room, making it a great beach for family travelers.
Frank B. Butler County Park
Another free beach with bathroom facilities. If you’re looking for a beach that gives you an opportunities to see some wildlife, then this may beach may be for you. The park is dedicated to preserving the dune system on the beach because they are home to the endangered Anastasia Island beach mouse and the gopher tortoise.
If you are looking for a less crowded beach, Vilano is perfect. However, I only recommend this beach for older children for several reasons. On the positive side, it has bathrooms, picnic tables, showers, and life guards. However, there is a steep drop off, the beach is quite shelly, and the water is rough compared to other St. Augustine beaches. It’s great for skim boarding and surfing and there is also a good possibility you will see wildlife. We saw dolphins, crabs, and jellyfish the last time we visited the beach; people have also been known to find starfish, sand dollars, and more. PLUS: This beach gives you a view of the Saint Augustine Lighthouse.
Free Things to do in St. Augustine
St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine
Located on St. George Street you can explore the first Greek Orthodox Church in America. The exhibits in the church depict what life was like for the first Greek immigrants who came to America in the 1760’s.
Father Miguel O’Reilly House Museum
Learn about the history of St. Augustine at the former home of Father O’Reilly. He was an Irish Priest who came to the city in service to the Spanish crown. Some parts of this historic home are the originals, dating back to 1565.
Fort Matanzas National Monument
How often do you get a free ferry ride to a national monument? It’s unheard of, but it’s possible in St. Augustine. Simply go to the Fort Matanzas Visitor Center to get your free ferry pass and enjoy the ride over to the monument. Park rangers lead tours of the monument and you can also take walking trails and enjoy the beach while on the island.
Cathedral Basilica St. Augustine
The docents of this church welcome visitors to step inside and enjoy the beautiful interior of the building. It’s a very ornate church and is worth the visit!
Take a walking tour of the St. Augustine Historic District
A great way to really dive into all that St. Augustine has to offer is by taking a self guided walking tour through St. Augustine. Some must see sights are The Bridge of Lions, The Old City Gates Historical Marker and Flagler College. Make sure to see the sights down St. George Street and Aviles Street as well.
Other Super Fun Things to do in St. Augustine
The Alligator Farm
I love visiting the Alligator Farm. My favorite part is when you first walk in you will see the Alligator Lagoon. It’s a large area surrounded by wooden walkways and if you’re lucky you will get to see a feeding. Watching the ancient reptiles jump up in the air is awesome. Another highlight for me is Rookery. The native birds that come and go to the trees in this area are wild and do as they please. A new feature at the Alligator Farm is the “zip through the zoo” You can choose from two zip line/aerial rope courses, each has their own price and course length.
Old Time Trolley
It’s so much fun to see St. Augustine by trolley. Old Time Trolley has a few different options to choose from. You can hop on and off at 23 paces in the city and depending on what ticket you buy, you can get free access to some attractions and exclusive stops at some as well. The trolley is a good option for getting around the city for those who didn’t drive to St. Augustine or those who don’t want to rent a vehicle. More Old Time Trolley information, HERE.
Castillo De San Marcos
Another one of my St. Augustine faves! The views from the top are incredible and in my opinion you can never go wrong with learning a bit of history. So many different cultures have a history at the Castillo De San Marcos and in St. Augustine as a whole and this national monument strives to preserve that history. For the little ones, the castle hold different camps in the summer. Check out their website for exact dates, HERE.
Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth
This is a great place to visit for adults and children. The bests parts of the park are drinking from the actual spring that Ponce De Leon believed to be the fountain of youth and the planetarium. I also enjoyed the Navigators Planetarium and the cannon firing. They hold the cannon firing daily and in the planetarium they turn the night sky back to how it would have looked in 1513.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse
Climb the lighthouse for amazing sea views. They also have a ghost tour option, buy tickets through this link for the only ghost tour that actually gets you inside the lighthouse during the tour. Another tour option is the Sunset/Moonrise Tour which gives you a perfect sunset view with champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Keep in mind that climbing the lighthouse
Where To Eat
Stop for a bite to eat at one of St. Augustines yummy and kid approved restaurants.
The Floridian Restaurant
They have incredibly fresh food with outdoor seating and a great pie selection.
Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar
This is a super fun sweet shop and it’s super insta-worthy! You can get delicious loaded waffles and milkshakes with unique names like Air Kentucky and Electric Jellyfish.
Get your burger served to you in a bucket.. or better yet try a doughnut burger!!
The Original Likit Fish & Chips
Stop at Likit for a Dole Whip soft serve cone and a basket of fish and chips. They also have other grab and go foods like hotdogs, fries, and chicken poppers.
Whetstone Chocolate Store
Visit this little chocolate shop for chocolates, caramels, gelato or maybe a coffee. This is also a great place to pick up a souvenir & you can even take a tour to learn how they make their sweet treats.
Where To Stay
A DOWNTOWN OPTION
Villa 1565 Hotel
This hotel is located close to Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth, has an outdoor pool, and it absolutely gorgeous. & to top it off, you can can book a room with two beds for less than $130/night. That price is great considering the beauty of the hotel and it’s location in the city.
A BEACH FRONT OPTION
The Saint Augustine Beach House
This hotel is the quintessential American beach house. From it’s location overlooking Vilano Beach, you can get catch a view of the St. Augustine lighthouse and you are in walking distance of many popular restaurants and attractions.
A SPECTACULAR VIEWS OPTIONS
Marker 8 Hotel & Marina
This hotel is located right along the water and The Bridge of Lions. You can enjoy the view of the marina and the bridge while you take a swim in their outdoor pool or while you eat your breakfast in the morning.
Family Travel in St. Augustine
As you can see, St. Augustine really is a crowd pleaser. The beaches, the history, and there is just so many things to do! This is without a doubt one of the best places for family travel in the states. Usually when I find a place that my children love, I’m not loving it the way they are. On the other hand, when we are in a place full of history and nature experiences, my girls usually get bored. St. Augustine is the perfect middle ground to keep the whole family happy.