St. Augustine (/ˈɔːɡəstiːn/ AW-gə-steen; Spanish: San Agustín [san aɣusˈtin]) is a city in and the county seat of St. Johns County located 40 miles (64 km) south of downtown Jacksonville. The city is on the Atlantic coast of northeastern Florida. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in what is now the contiguous United States.
St. Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565, by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor. He named the settlement San Agustín, for his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land in Florida eleven days earlier on August 28, the feast day of St. Augustine. The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years. It was designated as the capital of British East Florida when the colony was established in 1763; Great Britain returned Florida to Spain in 1783.
Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, and St. Augustine was designated the capital of the Florida Territory upon ratification of the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1821. The Florida National Guard made the city its headquarters that same year. The territorial government moved and made Tallahassee the capital of Florida in 1824.
St. Augustine is part of Florida’s First Coast region and the Jacksonville metropolitan area. Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine’s distinctive historical character has made the city a tourist attraction. Castillo de San Marcos, the city’s 17th-century Spanish fort—constructed out of the sedimentary rock coquina—continues to attract tourists.
The activities are educational (St. Augustine Lighthouse), the wild (Alligator Farm), the natural (Anastasia Island State Park), and the paranormal (ghost tours).
Free Things to Do
This coastal community is rich in flora and fauna that can be experienced from the seat of a bicycle, atop a paddleboard, and at the helm of a sailboat.
From the cobblestones of historic St. George Street to Ponte Vedra Beach’s upscale vibe.
The local cuisine reflects the coastal location (fresh seafood) and centuries of culture (Datil peppers).
Places To Stay
Stay in town and walk everywhere you go.
Hotels to B&Bs
Rooms with a View
The greatest champions are celebrated here. One of the greatest golf holes is played here.
World Golf Hall of Fame
Major roadways, St. Augustine and vicinity
Interstate 95 runs north–south.
U.S. Route 1 runs north–south.
State Road A1A runs north–south.
State Road 16 runs east–west
State Road 207 runs northeast–southwest
State Road 312 runs east–west
Bus service is operated by the Sunshine Bus Company, based in St. Augustine Beach. Buses operate mainly between shopping centers across town, but a few go to Hastings and Jacksonville, where one can connect to JTA for additional service across Jacksonville.
Main article: Northeast Florida Regional Airport
St. Augustine has one public airport 4 miles (6.4 km) north of the downtown. It has three runways and two seaplane lanes.
9 Things to Do in St. Augustine
- St. Augustine’s original stone defences
Castillo de San Marcos, the United States’ oldest stone fort – and North America’s only remaining 17th-century example – was used by the Spanish to guard their first settlement at St. Augustine.
This nationally recognised monument sits alongside the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in Matanzas Bay. There are reconstructions of walls that once defended St. Augustine, and plenty of insight into its history – but the expansive green grounds, and city and sea views, also make this a welcome escape for a breather.
Location: 1 S Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA
Open: +1 904-829-6506
Phone: Daily from 8.45am to 5.15pm
Anastasia State Park – A natural wildlife habitat with a dose of history
A 15-minute drive from St. Augustine proper, Anastasia State Park offers something different by way of a beautifully preserved, wildlife-rich coastal reserve.
At the same time, the likes of heritage sand dunes – and Spanish-era quarries used to extract the coquina limestone that enabled the construction of St. Augustine and its famous fort – mean that this state park has enough to compete with the city itself in the history stakes. Hiking, kayaking and swimming are all possible, and there’s a large campsite, too.
Location: 300 Anastasia Park Rd, St. Augustine, FL 32080, USA
Open: Daily from 8 am to sundown
Phone: +1 904-461-2033
- St. Augustine Beach- Then feast on the city’s plentiful seafood
It wouldn’t be Florida without a trip to the beach, and St. Augustine doesn’t disappoint. Beside the North Atlantic, the barren dunes and gorgeous white sand of St. Augustine Beach – a city in its own right – are less than a 15-minute drive from downtown St. Augustine.
Take a refreshing dip in the water, top up your tan on the beach, and then head to the Salt Life Food Shack for no-fuss dishes that let the locally sourced seafood do the talking.
Location: A1A Beach Blvd, St. Augustine Beach, FL 32080, USA
- Plaza de la Constitucion- Get a glimpse of history
There’s arguably no better place to begin a tour of St. Augustine than the historical square of Plaza de la Constitucion. Sitting on this same green spot since the Spanish colonial era in 1573, the park is framed by other iconic attractions such as the city’s cathedral, Government House, and the Trinity Episcopal parish church.
All of these make it a great spot from which to get an appreciation of just how old St. Augustine really is. Expect seasonal concerts, markets, and other events taking place here.
Location: 170 St George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA
- Oldest Wooden School House – Take a glimpse at this hand-constructed educational relic
St. Augustine seemingly has an ‘America’s oldest ever’ structure of every possible type. Plaza de la Constitucion is the United States’ oldest public space, Castillo de San Marcos is its oldest stone fort – and this is, as the name suggests, the oldest wooden school house you’ll find on these fair shores.
It’s even more remarkable for having been entirely hand-built out of painstakingly nailed-together red cypress and cedarwood. Wander through the downstairs classroom that offers a glimpse of yesteryear’s students, and the schoolmaster’s living quarters overhead.
Location: 14 St George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA
Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm (Fridays and Saturdays until 8 pm)
Phone: +1 888-653-7245
- Colonial Quarter- St. Augustine as it was for Spanish-era residents
Since the Spanish founded St. Augustine in 1565, it’s passed through British hands, back to Spain’s control, and finally to the US in 1819. The Colonial Quarter serves as a living museum depicting the life of inhabitants of the first period of Spanish control in the 1740s.
There are historical buildings to explore, a 35-foot replica Spanish watchtower from which to take in views of the main St. George Street thoroughfare, and boutiques selling keepsakes that speak of times gone by.
Location: 43 St George St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA
Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm
Phone: +1 888-991-0933
Catch 27- The day’s fish haul with on-trend cocktails
It’s almost a sin to come to this part of the world and not indulge in its bounty of seafood. Among numerous reputed local restaurants, Catch 27 is a three-minute stroll from the heart of the city’s colonial quarter.
This trendy, modern spot puts the day’s catch at the heart of the action, so you’ll be eating whatever that’s found its way onto the boats. Alongside creative serves of fish, prawns and clams, there are craft beers, wines, and innovative cocktails.
Location: 40 Charlotte St, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA
Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 9 pm (Fridays and Saturdays until 10 pm)
Phone: +1 904-217-3542
St. Augustine Amphitheater – Cultural performances in an evocative open-air venue
When darkness falls, what better way to carry on soaking up St. Augustine’s distinctive vibe than to head outside and take in a performance at the city’s al fresco amphitheatre?
The 4,000-seater venue is located a 10-minute drive out of the city centre, and puts on regular circus performances, concerts, and more. Evening entertainment aside, the St. Augustine Amphitheater is a community hub, playing host to weekend farmers’ markets.
Location: 1340C A1A S, St. Augustine, FL 32080, USA
Phone: +1 904-209-0367
Ancient City Brewing Taproom -Locally brewed ales and a lively pub vibe
Mingle with St. Augustine’s locals and discover the city’s other culinary passion besides seafood – its love of locally produced craft beer – at the Ancient City Brewing taproom.
For the widest selection of over 20 beers on tap you’ll want to head to the original brewhouse that’s a 15-minute drive outside of the city centre. The smaller-scale taproom right in the heart of downtown St. Augustine still has 10 varieties on rotation. There’s a friendly, lively atmosphere that goes with the diverse range of speciality ales.
Location: 18 Cathedral Pl, St. Augustine, FL 32084, USA
Open: Daily from 11 am to 10 pm (Thursdays until 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays until midnight)
Phone: +1 904-429-9654
Where To Stay in St. Augustine, Florida
- La Fiesta Ocean Inn & Suites
- Centennial House
- Spanish Street Inn
- The Ocean Gallery
- Beacher’s Lodge Oceanfront Suites
- Summerhouse Beach and Racquet Club
- Tranquil Dunes Vacation Rental
- Beachfront Bed & Breakfast
- Bayfront Marin House Inn
- St. George Inn
- Carriage Way Inn Bed & Breakfast
- Sea Turtle Cottage
Where To Eat in St. Augustine, Florida
- Namaste Indian Tandoori Food
- Spanish Bakery & Cafe
- Raintree Restaurant
Best Hotels in St. Augustine
- The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens
- World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort
- Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection
Best Things to Do in St. Augustine
- St. George Street
- Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
- Colonial Quarter
Best Months to Visit
The best time to visit St. Augustine is between March and May. During this time, you’ll find fewer people, comfortable temperatures and low hotel and airfare rates. Crowds are typically at their largest from June to August, while temperatures can drop into the 40s between December and February. You’ll also enjoy favorable temperatures and score accommodation deals from September to November, though these months fall within the Atlantic hurricane season, which starts in June and lasts until the end of November.
A visit between March and May (St. Augustine’s spring season) means you’ll escape Florida’s extreme humidity without encountering the area’s chilliest temperatures. However, average temperatures can hover between the 50s and 60s at times, so bring a jacket. You won’t encounter as many rain showers during the spring as you will in the summer, but you’ll still want to pack an umbrella as a precaution.
St. Augustine’s crowds and prices swell during the summer months. Families flock to the region once school is out, so book your flights and hotels well in advance. You’ll also experience more rain and humidity at this time, so drink plenty of water to combat heat stroke and pack sunscreen and an umbrella. Average summer temperatures range from the low 70s to the low 90s.
Between the autumn months of September and November, temperatures range between the high 50s and high 80s. Though you’ll typically find little rain by the end of the season, these months fall within the area’s hurricane season, meaning you could encounter a hurricane during your trip. To avoid penalties for hurricane-related trip changes or cancelations, consider booking refundable airfare and accommodations or purcashing travel insurance.
If you’re willing to brave St. Augustine’s coolest temperatures, you’ll find few people and many winter vacation deals. It’s highly unlikely you’ll see snow when visiting from December to February, but winter temperatures fluctuate from the mid-40s to the low 70s, so pack accordingly. Annual rainfall is at its lowest around this time, so you likely won’t need an umbrella.
How to Save Money in St. Augustine
Book a trolley tour package For three days of trolley rides and access to popular attractions like the Old Jail, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and the Lightner Museum, purchase one of Old Town Trolley Tours’ sightseeing packages. You can save as much as around $10 per person, depending on the package you book.
Visit in the spring St. Augustine’s peak season is from June to August. To avoid the summer season’s high prices and crowds without sacrificing on weather, plan your visit between March and May.
Consider driving to and from the airport Though you’ll find it easy to get around St. Augustine on foot, via a trolley tour or by bus, the closest major airport – Jacksonville International Airport – sits more than 50 miles away. Since public transportation between St. Augustine and the airport is not available, renting a car on arrival and departure days will help you avoid high transportation costs.
What You Need to Know
Like other historic American destinations, St. Augustine is filled with cobblestone streets, so plan to pack comfortable walking shoes. You’ll also want to bring a light jacket if you visit during winter or sunscreen and an umbrella if your trip falls between June and November – the Atlantic hurricane season.
Bring an extra bag
Whether you plan on buying a few items at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets or antiques and homemade souvenirs on St. George Street, you’ll want space to store your goods.
Bed down in central St. Augustine
If you want to stay near the bulk of St. Augustine’s attractions, book a hotel in Old Town or the Spanish Quarter. Depending on where you hang your hat, you’ll be within steps of St. George Street’s shops and sights like the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
Getting Around St. Augustine
The best way to get around St. Augustine is on foot and by trolley. Most of St. Augustine’s top attractions are located within the town’s historic downtown, while other sights like the Old Jail and Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park can be reached by the local sightseeing trolley. To get to and from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), the area’s closest major airport, visitors can drive or take a taxi. The Northeast Florida Regional Airport (UST) is a closer option, about 5 miles north of the city, but offers very limited flight options through just a few lesser-known carriers. The city’s Sunshine Bus Company can be used for half of the journey, but travelers will need to use two or more Jacksonville Transportation Authority buses for the other part of their trip. The Sunshine Bus Co. can also be used to get around central St. Augustine. Driving within St. Augustine is not recommended due to limited street parking.