St. Augustine is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited and surprising it is also one of the most affordable. It is rich in history, culture, and fun, family activities. With many national attractions raising prices in the past year, it’s put a strain on families that are looking to enjoy an affordable family vacation. In my previous post, I shared the Top 10 Things to Do for Free in St. Augustine. But it doesn’t end there. Here are 10 MORE top things to do for free in St Augustine.
As you stroll the historic waterfront, you’ll see breathtaking views of the Bridge of Lions, the City Gates, the Marina, Matanzas Bay, the Castillo de San Marcos, and so much more. It is easy to understand why St. Augustine was considered such a strategic location.
During the yellow fever epidemic of 1821, this half-acre plot was set aside as a public cemetery. Many Protestant pioneers to the new Florida Territory are buried here. Often these burials were made at public expense and went unmarked. The Presbyterian Church has owned and maintained the cemetery since 1832. The grave markers at Huguenot Cemetery display a range of funerary art popular in the 19th century, including false box tombs with inscribed ledgers, finely carved headstones by highly skilled stone carvers from 1820s – 40s, and the more elaborate monuments that were in favor during the Victorian period. Interestingly enough, although named “Huguenot Cemetery”, it isn’t believed to contain any Huguenots (Huguenots were a French Protestant sect started in the 16th century in France.) The cemetery is not usually open to the public, however, it is easily viewable from the street.
St. Photios Greek-Orthodox National Shrine
St. Paotios is the first Greek Orthodox Church in the United States and is located only steps from St. Augustine’s city gates on St. George Street. Called “The Jewel of St. George Street,” this shrine features Old World architecture and centuries old Byzantine art. It also features various exhibits telling the history of the shrine and the Greek colonists who brought their faith to St. Augustine. You can do a self-guided tour of St. Photios on Sundays from noon – 6 PM or Mondays and Saturdays 9 AM – 5 PM.
Father Miguel O’Reilly House Museum
Built in 1691 during the First Spanish Period in St. Augustine, the O’Reilly structure is one of the oldest structures in St. Augustine. Only the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine is older. It is named after one of its first owners, Father Miguel O’Reilly, an Irish priest in service of the Spanish Crown. The house was left to the Sisters of St. Joseph, a Catholic order that came to St. Augustine after the Civil War to teach former slaves to read and write. It is located south of the Plaza on Aviles Street, in the oldest continuously settled section of the city of St. Augustine. It is open for guided tours Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM – 3 PM.
St. Augustine is home to the oldest Catholic parish in the United States. The first Catholic mass was celebrated in 1565. The cathedral walls are adorned with exquisite murals that depict scenes from the history of the Catholic Church in the development of the New World. There are also stained glass windows showing scenes from the life of Saint Augustine of Hippo, for whom the city was named. Guided tours are available by appt. and offered throughout the day. Parishioners serve as docents for tours. They share their historical traditions as well as information about the artistic and architectural elements of the Cathedral.
Old City Gates
At one time, these gates were the only entrance to the city of St. Augustine. The gates were built in 1808 as a line of defense in conjunction with a wall that surrounded the city. The gates were closed each night at curfew and not opened again until the next morning. If you were not inside the city by then you were locked outside with the alligators, snakes, and natives.
Plaza de la Constitución
The Plaza de la Constitución is the central park in downtown St. Augustine. The park is on a square of land bordered by the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, Trinity Episcopal, and the Government House and facing the Bridge of Lions. The plaza has been a central part of St. Augustine since 1573. Once a commercial center for various businesses in the Old City, Plaza de la Constitución is now home to an array of restaurants and shops. You can enjoy local events at the plaza like a free summer concert series featuring local and regional bands or the Nights of Lights with a stunning Christmas tree in the center and oaks strung with lights. The Plaza is a great place to stop and enjoy a peaceful rest and the lovely scenery.
St. George Street
St. George Street is the heart of historic St. Augustine. It is a pedestrian-only promenade lined with historic architecture, specialty shops, art galleries, and great restaurants. It is a nice way to spend an afternoon or evening walking about. There are musicians on the side streets busking and you can hear music coming from many restaurants and bars along the way. The street is several blocks long.
St. Augustine Distillery
St. Augustine Distillery makes award-winning whiskey, rum, gin, and vodka, and offers free tours and tastings to St. Augustine visitors. It is located in a historic former ice plant building. The guided tour takes guests through a number of exhibits, including artifacts that reveal the fascinating history of Old Florida and the many ways in which the art of distilling spirits has changed (and not changed) over the years. The St. Augustine Distillery specializes in farm-to-bottle spirits. Distillery tours are free, including a free tasting and begin every half-hour.
Fort Matanzas National Monument
In October of 2016 Hurricane Matthew caused severe damage to the fort. The ferry service is suspended but you can still drive to the fort. Even with the boardwalks and ferry dock damaged, the park visitor center and surrounding grounds are still open. Walk the nature trail, relax at the beach, view our exhibits, meet with a park ranger, or watch the park movie.
Travel can be expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of airfare, airport parking, and hotels that you can’t afford to do anything when you get to your destination. There are so many things to do for free in St Augustine that it is an extremely affordable destination.
Thanks to the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau for hosting my travels to their beautiful city. I did not receive any other form of compensation for this post. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.