St. Augustine Florida is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is rich in history, culture and fun, family activities. With the beautiful beaches to the east of the “Ancient City” and the endless beauty of the St. Johns River to the west, there is something for everyone and something for every budget. Here are 10 top things to do for free in St Augustine.
Government House Museum and Visitor’s Center
A good place to start your visit to St. Augustine is at the Visitor’s Information Center at Government House. Inside you’ll find restrooms, water fountains, a gift shop, an information desk, and even a local exhibit. Pick up brochures for area attractions and tours and learn about local events. The lobby exhibit explains the rich history of Government House and its prominent location in the St. Augustine historic district. The Government House Museum gallery hosts rotating exhibits and displays showcasing the cultural, economic and historical past of the city from the original Spanish settlers of the 16th century though the Flagler era in the late 1800’s.
The beach is a simple and obvious suggestion when looking for free activities in St. Augustine, but a day at the beach can be priceless. St. Augustine consists of more than 40 miles of well-preserved beaches, where Spanish explorers first set foot hundreds of years ago. Admission is free to all St. Augustine and St. Johns County beaches and parking can often be found only a few feet from the sand. You can picnic, swim, build sandcastles, and do whatever else all day long.
Bridge of Lions
The Bridge of Lions spans the Intracoastal Waterway and connects downtown St. Augustine to Anastasia Island. Lions made of marble guard the bridge. From its earliest days, it was hailed as “The Most Beautiful Bridge in Dixie.” It has long been one of the symbols of the nation’s oldest city. A round trip walk over this bridge is just over half a mile.
Ponce De Leon Statue
A life-size representation of the first European to discover Florida, the statue of Ponce De Leon is a centerpiece in old town. (Interestingly, Ponce De Leon was only 4’11” tall.) He is pointing to the sea as a reminder of Spain’s conquest of the seas.
Legend has it that pirates once traveled to St. Augustine to loot this home, the former home of the Spanish Royal Treasurer Juan Estevan de Peña and his wife Maria Antonia. Built in 1750 by order of the King of Spain, it has passed through only a few different families. The last owners, the Peck family, owned the home for 94 years before donating it to the city of St. Augustine in 1931 to serve as an “example of the old antebellum homes of the South.” Guided tours of the house are available. Donations accepted.
San Sebastian Winery
The San Sebastian Wine Company began creating local wine in 1983 and opened its winery doors in 1996. This winery is the second-biggest winery in the state of Florida. The winery is located in downtown St. Augustine, in a building constructed in 1923. More than 1600 visitors a year enjoy tastings in the historic building. You can taste any of San Sebastian Winery’s Florida-grown grape wines for free at a complimentary tour of the winery. These tours run Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to- 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to- 6 p.m.
Aviles is the oldest street in North America. It is more reminiscent of old world Europe. A quaint thoroughfare of restaurants, stores, and galleries. St. Augustine’s architecture spans several centuries. Aviles Street is the original art district as well as the location for an early church, a jail, hospitals, boarding houses, and schools. Aviles Street was renovated a few years ago and now is the home to bar and restaurants with sidewalk seating, museums, art galleries and antique shops as well as Trinity Church are found here.
Farmers Market at the Pier
The Farmers and Crafts Market at the St. Johns County Pier offers fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and local arts and crafts every Wednesday morning. This beachside farmers market makes for a great outing on Wednesday morning. Visitors can browse the huge selection of locally produced goods and then afterward take a stroll along scenic St. Augustine Beach.
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Built by Henry Flagler in memory of his daughter, the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian was built in 1889. Henry Flagler is interned in the church. The church is open to the public during the day. Memorial Presbyterian Church Florida’s first Presbyterian congregation, established in 1824. CNN has named it one of the eight religious wonders in the United Sates.
The Ponce de Leon luxury resort hotel was built between 1885 and 1887 by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. The magnificent structure that is now home to Flagler College. It has been called one of the most beautiful universities in the United States. Its brick archways, gleaming fountains, and tall palm trees are reminiscent of southern Spain. Luxurious details such as Tiffany stained glass windows and painted murals adorn campus facilities such as dining halls. The original hotel lobby has an elegant 68-foot domed ceiling. Guided tours of the campus are given daily for a fee and well worth the price but it is a lovely place to stroll through for free.
There is so much to do in St. Augustine for free that I am going to continue my list in my next post. Watch for my next post 10 More Top Things to Do for Free in St Augustine.
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.