Founded in 1565, long before either Jamestown or Plymouth, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S. Located about 35 miles south of Jacksonville, St. Augustine boasts 42 miles of beaches, world-class art galleries, theater, music, and much more. Here are 3 unique things to do in St. Augustine, Florida.
Unique Things to do in St. Augustine, Florida
Brimming with history, St. Augustine invites you to wander its brick-lined streets. With distinctive European influences, centuries-old architecture, and hidden courtyards, it is undeniably quaint. The six million annual visitors to St. Augustine would likely wholeheartedly agree. Here are three unique things to do in St. Augustine.
The Pirate and Treasure Museum
Arr! With authentic pirate artifacts and pop culture memorabilia, there’s something for everyone here. Located in downtown St. Augustine, the museum is the brainchild of pirate scholar Pat Croce, a long-time collector. Carefully authenticated, his pirate collection is considered one of the largest in the world. And yes, there are real gold doubloons!
One popular exhibit features a Disney-designed, and decidedly creepy, talking Blackbeard.
Another interactive exhibit strives to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of the Port Royal, Jamaica, of 300 years ago. Walk the cobblestones, smell the tobacco and rum, hear the birds squawk. Fire a cannon and feel the ship’s deck shake under your feet. The replications and reproductions give you that being there experience.
Step away from the history and into the imaginative Hollywood-inspired world of pirate lore. Discover Errol Flynn’s jacket from the 1935 movie, Captain Blood, and Captain Jack Sparrow’s sword from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Visit the Castillo de San Marcos
The oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S., this massive structure was built by the Spanish. They had gone through NINE wooden forts on the same site, all being destroyed through fire, rot, termites, or storms. It finally occurred to them to build something stronger, hence, the Castillo.
When the British attacked again, they burned St. Augustine, but the Castillo easily withstood their assault, as well as other attacks over the years. Today, it is a beautiful place to visit. Well-maintained by the park service, you can easily see most of it in an hour or two. They have reenactments to watch, such as the cannon-firing demonstration. There is a drawbridge and a dry moat, but alas, no alligators.
St. Augustine Distillery
This family-owned and operated distillery burst out of the gates in 2013 and has never looked back. With hand-crafted bourbons and other spirits, the distillery prides itself on partnerships with local farmers for its fresh and sustainable ingredients.
Their home is the former FP&L ice plant building from 1907, which the owners painstakingly restored, earning several preservation awards in the process. They created a state-of-the-art facility while honoring its ice plant heritage. Not an easy feat.
Take one of their free daily tours, and learn their process from farm to bottle. It should come as no surprise that the St. Augustine Distillery is the most-toured distillery in the U.S.
More Fun and Unique Things to do in or near St. Augustine
If you’re still looking for more unique things to do in St. Augustine, try one of these!
- Stroll down Treasure Street. At just under seven feet, it is the narrowest street in the U.S. It was designed that way on purpose for protection against pirates.
- Tour the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in the U.S. Built in the early 1700s, you can find it on St. George St, by the City Gate. More into here.
- Try the Old Town Trolley tour. A fun way to explore and learn A LOT about St. Augustine. Get on and off all day long. Well worth the cost. Get tickets here.
- Take a sip of water at the Fountain of Youth. A natural spring that some say is linked to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. More info here.
- Enjoy the Corks and Forks Strolling Tour. Three hours of foodie bliss on this award-winning tasting tour. More info here.
Visiting St. Augustine—Final Thoughts
A city filled with old-world charm, St. Augustine has so much to offer. Whether shopping its eclectic boutiques, exploring the vibrant nightlife scene, or just sipping tea watching the people go by, it’s definitely a place to make memories.
M.R. Smith is a freelance writer living in the Rocky Mountain West. With a Master’s degree in professional writing, M.R. is also a teacher, author, and poet.
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