St. Augustine is considered the oldest city in the U.S., yet it often does not get the credit it deserves. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the first European settled city in the US. There are not many cities here that are filled with Spanish colonial architecture, and St. Augustine’s historic district is loaded with history. While it is not a living history museum like Williamsburg, there are plenty of things to do in St. Augustine with kids. Our family has visited St. Augustine several times when we drive in and out of Florida. It is usually our go-to stop when on a Southeast road trip. There is so much to do in the city that we have gone to St. Augustine with kids four times and still have not explored the entire city. If your family enjoys some history and checking out a unique city, then St. Augustine should be on your family bucket list. Here are some of our recommendations for the many things to do in St. Augustine with kids.
How to Get to St. Augustine
St. Augustine is located near the border of Florida and Georgia. It is about 20 minutes off of I-95 and 45 minutes away from Jacksonville. It makes for a great road trip stop just off the highway. If you are flying, Jacksonville is the closest airport to the city.
St. Augustine for Kids
St. Augustine seems like the perfect city for a school field trip. It has just the right mix of history, museums, forts, churches, ghost stories, and streets to explore. A weekend is just the right amount of time to explore this little town, but due to its’ location off the highway, it’s a popular road trip stop. Regardless of the amount of time you have, check out this guide of the things to do in St. Augustine with kids (or without).
St. Augustine Historic District
When you visit St. Augustine with kids, the historic district is where to start. Everything centers around this walkable brick-lined old city downtown area. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite things to do in St. Augustine with kids is to walk around the cobblestone streets. Walking the historic district and soaking up its’ history is definitely the best thing to do in St. Augustine. St. George Street has many local shops, candy stores, and small attractions. It is in this area where you will find the majority of the family-friendly attractions in St. Augustine such as the Castillo San Marcos, the Fountain of Youth, the Pirate and Treasure Museum, and the Oldest Wooden School House.
Things to Do in St. Augustine with Kids
Visit Castillo San Marcos
Among the best things to do in St. Augustine with kids is to visit the Castillo San Marcos. The Castillo de San Marcos is a National Monument run by the National Park service. The fort is the oldest masonry fort in the U.S. dating back to the 1600s. It was built from limestone called coquina which has withstood attacks from pirates, the British and the French. Technically, one of the free things to do in St. Augustine would be to walk around the ramparts and take pictures along the fort’s limestone walls. It is located right on the bay and walking around Castillo San Marcos may be just enough if you are traveling to St. Augustine with little ones. This is what we did the first few visits when the kids were under 6 years old.
On our last trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, we stopped in St. Augustine and the kids begged us to go inside. It is part of the National Park service and admission is $15 per adult (kids are free). If you have a 4th grader, your family can enter for free. Read about the basics of the 4th grade national parks pass and be sure to print out the Every Kid in a Park pass on your computer before you get there.
Inside you can climb the mortar structures, explore the soldiers’ quarters, walk into an armory, watch weapons demonstrations, and attend a cannon firing event. There are also free ranger led tours included with the price of admission. Our favorite activity though was the Junior Ranger activity. Our kids had to go on a scavenger hunt to answer some questions and of course, ask mom/dad for help. They loved it!
Tips for Visiting Castillo San Marcos
- It is open from 8:45 AM-5:15 PM daily
- If you have an annual National Parks pass then you can use that for a free entrance
- Adult walk-in tickets for $10 per person
- Children ages 15 or younger may enter free with a paid adult
- There is parking right by the Castillo but it can be difficult to get a space. The city’s parking garage is 3 blocks away and has an all-day rate or you can pay $2.50 an hour.
Visit the Fountain of Youth
According to legend, Ponce de Leon, a Spanish conquistador, set out to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. He believed to have found it in St. Augustine. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is a great place to take children to learn about the history of St. Augustine. It has a number of exhibits including a native Timucuan village, a Spanish mission, burial grounds, a planetarium, a blacksmith area, cannon firings, and sections of the original Spanish settlement dating back to the
Explore the Pirate and Treasure Museum
One of the unique things to do in St. Augustine with kids is to visit the Pirate and Treasure Museum. This museum is a kid favorite. If anyone in your group has an interest in pirates, then this is a great museum to visit. I was pleasantly surprised by the exhibits here and found them to be quite interesting. We had to rush through on our visit, but overall kids really enjoyed the exhibits. Admission is inexpensive at $13.99 for adults and $6.99 for children under 12. Check out what there is to do in the picture below or buy tickets here.
Tour the Oldest Wooden School House
Visiting the oldest wooden schoolhouse is one of the many things to do in St. Augustine with kids. To be honest, we have never gone inside. Our kids were content with taking pictures outside and moving on. You can take a self-guided tour for $5 per person and learn about the man who taught local kids reading, writing and arithmetic from his house and garden in the early 1800s.
Take a Chocolate Tour at Whetstone’s
This was one of the highlights of our recent stop in St. Augustine. Being that our kids have seen many of the St. Augustine attractions, we decided to take a chocolate tasting and tour at Whetstone Chocolate right by Flagler College. This is a great activity for the whole family and one of my newly recommended things to do in St. Augustine with kids. I think kids at any age would find this tour interesting. It includes a short introductory video, a walking tour of the factory with a guide, and best of all free chocolate tastings throughout the 45-minute tour! Prices are very reasonable at $8 per adult and $5.50 per child under 17. Plus, as an added bonus, you receive $2 off chocolate purchased at the store (we couldn’t resist).
Visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium
This is the first Ripley’s Believe It or Not in the country and has tons of things to do for kids. In addition to strange exhibits and visual illusions, visitors can also take the Red Train Tours, play miniature golf along the water, or even take a nightly ghost train. It is also an inexpensive visit as the price for adult tickets are $12.99 and children over 5 are $6.99. You can often find cashback discounts (like Groupon) to this attraction as well.
Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
The Saint Augustine Lighthouse is one of the many things to do in St. Augustine with kids. Please note that people need to be 44 inches or taller to climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse. We have always wanted to visit this lighthouse, but due to the height requirements for climbing up, we waited until our daughter was a little older. It can be a little tiring, but the views from the top are pretty nice. Don’t forget to visit the restored Keeper’s House, as it is a great opportunity to show the kids how people lived long ago.
- Hours are 9 AM to 6 PM
- Admission is $12.95 per adult and $10.95 per child under 12. This gives you access to the Lighthouse, the restored Keeper’s House, nature trails and gift shop.
Visit the Old Jail
The Old Jail is a neat spot to visit in St. Augustine for kids. The Old Jail Museum showcases fascinating stories about individual inmates that once occupied the cells and the sheriffs (and their families) who lived just across the hall from them. Your tour guide is an “inmate” that will show you around the prisoner’s cells, collections of weapons, and the key sections of the jail. Tickets start at $13 for adults and $8 for children over 5. Buy tickets for the Old Jail here.
Visit the St. Augustine Distillery
While you may not think a distillery visit is up there among the best things to do in St. Augustine with kids, if you have older kids, they might actually find it interesting. The tour is completely free and offers tastings of rum, gin, tonic, and bourbon. Our tour guide explained how these spirits were made and the history behind the building itself. While the adults taste test, children have lemonade and water to sip on. The tour is about 20-30 minutes, which is a nice short time for everyone, but filled with fun for the adults!
St. Augustine Tours
The Old Town Trolley Tour is a great way to see St. Augustine with kids. If you are short on time and would like an overview of the city, or would like to use this as your mode of transportation, then this is the tour for you. It is a 70-minute tour that takes you to see 100 points of interest. The Old Town Trolley can also be used as a hop on/hop off way to get around the city, as it has 19 stops. Trolleys come by every 15-20 minutes, so you can listen to the tour and then hop on or off when you choose. It is also a scenic ride and entertaining enough for the entire family.
The Historic District is also where most of the tours start from. If you’re planning on a night out without the kids, check out the “dark side” by booking a pub crawl to learn about St. Augustine’s Haunts. During the day, there are even more things to do in St. Augustine with kids. Check out some options below:
Best Restaurants in St. Augustine
Choosing a great place to eat is always high on our travel list. We always try to make sure the restaurant is kid-friendly and has a local vibe to it. I highly recommend eating in the historic district if you are looking for the best places to eat in St. Augustine. Here are some of our favorites
For something different on our last trip, we stopped at this stationary food truck, Crave, right on the water. They had wraps, salads, bowls, smoothies, and plenty of options for the whole family. It was delicious, cheap, and quick. We loved that it had a large seated area with covered picnic tables next to the water.
Best Hotels in St. Augustine
If you are looking for where to stay in St. Augustine, there are plenty of options in the historic district or cheaper options just outside of the main area. We usually visit St. Augustine as a stop on a road trip out of Florida, and do not spend the night; however, we have stayed before. Depending on your budget, there are many hotels in the historic district if you’d like to be within walking distance. We opt to stay at a Marriott or Hilton just outside of the old city because we usually have a free hotel stay with points. Check out are some great places to stay in St. Augustine here.
- Villa 1565
- Conch House Marina Resort
- TRYP by Wyndham Sebastian
- St. George Inn
- Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront
St. Augustine Bed and Breakfast
You will be hard-pressed to find many bed and breakfasts that allow kids. If you’ve never stayed in one, I would highly recommend it. Some offer a buffet where you can come and go and others offer a
St. Augustine Beach
If you are looking for other things to do in St. Augustine with kids, you may want to check out the St. Augustine beaches. There are a few beaches located near the city; however, Anastasia State Park is closest to downtown St. Augustine.
What to Do Near St. Augustine with Kids
On our Southeast road trip, in addition to St. Augustine, we drove to Jacksonville and visited Fort Caroline (an early French fort) and the Kingsley Plantation. The kids had no idea that the French had small settlements here and we all enjoyed exploring the small fort.
The Kingsley Plantation and Fort Caroline are run by the National Park
The Kingsley Plantation
The Kingsley Plantation was a nice surprise. First of all, the drive into the plantation is simply gorgeous. You drive about a mile through a dirt road surrounded by huge trees draped with Spanish moss.
There is a free audio tour that you can check out at the visitor’s center and walk the grounds at your own pace. Here you can explore the farm, slave quarters, plantation house, barn, kitchen house, and interpretive garden.
Fort Caroline and Kingsley Plantation were a quick stop on our way to Atlanta. From there we visited Helen, hiked Tallulah Gorge, visited Greenville and our last stop was Charleston before driving back to Florida. If you are looking to add Jacksonville as a stop, check out these family-friendly ideas of fun things to do in Jacksonville.
St. Augustine is one of my favorite cities in the country. It is small, but it has history and character. There are so many places to visit while on a road trip in Florida, I hope you make St. Augustine one of them.
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