Mission of Nombre de Dios
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Photo of Nellie ©Marineland Dolphin Adventure
Castillo de San Marcos
Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
Memorial Presbyterian Church
St. Augustine Distillery
Villa Zorayda Museum
St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra On a Budget
On Florida's Historic Coast, some of the most memorable natural wonders, historic sites and family adventures are free (or nearly free).
It doesn’t take a fortune to experience the centuries-old city of St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, and the area’s 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. Before diving in, check out our top picks for budget-friendly attractions and activities.
Free Fun Along Florida’s Historic Coast
Just south of St. Augustine, take a free ferry ride to Fort Matanzas National Monument and tour the almost 300-year-old outpost. See the fort’s sleeping quarters, gun deck and observation deck, and explore the uninhabited barrier island it rests on. Admission is free. Then admire the divine side of St. Augustine with visits to historic churches including the Memorial Presbyterian Church (where famous Floridian Henry Flagler is buried), the Mission Nombre de Dios and the St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica.
Sample artisanal spirits at the St. Augustine Distillery and Museum, or try one of the daily tours and tastings at the San Sebastian Winery – both are free and within walking distance of the historic district. Time it right and enjoy the First Friday Art Walk, which departs from the San Sebastian Winery on a free trolley. Other free tours and events to seek out: the Second Saturday Pup Walk Historic Walking tour; the African American Heritage Tour (every Saturday); and the hoppin’ Uptown Saturday Night, with music and entertainment at the galleries and shops along San Marco Avenue open late the fourth Saturday of each month.
Beyond the historic city, find wallet-friendly fun as you go beach-hopping along the coast. And golf lovers shouldn’t miss a trip to Ponte Vedra to tour the Club House and visit the famous 17th island hole on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Top Things to Do for $10 or Less
You might be surprised how much vacation fun $10 or less (per adult) will get you. In St. Augustine, wander the city’s sprawling landmark fort – the Castillo de San Marcos – for a powerful sense of history and some of the most stunning water views in town. Then keep your camera handy for the Flagler College Legacy Tour, a stroll through Flagler’s opulent former resort (now a college). Then view antiquities in the Lightner Museum across the street before exploring other back-in-time attractions such as one of the exhibits at The Government House.
Some time-tested family favorites for all ages include the Old Jail, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, the Oldest Store Museum and Potter’s Wax Museum – all with admission prices around or under $10. To venture off the beaten path, see eye-opening exhibits at Spanish Military Hospital Museum or the Villa Zorayda Museum. Or get more historical perspective at the Old Florida Museum, where you can save with a family rate.
For some of the most spectacular views of nature, climb the St. Augustine Lighthouse. To keep it outdoors, head for the windswept Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine or the GTM Research Reserve in Ponte Vedra. The Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine is also a popular stop.
In Ponte Vedra, break from your golf game to have the ultimate movie experience: World Golf Village IMAX Theater is a perennial crowd-pleaser.
Affordable Places to Stay
Budget conscious travelers can find accommodation rates at under $100, and there are plenty of hot deals for mid-week, extended stay or vacation packages posted every day – check out hotel deals.
Be sure to ask about deals and reduced admission or accommodation rates for military, seniors and groups.