St. Augustine is considered the oldest city in the U.S., yet it often does not get the credit it deserves. It’s uniqueness as a Spanish colonial town is evident in its’ architecture around the historic district. 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. We have visited St. Augustine with kids four times and still have not explored the entire city. If your family enjoys some history, then visiting St. Augustine with kids should be on your family bucket list. Check out these ideas about 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 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. It is here 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.
Castillo San Marcos
Among the best things to do in St. Augustine with kids is to visit the Castillo San Marcos. 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. All you need to do is print out a pass on your computer before you get there. Click here to get your Every Kid in a Park pass.
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!
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
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. Check out what there is to do in the picture below or buy tickets here.
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.
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. Check out some of the St. Augustine tours offered on Viator or click below to see the best selling tours in St. Augustine.
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
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 but have stayed here once with the kids. We opted to stay at a Marriott just outside of the old city because we had a free hotel stay with points. Check out are some great places to stay in St. Augustine here.
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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