The Point at Vilano Beach
Carriage ride through downtown St. Augustine
Photo of Nellie ©Marineland Dolphin Adventure
Castillo Cannon Firing
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Plan the Ultimate Family Vacation
Children and adults have plenty of things to do in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra.
For families looking for a vacation destination to please all ages, the area in and around St. Augustine on Florida’s Historic Coast is an ideal fit. These tips will make planning a fabulous family trip a breeze — complete with family-focused activities, kid-friendly accommodations and delicious food for even the pickiest of palates.
Get your fill of surf and sun at beautiful St. Augustine beaches. The serenity of Vilano Beach is an escape from busier locales — Drum Man Charters depart from Conch House Marina and Camachee Cove. Take advantage of St. Augustine Beach on Anastasia Island for white sands and amenities such as a playground, volleyball and St. Johns County Pier — the site of the Music by the Sea summer concert series.
Scenic and unspoiled Crescent Beach offers boating, diving and fishing, while Anastasia State Park is known for recreation like swimming, hiking and camping — along with several miles of sand dune-bordered beach. Utilize the sea breezes for kite flying or take to the water to kayak St. Augustine with St. Augustine Eco Tours or Ripple Effect Ecotours. The outfitters provide a family-friendly beginner eco tour of the area by kayak.
To encounter the area’s native animals, pay a visit to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. The Crocodile Crossing features two thrilling zipline courses that let you soar among tropical birds and lemurs over crocs and gators in the waters below. Wildlife shows and exhibits educate kids about numerous species ranging from pythons to exotic mammals. At the southern end of St. Augustine, the Marineland Dolphin Adventure lets visitors view and even swim with dolphins.
A visit to America’s oldest city wouldn’t be complete without a look back in time. Live the history at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a masonry fort that dates back to 1672. With a self-guided program, explore the ins and outs — like living quarters and the gun deck — while costumed re-enactors fire cannons.
Tour the St. Augustine Old Jail that operated from 1891 to 1953 in a building designed to look like a Victorian house. Nearby, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park features the infamous natural spring of lore, a re-created Timucuan village, Spanish watchtower, planetarium and more. Ascend the 219 steps of the St. Augustine Lighthouse for expansive views, and don’t miss the maritime archaeological discoveries in the museum.
Where to Stay
One of the top accommodation choices in the area is the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, which was voted America’s Best Family Hotel in 2013 by Travel Leisure readers. Lawn games, arts and crafts, a waterslide and playground are just a few of the seemingly endless kid-friendly amenities you’ll find. The resort offers vacation packages with themes ranging from Family Golf to Fun in the Sun.
For families that want to be able to keep snacks on hand, or even cook full meals, there are plenty of options with this flexibility. The Saint Augustine Beach House is a hotel with rooms that include a well-equipped kitchenette, complimentary breakfast and an additional sleeper sofa, perfect for families of four. For a full condo experience, look to the Ocean Village Club with its one- and two-bedroom units (equipped with a washer and dryer and some approved for pets too), two outdoor pools, shuffleboard courts and a picnic area with grills.
When it’s time for a family meal, head to the Sunset Grille for lunch or dinner and enjoy fresh seafood, views from the second-floor deck and a kids’ menu to boot. Barnacle Bill’s Seafood Restaurant is also known for its ocean-focused menu, and little ones can chow down on fried shrimp, mac and cheese or a burger. Jaybird’s Restaurant is a hit for classic American fare; pizza cravings can be met at the Mellow Mushroom. Finish off the day with a sweet treat at one of the ice cream shops in Old Town.
Find offers to help plan your family getaway in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine beaches here.