It would be difficult to find a visitor to St. Augustine who hasn’t spent hours exploring the shopping, attractions and restaurants along King Street, the main east-west street running from the bayfront. But what few realize is that West King Street begins just across U.S. 1 and it offers its own special vibe with unusual and outstanding shops and dining.
It’s not far – once you get there, turn around and look toward downtown and you’ll have an unobstructed view of the famous Casa Monica Resort & Spa. It’s more than worth the short walk from King Street. Or, if you drive, you’ll find one of the rarest of St. Augustine attractions – a large lot where the parking is….free! (Please don’t tell anyone. It’s one of the city’s most closely guarded secrets.)
What is This Place?
The four-block retail section of West King Street is – well, it’s difficult to describe in one word. Eclectic…exotic…different…youthful…yes, these all work, but it’s more than any or all of those words.
The architecture harkens back to the early 1900s when this street was the commercial center for St. Augustinians who worked at the large hotels a few blocks away or at the nearby railyard. In fact, there was once a trolley line that ran down the middle of the street to carry workers to and from their jobs.
Today, the street is lined with shops and restaurants that offer the unusual...and the unexpected. In fact, it may be the only place in America where you can take a short walk, have a fabulous vegan meal, get a spiffy new tattoo and adopt a homeless kitten all in one afternoon.
West King Wednesday: If you happen to be in St. Augustine on the third Wednesday of any month, you can soak up the full West King Street experience at a monthly event called West King Wednesday. From 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., the street features artists, live music, dining and shopping specials and the occasional fortune teller/psychic/tarot card reader. Fun for all!
OK, let’s explore West King Street:
The Local Refillery (215 W. King): You can’t get more eco-friendly than this shop – customers are encouraged to bring their own containers for refills of a wide range of products. There’s olive oils, teas and spices, earth-based foods, CBD products…and much more! (Ask about their locally-sourced CBD products custom designed for first responders…and dogs!)
Vintage Chic Furniture (230 W. King): This creative, eclectic store features great home décor and art – much of it transformed from vintage furniture. The owner even has DIY YouTube segments showing viewers how they too can create cool stuff from things that just seem “old.” On most Saturdays, the store is also home to Feline Fairies, a cat rescue organization that offers homeless kittens for adoption.
Sailors Exchange (222 W. King): OK, maybe you haven’t been shipwrecked in St. Augustine and need parts to get underway, but that’s no reason to walk past this great store. It is fascinating to visit and there’s a good chance you’ll find something to impress your land-locked neighbors back in Kansas. Rigging, charts, anchors, gauges, lights and so much more – most of it used and all of it authentic. The store is buy-sell-or trade so the inventory is an amazing collection of seafaring gear.
Stay True Tattoo (199 W. King): This tattoo shop is upscale, creative and well-known among tattoo aficionados. Perfect if you’d like a permanent reminder of your visit to St. Augustine.
Dining and Drinking
Buena Onda (224 W. King): This family-owned café specializes in made-from-scratch vegan and vegetarian breakfast and lunch items. Try their plant-powered lattes, espresso drinks, coffees, teas and house drinks including ginger-mint lemonade. Also has homemade baked goods and a micro market offering everything from trucker hats to herbal supplements. Free parking in the rear. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Murf’s Homestyle to Go (6 Mackey Lane): Located next door to Bakersville Bread Company, this homestyle establishment offers tasty Southern home cooking just like grandma used to make. Meatloaf, baked chicken, pork chops, collards, black-eyed peas, mac-n-cheese, grits, fried okra and more with all the fixin’s (vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options available). This is carry-out only so call ahead or walk up and order. Open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The Bog Brewery Company (218 W. King): Outstanding selection of craft beers, IPAs and seasonal brews served in an historic building with a classy interior. These Florida brews are created with European inspiration. The constantly rotating draft list ensures new beers and new experiences with every visit. Hours Monday – Wednesday noon – 10 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday noon-midnight; and Sunday noon – 10 p.m.
Taco’s My Blessing (218 W. King): Located behind The Bog Brewery, this family-owned, permanently-parked food truck has a mouth-watering selection of authentic Mexican street cuisine. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, chalupas and more including pambazo – a chorizo, potato and cheese sandwich fried in guajillo sauce. Outdoor patio for relaxing dining. Open noon – 7 p.m.
Maestro Winery (213 W. King): This boutique winery offers unique award-winning wines inspired by art. It successfully combines the visual and performing arts with the craft wine experience. Maestro’s wines include seasonally-named strawberry and cranberry and musically-inspired legato, staccato and Maestro’s red and white. Tastings for only $5 on West King Wednesdays. Live musical performances and painting classes coming soon! Open Wednesday-Friday, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday 1-9 p.m.; and Sunday 1-6 p.m.
Sweet City Cupcakes (233 W. King): Walking along West King on a Friday or Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., then stop in for delicious cupcakes including vegan and gluten-free.