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What is there to do in Downtown St. Augustine? - 10 Best Activities

Suzanne Bratton

January 23rd 2021

What is there to do in Downtown St. Augustine? - 10 Best Activities

Also known as the “Nation’s Oldest City,” St. Augustine, FL, was founded in 1565, and is known for its rich history, cultural sites and landmarks, stunning scenery, awe-inspiring architecture, and for having tons of unforgettable things to do! History buffs will especially love this spectacular city, as St. Augustine has over 500 years of history and stories to share. In fact, the Historic Downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as 20 other landmarks located within this district.

Historical relevance aside, downtown St. Augustine has an abundance of amazing things to do to accommodate all types of travelers. From dancing the night away at one of the many local clubs and pubs, to appreciating the arts at the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine has it all. So, what is there to do in downtown St. Augustine, you ask? Keep reading and discover the 10 best activities in downtown St. Augustine for a fantastic trip you won’t soon forget!

Table of Contents

  • Museums
  • Colonial Quarter
  • City Sightseeing Tours
  • Castillo de San Marcos
  • Ghost Tours
  • Flagler College
  • St. George Street
  • Dining
  • Nightlife
  • Boat Tours

 


 

Museums

 

Lightner Museum in downtown St. Augustine
Lightner Museum in downtown St. Augustine

 

St. Augustine is like a time capsule; this centuries-old city is full of so much history, with sights, landmarks, and stories around every corner. With that being said, it probably comes as no surprise that visiting local museums is one of the top things to do in downtown St. Augustine. If you’re ready to combine both learning and fun, then check out one of these amazing St. Augustine museums:

  • Spanish Military Hospital Museum: The Spanish Military Hospital Museum is housed in a replica of a military hospital that stood in the same spot in the late 1700s. Visitors will see how patients were treated here, war beds, surgeon tools, and more! Checking out this museum is a great way to understand how healthcare worked during the Spanish Colonial Period.
  • Lightner Museum: The Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, which was built in 1888, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the 1940s, Henry M. Flagler converted the hotel into a museum to house his massive collection of art. From Gilded Age artifacts, to Victorian glass art, there is so much art to appreciate at this magnificent museum!
  • St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum: Embark on your very own swashbuckling adventure at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum! Here, guests can experience what it was like to be a pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy. With over 800 artifacts, and 300 years of pirate history to explore, buccaneers of all ages are sure to love this amazing museum!
  • Oldest Store Museum: Touring the Oldest Store Museum with Historic Tours of America will make you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time! Located just north of Historic Downtown, this re-creation of the original St. Augustine general store, which was in use around 1900, boasts over 100,000 items. From vintage bicycles, to a goat-powered washing machine, there’s plenty to see at the Oldest Store Museum!
  • Medieval Torture Museum: This museum is not for the faint-hearted, as the Medieval Torture Museum was created by historians, scientists, creators, and curators to invoke an emotional reaction from those who visit. This museum shows the dark history of medieval torture, and showcases a collection of more than 100 pieces! This museum also offers a Micro Art Collection, which offers a lighter experience, and can be viewed separately from the Medieval Torture Museum.

{Read Reviews & Book St. Augustine Museum Tickets Online}

 

Colonial Quarter

 

Colonial Quarter in downtown St. Augustine
Couple strolling through Colonial Quarter in downtown St. Augustine

 

The Colonial Quarter is a unique attraction located in Historic Downtown, that takes visitors back in time through three centuries of St. Augustine history. This two-acre complex offers so many incredible experiences, from joining in on an authentic musket drill, to climbing up 35 feet to the top of a Spanish watchtower replica. Not only that, multiple landmarks and historic sites are located here, making the Colonial Quarter the perfect combination of history, and fun! Other terrific things to experience at the Colonial Quarter include:

  • Guided tours to see how residents lived, worked, and played in the oldest permanent European Settlement in North America
  • Blacksmith demonstrations
  • Walking down the Flags Over St. Augustine boardwalk, where you stroll under the flags that have flown in St. Augustine for over 400 years
  • Delicious dining options from fresh seafood, to 18th-century style Spanish dining
  • Shopping at Explorer’s Outpost for replica weaponry, maps, souvenirs, and more
  • Extraordinary events from live musical performances, to movie showings

 

City Sightseeing Tours

 

city sightseeing tour in downtown St. Augustine
City tour aboard a trolley in downtown St. Augustine

 

Journey through St. Augustine on a guided city sightseeing tour, and uncover the history, secrets, and stories of this awesome and ancient city. Tour guides help visitors to truly understand this historic place, as they provide a deeper understanding of the facts, as well as lesser known myths and mysteries. City tours are also a great way to be sure you’re witnessing the best of what St. Augustine has to offer! The top sights you may see on a spectacular city tour include:

  • Plaza de la Constitucion
  • Castillo de San Marcos
  • The Fountain of Youth site
  • Matanzas Harbor
  • St. George Street
  • Colonial Quarter
  • And MORE!

{Read Reviews & Book St. Augustine City Tours Online}

 

Castillo de San Marcos

 

Castillo de San Marcos in downtown St. Augustine
The massive Castillo de San Marcos located in downtown St. Augustine

 

The Castillo de San Marcos is the most visited historic site in all of St. Augustine, and should definitely be added to your vacation itinerary. This fort is the oldest masonry fort in the United States, and the only 17th-century military construction that is still standing. In fact, it’s the oldest structure in all of St. Augustine, as it is over 300 years old, and was recognized as a National Monument in 1924.

The Castillo was originally created as a fortress by the Spanish to protect the town from invasion. Now, this majestic fort preserves the history of St. Augustine, creating an educational and unforgettable experience for anyone who visits. Aside from the awe-inspiring architecture and scenic views, visitors to this National Monument will also get to experience:

  • Cannon and Musket Demonstrations
  • Rangers and Volunteers in Period Dress
  • Self-Guided Tours
  • Re-enactments by Historians in Costume
  • Historic Exhibits and Interactive Activities

And that’s just the beginning! Park rangers will also offer a variety of talks throughout the day, and share stories of the fort’s past and impact. An informational video is also shown every half hour, providing even more historical information to viewers. The luscious green space near the fort is perfect for selfies, picnics, and taking in some incredible St. Augustine views! Discover even more facts about the Castillo de San Marcos, below:

 

Castillo de San Marcos History and Facts

 

Ghost Tours

 

ghost tour in downtown St. Augustine
Group sets off on a spooky and spectacular ghost tour through downtown St. Augustine

 

St. Augustine is not only known for being the oldest city, but also one of the most haunted! With such a rich and extensive history, it probably comes as no surprise that spirits are believed to fill the cobblestone streets on which their living counterparts used to roam. Ghost tours come in all shapes and sizes, from walking tours to haunted trolley rides, so finding the perfect paranormal outing is easy! Below are a few of the haunted sites you may encounter during a St. Augustine ghost tour:

  • The Old Jail
  • The Old Drug Store
  • Tolomato Cemetery
  • St. George Street
  • And MORE!

{Read Reviews & Book St. Augustine Ghost & Cemetery Tours Online}

 

Flagler College

 

Flagler College in downtown St. Augustine
Flagler College and its awe-inspiring architecture in downtown St. Augustine

 

Taking a historic tour of Flagler College showcases the spectacular Spanish Renaissance architecture of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, which is the centerpiece of the campus, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Railroad tycoon and industrialist, Henry M. Flagler, built the hotel in 1888, and it was one of the most luxurious and exclusive resorts at the time. Even to this day, Flagler College is regularly named one of the most beautiful universities in the country, and is a breathtaking sight to behold!

 

St. George Street

 

St. George Street in downtown St. Augustine
Image of St. George Street in downtown St. Augustine from Wikimedia

 

When searching for what there is to do in downtown St. Augustine, look no further than lively St. George Street! St. George Street is a pedestrian-only street, and is the hub for shopping, dining, entertainment, attractions, and historical sites in St. Augustine. This historic and iconic area is a must for anyone traveling to the Nation’s Oldest City! On the very north end of the street is the Old City Gate, which was built in 1808 as a defense mechanism. Other important landmarks and things to do while strolling down St. George Street include the following:

  • Oldest Wooden School House
  • Cathedral Basilica
  • St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
  • Pena Peck House
  • Colonial Quarter
  • And MORE!

 

Dining

 

dining in downtown St. Augustine
Downtown St. Augustine is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal

 

What is there to do in downtown St. Augustine? Eat! There are tons of delicious dining options in downtown St. Augustine, with something for even the pickiest palates in your group. From fantastic fresh seafood in a casual setting, to fine dining at the charming Cafe Alcazar, there’s something for all cravings and budgets in beautiful St. Augustine, FL. If the massive amount of tasty options is simply overwhelming, consider checking out one of these landmark restaurants below:

  • Salt Water Cowboys
  • Spanish Bakery & Cafe
  • Old City House
  • Cafe Alcazar
  • Kingfish Grill

 

Nightlife

 

nightlife in downtown St. Augustine
Group toasts to an amazing night out in downtown St. Augustine

 

Nightlife is on another level in downtown St. Augustine! From an upscale night out on the town, to local pubs and karaoke bars, all types of party people can be accommodated here. St. George Street is the place to be, as it has a bustling nightlife that attracts both locals and visitors alike! The Bull & Crown Publick House and Taberna del Caballo are both historic watering holes located in the Colonial Quarter. Another popular spot is the Mill Top Tavern, which offers live music nightly, as well as unparalleled views of the Castillo de San Marcos from their upper deck.

Even the younger ones can have fun at night in downtown St. Augustine! After sunset is the perfect time to embark on a spooky night tour of haunted St. Augustine. In addition, on summer nights and most weekends, many establishments along St. George Street will stay open late. This means that you can enjoy a tasty ice cream or delicious dessert, and end the evening satisfying your sweet tooth. With that being said, all ages can enjoy what St. Augustine has to offer when the sun goes down!

 

Boat Tours

 

boat tour aboard Victory III in downtown St. Augustine
Pictured above is the Victory III preparing to depart on an unforgettable boat tour through Matanzas Bay

 

Cruise through the magnificent Matanzas Bay and Intracoastal Waterway aboard a boat tour, and experience St. Augustine in a whole new way! As the captain provides interesting historical narration, guests will take in incomparable views of St. Augustine’s historical sights and natural beauty. Be sure to look out for landmarks such as the Castillo de San Marcos and the Bridge of Lions, as well as wonderful wildlife like dolphins, manatees, egrets, and more!

{Read Reviews & Book St. Augustine Boat Tours Online}

 


 

As you can see, there is practically no limit to what there is to do in downtown St. Augustine. From ghastly ghost tours full of fun and fright, to scenic boat tours through Matanzas Bay, there is something for everyone in this historic city. Just rest assured, however you decided to utilize your time in Ancient City, you’re in for a treat!

 


 

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