St. Augustine, Florida, Things to Do – the Fountain of Youth and Beyond

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Teen  lying on netted deck of sailboat one of the best things to do in St. Augustine with kids
The sailing brunch with St. Augustine Sailing. Photo credit: Amy Albers

This post is sponsored by VISIT FLORIDA

You’re going to have a lot of choices if you’re looking for fun things to do in St. Augustine. Whether you’re taking the family to Florida or having an adults-only weekend at the beach, the nation’s oldest city makes a great getaway destination. Five hundred years of combined Native American, Spanish, and British history means there are plenty of interesting places to explore in the ancient city.

If you enjoy the great outdoors, head to St. Augustine Beach or one of the many other options for recreation in the fresh air. We’ve highlighted some in this post. If the weather doesn’t cooperate or indoor attractions are more to your liking, there are plenty of those to please all age groups, too.

On a budget? Try one of these fun free things to do in this historic city help to make for a more affordable vacation.

The Lightner Museum building in St. Augustine is a work of art in itself.
The Lightner Museum is a beautiful building, inside and out. Photo credit: Amy Albers

These are our favorite things to do and must-see sights in the city of St. Augustine.

1. 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 love the grandeur of this place, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 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.

I visited with two teens who rushed me through. While the museum was not designed with children in mind, the nature and science room on the first floor is kid-friendly. It showcases shells, a dinosaur egg fossil and even a mummy.

The middle floor is the danger zone if you have little ones – art galleries filled with gorgeous decorative glass, china, and ceramic.

The top floor houses art on canvas.

Pro Tip: To ensure Florida travel is accessible to people of all abilities, VISIT FLORIDA has recently debuted three new videos in its “Limitless Florida” series highlighting how people of different abilities can – and do – enjoy Florida’s experiences fully. For example, Kennedy Space Center offers a guide for families with autism to prepare for a visit. St. Augustine has a Braille Trail that lets visually-impaired visitors explore tactile art while listening to free audio descriptions via an app. New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach offer free non-motorized beach wheelchair rentals. Get all of the state’s accessibility resources at the VISIT FLORIDA Accessible Travel Hub.

2. St. Augustine Distillery

112 Riberia St.

St. Augustine Distillery offers more than just a place to have a drink. You can take a free, self-guided tour seven days a week! No reservations are required but make sure you have your ID handy. The tour includes the chance to sample four signature cocktails and you won’t want to miss that.

If you like what you sample, you can purchase the “fill your own bottle” experience from the retail shop. You get to go behind the counters and fill a bottle of cask-strength bourbon to take home. If you’ve got some cocktail aficionados in your group, a stop at the St. Augustine Distillery is going to be a guaranteed hit.

The Old Town Trolley is one of the best things to do in St. Augustine
Enjoy flexible sightseeing by letting someone else do the driving on the Old Town Trolley in St. Augustine. This is high on our list of fun things to do in St. Augustine. Photo credit: Amy Albers

3. Old Town Trolley Tours

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. This seems to work better for visitors who might need more frequent food and bathroom breaks.

Another option is to simply enjoy the ride through the historic district 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’s history along the route.

Whether you’re looking for a lazy day of touring or just want to get an overview of the city before digging in to really explore, a hop-on hop-off trolley tour is a great option.

Get Your Guide sells Trolley tours as well as a combo museums and trolley tour.

St. Augustine Sailing brunch charter in St. Augustine.
Enjoy a family-friendly brunch sail around St. Augustine. Photo credit: Amy Albers

4. St. Augustine Sailing

3076 Harbor Dr.

If you love the water but aren’t much of a sailor, you need to check out St. Augustine Sailing.

The company offers a family-friendly brunch sail that is fantastic! For two hours, your group will cruise around the waters of St. Augustine, wind in your hair and a yummy brunch in your belly.

The teens and I agreed – it was an absolute highlight of our trip.

Kids can have a turn steering the boat during a St. Augustine Sailing charter.
Kids will love the opportunity to steer the ship! Photo credit: Amy Albers

The captains give a safety talk before setting sail and fit kids with life jackets. After that, they are free to explore and experience. They even get to take a turn at the helm!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Younger kids are allowed, but if the adults are going to be able to enjoy the experience fully, we recommend taking older kids who require less supervision. 

Ghosts and Gravestones St. Augustine is a fun trolley ghost tour.
Board the Frightseeing trolley if you dare! Photo credit: Amy Albers

5. Ghosts & Gravestones Ghost Tour

27 San Marco Ave.

Being the Oldest City in America, 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 hit all of the high notes of a great tour — they are enthusiastic and humorous and tell a great story.

The tour site says it’s recommended for ages 13 and up; my youngest was not quite 13 and he was fine. The tales were not gory and there were no jump scares. However, children under age 4 are not permitted on the tour.

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.

SheBuysTravel 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.

The beach at Anastasia Island State Park, one of the fun things to do in St. Augustine with kids.
Families can relax on the beach at Anastasia Island State Park. Photo credit: Amy Albers

6. 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 is one of the best beaches in Florida and our kind of place. The walk along the boardwalk to the beach is a bit long, so it’s a good idea to use an awesome beach wagon 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.

Kids digging holes in the sand on the beach in St. Augustine.
Kids find “interesting” ways to amuse themselves at the beach in St. Augustine. Photo credit: Amy Albers

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.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Be sure you are in the know about local fishing license regulations before you go!  

The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is one of the best things to do in St. Augustine.
Visiting National Park Service sites is a great way to entertain kids in St. Augustine. Photo credit: Amy Albers

7. 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. Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States and the only surviving example of 17th-century military construction in the United States. With such a rich 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.

8. 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 learn history in a fun way. They offer a peek at what life was like via the drafty bedrooms and dirty living quarters of the soldiers while you try to imagine what life might have been like for them and their families.

The fun here starts before you arrive at the fort — you get to take a ferry across the Matanzas River for the fort tour. The ferry runs Wednesday through Sunday only and with limited capacity. Boarding passes are issued free at the visitor center and are on a first-come, first-served basis. Tours fill up early in the day, so if this is on your bucket list, schedule this one sooner rather than later

In addition, there are nature trails and the beach available for exploration, along with spots to fish in saltwater.

9. 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 the 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 the fountain of youth 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 surrounding Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth are perfect for letting children run around and explore!

Best Florida Beaches - St. Augustine Lighthouse
The historic St. Augustine Lighthouse is a lot of fun for families. Photo credit: @ Bertl123 /depositphotos.com

10. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

100 Red Cox Road

There is so much more to do here than simply climb to the top of the lighthouse, although the view from this historic landmark 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.

The Colonial Quarter shows families a glimpse of life in early St. Augustine.
Kids experience interactive demonstrations of Colonial life in St. Augustine. Photo credit: Amy Albers

11. The Colonial Quarter

33 St. George St.

SheBuysTravel Founder Kim Orlando says the Spanish 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 honor the city’s history in Spain and 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.

12. Oldest General Store

This fun guided tour of the oldest store museum shows the sometimes awkward predecessors of the 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 Florida’s Historic Coast: St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau.

13. 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!

14. Ripple Effect Adventure Outfitters

SheBuysTravel contributor Terri Marshall her 11-year-old grandson, Benjamin, to St. Augustine and the pair embarked on a kayak tour with Ripple Effect Adventure Outfitters. This eco-focused adventure taught them about the sea creatures they met along the way and provided insights into the reasons everyone needs to embrace and protect the environment.

Toward the end of the two-hour adventure, the tide was rising and against them as the duo paddled back to the marina. Terri says “We turned that into a team-building experience as Benjamin and I learned to work together to paddle our kayak efficiently. Make time for this, it’s amazing!”

The regular tour is 2.5 hours, includes free admission into Marineland Dolphin Adventure and pro kayak guide service by certified instructors. The daytime tour is listed as suitable for ages 6 and up; the sunset tour is 2 hours and is listed as suitable for ages 10 and up.

15. Black Raven Pirate Ship

111 Avenida Menendez

Who doesn’t love the campy fun of a pirate ship adventure? Black Raven Pirate Adventures offers cruises from 1.5 to 2.5 hours, including an adults-only Rum Runner booze cruise that is filled with dirty sea shanties and other not-appropriate-for-little ears fun.

Other cruises encourage passengers to engage in sword fights searching for stolen treasure or settle back to watch the sunset.

16. Ximenez-Fatio House Museum

20 Aviles St.

The Ximenez family built this house on Aviles Street — the oldest street in St. Augustine, the oldest city in America — in 1798. It was later sold and turned into Miss Fatio’s Boarding House, one of the first businesses to be owned and run by a single woman. Throughout Florida’s tourist boom of the early 19th century, it was a highly-sought-after place for military officers on break from from the forts, explorers on the hunt, Saint Augustine and business travelers.

Today, it’s a history museum showcasing that era, complete with the beehive oven originally used in the 1800s.

17. Potter’s Wax Museum

31 Orange St.

Founded by George Potter, who was inspired by Madame Tussauds in London, this St. Augustine spot showcases more than 160 wax figures. Honorees at Potter’s include the real-life Princess Diana and scientist Albert Einstein, and the fictional kid wizard Harry Potter.

Fun Things to Do in St. Augustine with Kids

While any of the aforementioned attractions can be family-friendly, some of the things to do in St. Augustine are just better when you do them with kids! The following attractions definitely make that list.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm, one of the best things to do in St. Augustine with kids
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is a do n’t-miss for kids! Photo credit: Amy Albers

18. 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 that 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.

Kids can feed the gators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, one of the best things to do in St. Augustine
Kids can toss food pellets to their favorite gators! Photo credit: Amy Albers

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. Lace-up shoes or boots are required, and long hair needs to be tied back.

The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is one of the most fun things to do with kids in St. Augustine.
This interactive museum is a hit with history buffs and pirate fans. Definitely worth a stop when visiting St. Augustine with kids. Photo credit: Amy Albers

19. St. Augustine Pirate & 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. They include a lot of information on infamous pirates and shipwrecks as well.

The scavenger hunt at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum engages kids.
Kids will have a blast looking for scavenger hunt clues! Photo credit: Amy Albers

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. You might even find a treasure chest!

SheBuys Travel 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.

20. 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.

21. St. Augustine Aquarium

2045 S.R. 16

This is an outdoor attraction with exhibits and touch tanks. 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.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Because this all outdoors, be prepared to change your plans if inclement weather strikes.

World's oldest school house in St. Augustine Florida
The oldest wooden schoolhouse in the world. Photo credit: Marina K. Villatoro

22. The World’s Oldest Wooden School House

14 St. George St.

Within the 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 historic downtown St Augustine area.

According to the Visit St. Augustine website, there are no wooden structures in the town that were built 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.

23. Marineland Dolphin Adventure

SheBuysTravel contributor Terri Marshall has dreamed of swimming with dolphins for years. But, she says, “I never felt good about intruding into their world in the wild.” Fortunately, Marineland Dolphin Adventure provides an alternative. Located at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean about 18 miles south of St. Augustine, Marineland is the world’s first oceanarium.

Founded to foster the protection and preservation of marine life, Marineland uses interactive education programs to teach visitors of all ages the importance of respecting marine mammals and their environment. Marineland’s exceptional welfare and treatment of the marine mammals in its care recently earned the oceanarium an American Humane Certified seal.

Several packages of experience levels are available. The Royal Swim interactions include the dolphin lifting you above the water with a foot push! Terri and Benjamin chose the Swim Adventure which includes handshakes and hugs along with a thrilling dorsal tow from the deep end of the pool. This 30-minute experience was definitely a highlight of their time in St. Augustine.

Height restrictions apply. Participants must be at least 48″ tall to participate in the Swim Adventure. Children between 48″- 54″ must be accompanied by a paying participant over the age of 18. Limited interactions are also available for young children ages 3 to 4.

Hotel and Vacation Rentals Near St. Augustine

Looking for kid-friendly St. Augustine hotels or vacation rentals? Use this interactive map to find the right accommodations for your family!

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I’m a library assistant in the Georgia Room at the Cobb County Public Library. The Georgia Room is dedicated to local history and genealogy. I love giving programs about local history and assisting patrons with their genealogy research. I spent twelve years creating content for my blog Mom’s Magical Miles before pivoting to freelance writing. I currently write about travel, parenting, and books.
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