Northeastern Florida’s St. Augustine is claimed as the country’s oldest city, featuring historic buildings and unparalleled coastal beauty. Museums, wildlife, and pirate-themed adventures top the list of attractions in this Floridan city. Settle into one of many incredible St. Augustine vacation rentals, and embark on an exciting adventure and become immersed in a quintessential part of American history.

St. Augustine Lighthouse
Source: Flickr/Doug Kerr

1. Have a Dolphin Adventure

Marineland Dolphin Adventure was originally designed as a place for filmmakers to shoot underwater footage and was called Marine Studios. Now part of the Georgia Aquarium, the facility focuses on educating and inspiring visitors by helping them connect with aquatic life. Check out the sea turtles, sand tiger sharks, and dolphins. You can also book a dolphin encounter.

2. Experience Victorian Life

A stop at the Lightner Museum gives you a glimpse of Victorian life through assorted artifacts and artwork. Some of the artifacts are quite unique, such as human hair, shrunken heads, and salt and pepper shakers. The historic former Hotel Alcazar houses the museum inside its beautiful Spanish Renaissance Revival-style architecture with four floors of exhibit space to explore.

3. Explore a Lighthouse

Learn about life on the sea at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. Completed in 1874, the lighthouse stands 165 feet tall and is the oldest brick structure in the city. Climb the 219 steps to reach the top for spectacular views. Explore the museum to see artifacts from shipwrecks and other maritime items.

4. Search for Treasure and Pirate Artifacts

Imagine life as a pirate with a stop at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. A central room in the museum makes you feel like you’re aboard a pirate ship, complete with cannons and other ship gear. Displays throughout the museum show historic pirate artifacts, including a 17th-century Jolly Roger flag and the world’s oldest “wanted” poster. The museum features lots of interactive exhibits and a free guided tour.

5. Take a Sweet Tour

If you’re a chocolate lover, add the Whetstone Chocolate Factory tasting tour to your list of things to do in St. Augustine. The tour takes you through the facility, where you can see chocolate being made. You also learn more about chocolate and how to properly taste it. Pick up extra chocolate in the store at the end of the tour.

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6. Explore Your Wild Side

St. Augustine Wild Reserve cares for wild animals originally kept as pets. Tigers, bears, lions, wolves, coatis, and other animals get the care they need in appropriate habitats at the reserve. The small wildlife reserve offers two-hour guided tours by appointment only, so plan ahead if you want to see these rescued animals in their new habitats.

7. Tour a Distillery

Step inside the renovated ice manufacturing plant that now houses the St. Augustine Distillery for a unique tour. The company makes small-batch spirits, which you can watch being made during the tour. An on-site tasting room gives you a chance to sample the vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey produced in the facility.

8. Ride the Black Raven

Pirate-themed attractions are popular in St. Augustine. The Pirate Ship Black Raven offers an interactive experience for people of all ages. Afternoon and evening voyages take you out on the water on the vessel designed to look like a pirate ship. Costumed crew members lead the rousing activities, including sword fights, cannons firing, and other pirate-themed activities.

9. Take a Swing at Golf History

St. Augustine serves as home to the World Golf Hall of Fame, where displays honor golfers with exhibits covering 35,000 square feet. Learn about the history of the sport, clothing, equipment, and golf course design. There’s even an 18-hole golf course at the museum if you’re a golfer.

10. See the Full Range of Crocodilians

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park houses every crocodilian species still alive. You can also see birds, lemurs, reptiles, and other animals at this accredited zoo. See the park from a different perspective on the Crocodile Crossing zip line and challenge course. The two different courses feature more than 50 obstacles. Check out the various shows throughout the day for additional fun.

11. Spend Time in Jail

Follow your tour guide through Old Jail Museum to see one of the city’s former jails. Built in 1891, the jail building features a Romanesque Revival architecture style, so it blends in with the existing buildings in the area. Guides dress in period clothing to set the tone and provide information on how the prison worked and how prisoners were treated when it was in operation.

12. Get Close to Your Favorite Celebs

St. Augustine’s Potter’s Wax Museum is the first established wax museum in the U.S., so it’s a historic stop in addition to being a fun way to “see” your favorite celebrities. The lifelike wax creations resemble a number of famous people, including actors, athletes, and politicians. Take your photo with your favorites.

13. See If You Believe It

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! serves up a variety of things to do in St. Augustine. Visit the Odditorium in its historic castle location to see over 800 exhibits, including pieces from Robert Ripley’s original collection. To see the city, hop on the Ripley’s Red Train, a motorized vehicle that runs on regular wheels but looks like a train. The Ghost Train Adventure is a paranormal option for the daring.

14. Ride the Trolley

Old Town Trolley Tours takes you on a St. Augustine adventure inside a unique open-air trolley. Several trolleys run through the city with 23 stops, so you can always get on or off close to your favorite attractions. It’s a great way to get a feel for the city and get from one activity to the next.

15. Delve Into History

A 1798 coquina stone merchant’s home serves as the location for the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum. The home has been authentically restored to reflect its days as a boarding house in the 1800s when Florida first saw a huge boost in tourism. Take a guided tour of the home to hear stories from those visitors, and learn about that time in St. Augustine’s history.

 
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