Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Old Town Trolley Tours
- 2. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
- 4. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
- 5. Fort Matanzas National Monument
- 6. St. Augustine Sailing
- 7. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
- 8. The Colonial Quarter
- 9. St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
- 10. Ripley’s Believe It or Not
- 11. Ghosts & Gravestones Ghost Tour
- 12. St. Augustine Aquarium
- 13. Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
- 14. The World’s Oldest Wooden School House
- 15. Oldest General Store
- 16. Old Jail
- 17. The Lightner Museum
- Fun in St. Augustine
At more than 500 years old, St. Augustine in Florida has the distinction of being the oldest city in the United States. That doesn’t mean it’s boring! In fact, the rich Native American and Spanish history of St. Augustine means there are plenty of interesting places to explore. These are our favorite things to do in St. Augustine with kids — and without.
This post is sponsored by VISIT FLORIDA.
St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, is known for its history and the beautiful Old City Historic District. But that’s just one of the reasons to visit.
If your family enjoys the great outdoors, you can head to St. Augustine Beach or one of the many other options for recreation in the fresh air. If indoor attractions are more to your liking, there are plenty of those to please all age groups, too. There also are plenty of free things to do in St. Augustine to make it an affordable family vacation.
Here are our best recommendations for fun things to do in St. Augustine with kids.
1. Old Town Trolley Tours
167 San Marco Ave.
This hop-on, hop-off trolley tour stops at many of the attractions and sites listed in this article, making touring a breeze with no worries about directions or parking. You can purchase one-day tickets or, if you plan to tour more extensively, go for the two-day tickets so you can spend more time at each attraction.
Another option is to simply enjoy the ride and not get off at any of the stops. The trolley drivers point out notable landmarks — such as the Tiffany stained glass windows of the Flagler College Dining Hall — and tell stories about St. Augustine history along the route.
If your family is getting a little tuckered out but you still want to take in some local sights, this is the way to do it!
2. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
999 Anastasia Blvd.
My oldest son has long loved anything slimy or scaly. Even at 19, he perked up when I mentioned going to the Alligator Farm would be on our list of things to do in St. Augustine.
There is so much more than alligators there! It’s the only zoo that has all 24 known species of crocodiles on site. A large, uncontained rookery is home to herons, ibis and more. There are lemurs, Galapagos tortoises and other animals on site as well.
Feeling brave? Try ziplining over the crocodiles! The Sepik River zipline and obstacle course is lower and shorter, taking roughly 45 minutes. The Nile River course is higher and offers more challenges, lasting approximately 90 minutes. Kids have to be at least 8 years old and over 52 inches tall and all participants need to weigh less than 250 pounds to zipline.
TravelingMom Tip: If you have teens, check out these fun things for teenagers in St. Augustine.
3. Anastasia State Park
There are so many things to do in St. Augustine that it’s easy to forget about the simplest one: Hit the beach! There are many places with beach access, but we stopped in at Anastasia Island State Park for our visit.
With four miles of protected beach, this was our kind of place. The walk along the boardwalk to the beach is a bit long, so it’s a good idea to use a beach wagon or some other contraption if you are hauling a lot of stuff.
If you don’t bring your own, you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and other equipment there.
While it was still a little chilly to be in the water during our visit, I’ve got two dedicated sand diggers who spent an excessive amount of time digging a hole deep enough to be over both of their heads. When I asked why, I was told, “I don’t know; I just felt like it.” Good enough for me.
Recreation Rentals at Anastasia Park
There is an onsite snack bar, so between that and the beach rentals, your day at the beach could be as relaxing as possible. If your family is the roughing-it type, there are camping sites in the park within walking distance of the beach.
If you want a little more action from your time outdoors, there are all kinds of recreation equipment you can rent for your family. At Anastasia Watersports, you can rent bicycles as well as kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, surf boards and boogie boards. Fishing rods are not available for rent at the park, but you can find many other places in St. Augustine that do have them.
Traveling Mom Tip: Be sure you are in the know about local fishing license regulations before you go!
4. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
1 S. Castillo Dr.
I was excited to put this one on our list of things to do in St. Augustine! My family always looks for state or national park sites to visit during our travels and collect a patch from each one to make into a Christmas ornament.
The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States and the only currently surviving example of 17th century military construction in the U.S. With such a long history, it has a lot of great stories attached to it.
Forts are especially fun for younger kids who find lots of space to run and explore. The Castillo de San Marcos is no exception. There are all kinds of rooms kids can poke into.
Head up to the top level for the incredible views of Matanzas Bay. As a National Park Service site, there is a free Junior Ranger program available that will make touring more fun for kids; they get a badge when they complete the booklet.
Kids ages 15 and under are free! The best part is that the admission fee is good for seven consecutive days, so if your touring is cut short for any reason, you can visit again within the week.
TravelingMom Tip: Since ranger programs are on hold now due to Covid restrictions, be sure to download the free NPS app for self-guided tours and ranger talks about the Castillo. Or take the Get Your Guide tour of the historic sites.
5. Fort Matanzas National Monument
8635 A1A South
One of St. Augustine’s premier historical sites, this coquina stone fort was completed in 1742 by the Spanish, despite repeated attacks from the British and their Native American allies.
Forts are a great way to teach kids history in a fun way. They get a peek at what life was like as they walk through the drafty bedrooms and dirty living quarters of the soldiers and try to imagine what life might have been like for them and their families.
Under normal operations, you would board a free ferry that heads out to the fort every hour on the half hour. Currently, the ferry and the fort building are closed, but you can use the above mentioned NPS app to experience a virtual tour.
In addition, there are nature trails and the beach available for exploration, along with spots to fish in saltwater.
All areas of the park are free to access. If free is your kind of price, check out these free things to do in St. Augustine – with or without kids!
6. St. Augustine Sailing
3076 Harbor Dr.
If you prefer to let someone else do the boating while you kick back, you need to check out St. Augustine Sailing.
The company offers a family-friendly brunch sail that is fantastic! For two hours, your family will cruise around the waters of St. Augustine, wind in your hair and a yummy brunch in your belly.
The kids and I agreed – it was an absolute highlight of our trip.
If you still have Covid concerns, this is a great outdoors activity that allows a max of only 6 on board. The captains give a safety talk before setting sail and fit younger kids with life jackets. After that, they are free to explore and experience. They even get to take a turn at the helm!
7. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
100 Red Cox Rd.
There is so much more to do here than simply climb to the top of the lighthouse, although the view is there for the taking.
For kids, there’s a maritime-themed playground, interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, exhibits, nature trails and a scavenger hunt. The whole family might be interested in the on site wooden ship building demonstrations. Plan to spend plenty of time here.
8. The Colonial Quarter
33 St. George St.
TravelingMom Founder Kim Orlando says the Colonial Quarter is a must-do on any list of things to do in St. Augustine. It’s a living history museum that spans the 16th through 18th centuries.
Blacksmiths, leather makers, candle makers and boatwrights reenact that old way of life. Costumed historical figures discuss the meals they are cooking and demonstrate daily activities from that time period. There are also musket drills and a watchtower that you can climb to look over the bay and the Castillo de San Marcos.
She says not to miss the 50-foot caravel, a sailing vessel similar to the one navigated by Ponce De Leon in 1513.
This is history made fun, with engaging, interactive elements for kids of all ages. When we visited, children were being taught games that were popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.
End the day by eating bangers & mash at the Bull & Crown Publick House, an authentic British pub where nefarious townspeople like the Governor have been known to pay a visit.
9. St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
12 S. Castillo Dr.
Near The Colonial Quarter you can find this absolute gem of a place for kids.
I’m going to be honest – when I was urged to visit this attraction, my first thought was that it was going to be some touristy, corny museum with a bunch of fake pirate stuff. I was so wrong.
First, the décor inside is brilliant. The whole place is designed to make you feel like you are wandering through the rooms of a pirate ship in Port Royal, Jamaica. The room designs and displays are all very well done, and the museum houses the world’s largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts.
Secondly, I can’t even begin to list the interactive elements. The big hit is a scavenger hunt. In each room there are drawers marked with a skull and crossbones. Once kids find them, they need to write down on their map the names of the artifacts found inside.
You can experience lighting a cannon, lifting a bar of gold to see how heavy it is, view one of the last authentic Jolly Roger flags… I told you, there are just too many fun things to list.
Traveling Mom Tip: This place was a blast but we visited on a Saturday afternoon and the rooms were getting congested. This might be a good stop first thing in the morning or on a weekday.
10. Ripley’s Believe It or Not
19 San Marco Ave.
If your family likes the wonderfully weird, then Ripley’s Believe It or Not is for you! Referring to itself as an “odditorium.” Ripley’s is home to shrunken heads, vampire kits, optical illusions and more.
Prepare yourself to have your kids ask you, “Is that real?” repeatedly. This is a fun stop for families to giggle, gawk and just have fun.
11. Ghosts & Gravestones Ghost Tour
27 San Marco Ave.
Being the Oldest City, St. Augustine is naturally home to ghost stories and paranormal sightseeing tours galore. We took the Ghosts and Gravestones trolley tour and learned about some of the oldest residents of the city. The tour guides are enthusiastic and tell a great story.
The tour site says it’s recommended for ages 13 and up; my youngest is not quite 13 and he was fine. The stories were not gory and there were no jump scares.
We stayed in the trolley for most of the tour but did hop off twice – once at a cemetery (we stayed outside the gates) and once at the Castillo de San Marcos.
TravelingMom Tip: Only you can decide if it’s right for your kids, but we wouldn’t go lower than 11 years old for this one. There also are other ghost tours available, including a walking tour of the Old Town.
12. St. Augustine Aquarium
2045 S.R. 16
This is a new attraction with plans to add on in coming years. Right now, the exhibits and touch tanks are outdoors, so you may need to change your plans if inclement weather strikes.
Marine biologists are on hand to lead tours and you can even snorkel inside one of the tanks for an additional fee. Kids can also feed sharks and dig for shark teeth.
13. Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
11 Magnolia Ave.
This, my friends, is the quintessential St. Augustine attraction on every “things to do in St. Augustine” list. Believed to be where explorer Juan Ponce de Leon came ashore in 1513, it is a mix of Native American and Spanish history. While the jury is still out on whether Ponce de Leon ever went in search of a Fountain of Youth, there is so much more to learn at this attraction.
For instance, it’s also the site where Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded the colony of St. Augustine in 1565. Think the first Thanksgiving feast was in New England? Nope! It was celebrated here, between the Spanish and the Timucua.
There is indeed a well and you can try your luck at eternal youth by drinking a sample of its water. But don’t stop there! Explore the Timucua village and burial grounds, the planetarium, and the reconstructed 1587 Mission Church of Nombre de Dios.
The acres of land here are perfect for letting children run around and explore!
14. The World’s Oldest Wooden School House
14 St. George Street
Within the downtown streets of the Old City stands the world’s oldest wooden schoolhouse. This 18th century building is easy to miss, since it blends with the other buildings of the bustling area.
According to the Visit St. Augustine website, there are no wooden structures in the town that were build before 1702, the year the British burned Spanish St. Augustine to the ground. Tax records indicate that the building was a house in 1716. Juan Genoply, one of the original inhabitants of the house, became the first school teacher. After marrying, he added the second story where his family lived while the first floor served as a co-ed school.
A visit to the schoolhouse shows kids just what life was like for children in the 1800s. There are copies of old textbooks and school supplies. Kids also can tour the detached kitchen and gardens, where a fruitful pecan tree has been growing for 250 years.
In 1937, a large chain was wrapped around the house to help hold it together in the face of hurricane-force winds and weather. The house is located in the shopping district of St. George Street.
15. Oldest General Store
167 San Marco Ave.
This fun guided tour of the oldest general store shows the sometimes awkward predecessors of the modern appliances we use today.
Walk across the creaky floors of the building to marvel at the “modern” appliances of the late 1900s — everything from tonics to unicycles to a goat-powered washing machine. The collection features vintage farm equipment, collars and corsets, “health underwear,” a corn sheller and a grain thresher and all sorts of elixirs, including the ever-popular worm syrup, according to Visit St. Augustine.
16. Old Jail
167 San Marco Ave.
The Old Jail in St. Augustine housed prisoners for 60 years. Built in 1891 by Henry Flagler, the jail looks very much the way it did when it opened more than a century ago.
The guided tour includes info about the many prisoners and Sheriff Joe Perry, the harsh warden who lived next door with his family. There are cells for men, cells for women and the gallows where prisoners were executed.
Costumed actors portray deputies from the early days and everyone gets a chance to try and escape!
17. The Lightner Museum
75 King St.
Completed in 1888, this magnificent building was once the Alcazar Hotel. Built by railroad magnate Henry Flagler, it was the height of luxury in St. Augustine. It closed during the Great Depression and was purchased in the 1940s by Otto Lightner to display his extensive art collection.
I hesitated about including this attraction because, real talk, this place was not designed with children in mind. At all. The two I had with me were being very teenagery and rushed me through. They normally like museums, so I’m chalking this up to being tired at the end of a long trip.
What I think most kids will enjoy is the nature and science room on the first floor. This room has shells, a dinosaur egg fossil and even a mummy.
The middle floor is the danger zone if you have little ones – tons of gorgeous decorative glass, china, and ceramic.
The top floor houses art on canvas.
I do think there is a special category of kid that will love the grandeur of this place. Since it used to be a hotel, there are a lot of elaborate decorative touches that you wouldn’t normally find in a museum. Some of the original bathing fixtures are there for view and I appreciated the spots that had large pictures nearby, showing what that particular room looked like in the 1890s.
If you have a mature child who appreciates buildings and artwork from days gone by, then this could be worth a stop for you.
Fun in St. Augustine
The number of family-friendly things to do in St. Augustine proves that history and culture can be anything but dull. Regardless of whether your family skews more towards indoors or outdoors, there are more than enough experiences to keep your family busy and happy.
Speaking of happy, if you’ve got a picky eater in the group be sure to check out our St. Augustine restaurant recommendations that even work for picky eaters, like mine!