Sasha Wortzel: Dreams of Unknown Islands: St. Augustine
Dreams of Unknown Islands: Saint Augustine is a multisensory exhibition of work by New York-based visual artist and filmmaker Sasha…
On Florida’s Historic Coast, some of the most memorable natural wonders, historic sites and family adventures are free (or nearly free).
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It would take several days to experience all the free attractions here. Plus, there’s a ton of fun to be enjoyed for just $12 or less per person. Here are the best free activities, attractions, and tours on Florida’s Historic Coast.
Hours of operation for attractions and events may have changed. Please check with individual entities to confirm details before making your plans.
St. George Street is the heart of St. Augustine, lined with quaint shops, cozy bistros, art galleries, and gift shops. This pedestrians-only street gives you a feel for what life was like when the Old City was first settled, but it’s only the beginning. Explore what’s off the main drag of St. George Street when visiting St. Augustine.
More than 42 miles of white sandy shores line St. Augustine and its surrounding areas. A favorite is St. Augustine Beach, thanks to its laid-back feel, impressive fishing pier, and nearby beachside restaurants.
Take the free ferry to Rattlesnake Island and explore Fort Matanzas, a fortified watchtower built by the Spanish in 1740 to guard the southern entrance to St. Augustine. Admission to the park at Fort Matanzas National Monument and the ferry ride are free. Please check their website for hours of operation or updates on the ferry to Fort Matanzas.
Fort Mose Historic State Park is the first free African settlement in North America. The original fort is no longer there, but the site and visitor center memorialize slaves who fled the American colonies. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, park admission is free and museum admission is only $2.
As the residence of Florida’s Spanish and English colonial governors, the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum has hosted many visitors, including two Kings of Spain. A lobby exhibit explains the rich history of St. Augustine –the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlement in the United States. This free attraction is open to the public daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tour the many impressive and historical churches throughout the area including Memorial Presbyterian Church, built by Henry Flagler as a memorial to his daughter, Mission Nombre de Dios, and St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica. Check church schedules for tour days and times.
This shrine honors the 1768 arrival of the first Greek settlers in America. Admission to the shrine is free and includes tours of the museum and the beautiful chapel filled with Byzantine-style icons and frescoes. Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday – Saturday and noon–6 p.m. Sunday.
Mission Nombre de Dios Museum is located on the mission grounds and tells the story of the early days of Catholicism in what would become the United States. Admission is free. Nearby, the Great Cross (the tallest free-standing cross in the Western Hemisphere) marks both the landing point of the Spanish colonists in 1565 and the site of the first Catholic mass in the United States. The impressive La Leche Chapel is a short walk away. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday – Saturday and Sunday noon–4 p.m.
Project SWING Playground features wooden towers, a lighthouse, space shuttle, and picnic area. The park is open daily until 7 p.m. and conveniently located behind the Historic Downtown Parking facility.
The Splash Park at the County Ocean Pier offers a delightful diversion for small children to stay cool and active! The park is open daily until dusk and occasionally closes on cooler days when the temperature dips below 70 degrees. Be sure to check out the St. Johns County Ocean Pier nearby, admission is $2 per person for sightseeing and $6 for non-residents that would like to fish. Splash Park and beach access are free.
This micro distillery crafts moonshine, vodka, rum and whisky inspired by the flavors of Florida. Enjoy a free tasting seven days a week until 7 p.m. as you take in the incredible bayfront view.
San Sebastian Winery offers free tours and daily tastings of their superb wines. Open Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The St. Augustine Distillery offers free tours and daily tastings of their award-winning vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey. Open daily from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Many of St. Augustine’s oldest structures are built with coquina blocks. Visit the namesake quarry for this special building material and explore Coquina Quarry on a self-guided tour.
The TPC Clubhouse is the Mediterranean-style centerpiece of TPC Sawgrass, providing PGA Tour-standard hospitality to members and visitors alike, with free daily tours available to the public. Golf lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the famous 17th island hole on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
One of the nation’s 29 special estuarine research areas, the GTM Research Reserve begins in the north at Ponte Vedra and continues south for 40 miles to Marineland. The reserve’s 74,000 acres include salt marshes and a maritime hammock perfect for exploring, hiking, or launching boats and kayaks. The impressive Visitor Center offers life-size replicas of key fish and wildlife living in the estuary. Open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
One of the best ways to enjoy the ancient city is by walking along its brick-lined streets. The Bridge of Lions, the bay front and the grounds of the Castillo de San Marcos are Instagram-worthy spots that will make your friends green with envy.
Have a picnic on the Castillo de San Marcos Fort green. This area is perfect for kiddos to get their wiggles out by rolling down grass hills or just soaking up some Florida sunshine.
Explore the Father Miguel O’Reilly House Museum to learn about St. Augustine's rich and unbroken Catholic traditions dating back to 1565. Located south of the Plaza at 32 Aviles Street, in the oldest continuously settled section of the city of St. Augustine, the museum is open free of charge from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday- Saturday. The Museum is closed on days of inclement weather.
Did you know St. Johns County offers so many ways to enjoy the outdoors? No matter what kind of outdoor activities you want to pursue, from hiking to pickleball to picnicking, there’s a county park with your name on it. Historic Alpine Groves Park on the St. Johns River is a special place to take in scenic beauty. While Treaty Park is a sport’s lover’s dream with a skate park, basketball, tennis, pickleball and racquetball courts. You can also bring your pet to the dog park and there is a handicap accessible playscape. Check out Canopy Shores with its majestic canopy of oak trees, Nocatee Preserve offering 3+ miles of unpaved trails, Vaill Point Park, a nature wonderland on the Intracoastal, and Cora C. Harrison Preserve that features a trailhead with restroom, parking and picnic area.
A beautiful cemetery located in the Ancient City, this was the first cemetery in St. Augustine dedicated for Anglo-American civilians. The Huguenot Cemetery was a Protestant burial ground from 1821-1884. Tours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month, admission is free, and donations are encouraged.
Ready to go exploring? Love rocks? Just south of the famous Marineland Dolphin Adventure attraction featuring dolphins, sharks and tortoises, look for a parking lot and boardwalk on the oceanside. Head south on the boardwalk and you’ll come upon one of the most amazing rock formations on the Florida coastline. Bring your camera to this photographer’s paradise and capture the sunrise over the rocks and water.
There’s nothing like a casual walk along a bridge, especially at sunset. While beautiful all over Florida’s Historic Coast, they’re extra special on the Vilano Bridge as you overlook the Matanzas Bay. Look for dolphin! And be sure to grab a selfie with the local icon on the Vilano Beach Pier, the Bluebird of Happiness.
From the golf mecca of Ponte Vedra Beach to the historic shores of Marineland, this officially designated All American Scenic And Historic Byway is not to be missed. Just hop in a car and take your time traveling through this remarkable road snaking through state parks, the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, National Monuments, beaches, nature trails, preserves, estuaries and all kinds of history. You’ll definitely want to stop along the way for some memorable times and photos.
Please call and confirm events before driving long distances as some dates and times could vary.
This free weekly concert series at St. Johns County Ocean Pier Park features a variety of musical genres from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays May through September. Bring a beach chair or blanket and, starting at 6 p.m. Food trucks are on-site. Concert-goers are encouraged to carpool.
From 7-9 p.m. on Thursday nights from June through August, Concerts in the Plaza offer free live music under the oak trees in St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitución. Bring a chair or blanket for seating and check the event website for the entertainment schedule.
On the first Friday of each month from 5-9 p.m. The Art Galleries of St. Augustine feature new exhibits, refreshments, and live music at more than 20 locations. The event is held rain or shine inside member galleries and is a free, self-guided walking tour with maps available at participating galleries.
On the first Saturday of each month from 9-11:30 a.m. visit Fort Mose to be transported back to the 18th century as members of the Fort Mose Militia practice firing drills and demonstrate how to use historic weapons. The park is open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission to the park is free and admission to the Visitor Center is $2 per person.
There are several open markets taking place on Florida’s Historic Coast each week. Attending the markets is free and a great way to shop local produce and to see the talents and work of local artisans and crafters. Weekly markets take place on Wednesdays at St. Augustine Beach Ocean Pier Park and Saturday mornings at the The St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The Nocatee Farmers Market and Vilano Beach Artisans Market Walk take place every third Saturday and Coconut Barrel's Night Market takes place every third Thursday evening.
On the third Saturday of the month, Tolomato Cemetery Guided Tours will take you through the oldest extant planned cemetery in Florida, with burials from the First Spanish Period (1565-1763). Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.
On the last Saturday of the month, get a personal view of the Old City’s narrow brick streets on a Historic Walking Tour. A licensed, professional guide will share more than 400 years of St. Augustine’s past during this 1.5-hour free history exploration. The tour departs from Tour Saint Augustine at 4 Granada Street and advanced reservations are required.
Promoting excellence in the arts since 1924, the St. Augustine Art Association is the epicenter for the arts in the St. Augustine area. Experience the exhibitions of artwork by the area’s most talented artists at the St. Augustine Art Association Gallery, located at 22 Marine Street in St. Augustine is open 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 904-824-2310 or visit www.staaa.org
Join docents from 9-11 a.m. for a beach walk! You will learn about the animals that call the beach their home, as well as seashells and other interesting facts. This is a “Beaches 101” experience that the entire family will enjoy. For more information, visit www.gtmnerr.org/events.
On weekends and many other nights of the week, live music takes the stage at the music park. With seating for more than 250 visitors, and food and drink available on-site, it's easy to see why The Oak has become a mainstay on the local music festival circuit.
For something completely different, saddle up and head over to the St. Johns County Fairgrounds for monthly barrel, pole and other timed speed horse events at 1 p.m. Admission is free for spectators. 5840 S.R. 207, Elkton 904-588-8017 www.sjchc.org
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For some of the most spectacular views of nature, head for windswept Anastasia State Park and its nature trails, campsites, and pristine sandy beaches. Located 1.5 miles from downtown St. Augustine, the park is open daily 8 a.m. until sundown. Admission is $8 per vehicle (2-8 occupants) and $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, and extra passengers.
Just a short drive from St. Augustine, the Classic Car Museum offers classic cars from the late 1800’s to modern day sports cars, as well as memorabilia that’ll appeal to car enthusiasts of all ages. Hours are Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is $10 per person, under 12 are free.
Miniature golf is a popular pastime in St. Augustine and visitors can choose from three courses.
The newly-renovated Bayfront Mini Golf is located beside the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine’s downtown historic district. $11.99 adults; $8.99 children.
Anastasia Miniature Golf features a pirate ship, tunnel, interconnected waterways and a koi pond. $12 adults; $10 children and seniors; second round $6.00.
Eight waterfalls and a 65-foot Spanish galleon are among the attractions at Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf. $12.75 adults; $10.75 children.
Immerse yourself in the most entertaining and educational documentaries, as well as Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, at the World Golf IMAX. With North Florida’s largest screen (70 feet wide and five stories high), the World Golf Hall of Fame IMAX Theater is at unique movie-going experience. Families can enjoy a little friendly competition on the 18-hole natural grass putting green or the Challenge Hole at the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum.
The Oldest Store Museum Experience contains more than 100,000 essential items and inventions from the early 1900s. Oldest Store admission is $13.83 adults; $8.51 children.
The St. Augustine History Museum features unique artifacts that tell the story of the nation’s oldest city. The museum is $6.39 adults; $5.33 children.
Enjoy a nice cold pint of Guinness overlooking the Fort, Matanzas Bay and the Bridge of Lions from the balcony at Johnny’s Oyster Bar located upstairs at Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House.
The St. Augustine Aquarium features an 80,000-gallon enclosure with shark and ray feedings every 30 minutes and educational presentations throughout the day. Touch horseshoe crabs, urchins, and starfish. Basic admission is $14.99 adults; $9.99 children.
Stroll down Aviles Street, the oldest street in the U.S, and stop at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum. Guided tours conducted by living history interpreters feature a visit to the patients’ ward and a meeting with the Apothecary who creates medicines and explains how colonial herbs were the origin of some of the most popular medicines today. Tours conducted daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $12.73 adults; $10.60 seniors; and $5.86 children.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum is a remarkably preserved Spanish home. Built in 1798, the large home served as a boarding house during the Florida Territorial Period (1821-1845). Guided tours provide fascinating information on everyday life during this period. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults; $8 seniors, students, and military.
The oldest surviving Spanish residence in Florida offers guided tours every 30 minutes and tells the story of the area’s history through the eyes of past residents of the home. Tours include the house, two museums, exhibit gallery, and ornamental garden. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday - Sunday. Admission is $10 adults; $7 seniors and military; $4 students; under 6 free.
Built in the late 1700s as the home of Minorcan settler Juan Genopoly and thought to be the oldest surviving wooden school house in North America, visitors will get a glimpse of education during the 1800s. Open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. -7 p.m. Admission is: $5.95 adults; $4.95 ages 6-12; and free for ages 5 and under.
The Old Jail was built by Henry Flagler in 1891 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was operational for more than 60 years and housed 72 prisoners at a time. Open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
Whetstone Chocolates Tasting Tour offers free samples and a behind-the-scenes look at the factory and how a variety of chocolate confections are crafted. Open daily with numerous tour times from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. $8.95 adults (includes $2 Whetstone discount); $6.50 ages 5-17; free for 4 and younger.
From soul surfers to local legends to shapers and surf shop owners, this interactive museum interprets over fifty oral histories, hundreds of historical images, film, music, artifacts, memorabilia, trophies, articles, and historic surf boards. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Surf Museum is included in the $10 admission to the Oldest House.
You can save on many of the top activities and attractions with combination tickets available through St. Augustine’s Old Town Trolley Tours and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! St. Augustine. Advance online ticket sales will sometimes offer discounts as well.
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches
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Spas & Wellness
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