Located a short drive (about 4 hours) from where we live, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. The city itself was founded by the Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, but Juan Ponce de Leon is the paramount historic figure when it comes to first laying eyes on Florida, and St. Augustine in particular in 1513.
There are so many historical monuments to check out so it was a bit hard to pick our top 5 family friendly places. I’ve added snippets of information about some of the other locations after our faves, so be sure to check those out as well!
Family Friendly Places in St. Augustine
These are in no specific order, other than the order in which we visited.
I visited the Key West Odditorium years ago, and knew this would be a fun place for us to start the day. The boys brought their notebooks with them, ready to sketch their favorite exhibits and write down some cool facts to share with their friends any family. The lady at the front noticed that N was drawing something and commented that he should continue to draw, as that was how Robert Ripley became a millionaire – by drawing about unusual facts.
The St. Augustine location is the first of 36 current museums open around the world. We had a blast exploring the three floors of artifacts.
When you arrive at the Fountain of Youth, the oldest attraction in St. Augustine, the first place you visit is the Spring House – a 60 year old coquina building that houses the actual springs of the Fountain of Youth. The fountain itself isn’t a sprawling fountain as we are used to seeing. Over time it has turned into a little bubbling blip like feature, though the springs still flow to this day.
We drank some of the water from the spring and it was definitely smelly due to the amount of sulfur in the water. BUT – Did you know that sulfur is actually very important for your body? Sulfur helps to produce collagen which helps to produce connective tissues, artery walls and cell structure. It also helps to strengthen our hair, nails and skin because it is a part of keratin. Bring it on! (Just hold your nose!)
We walked the grounds and saw the beautiful white peacocks, or Indian peafowl; chatted with a blacksmith and learned about the arquebus (and how to fire one!). Learn more about the other attractions within the park and ticket info.
The Castillo de San Marcos is breathtaking. You can choose to walk around the exterior of the fort, but we wanted to explore the whole site! N went to St. Augustine as part of his 4th grade class trip, so he acted as our personal tour guide. I was super impressed with his knowledge (and memory!) and loved his fervor when explaining each of the different historical facts.
We heard through the grapevine that the Pirate and Treasure museum was a must-see, and it was! Enter the museum to be transported back in time over 300 years to Port Royal, Jamaica, at the height of the Golden Age of Piracy. It was so cool to learn all about the different “famous” pirates, their stories, view artifacts and how the museum integrated technology into the exhibits. The boys went on a treasure hunt through the museum, searching for key clues. They were rewarded with “treasure” at the end.
I’d never been to a lighthouse before. I’ve seen them from afar and appreciated their beauty but nothing like I did this day. Originally the site of multiple wooden watchtowers, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is 165 feet above sea level. Travel up 219 steps to experience a bird’s eye view of St. Augustine. I am afraid of heights so I stayed at the bottom while the boys and my hubby climbed the top and took photos.
You can also check out the recently restored 1876 Keepers’ House, check out some super cool shipwreck archaeology, walk the nature trails, or take a break while the kids play on the shipyard play area.
OTHER GREAT PLACES TO VISIT
If you have the time, check out these other great spots:
- Colonial Quarter
- Oldest Schoolhouse
- Potter’s Wax Museum
- Villa Zorayda Museum
- Lightner Museum
- Tour Flagler College
- Oldest Wooden House
Which places would you be interested in visiting while in St. Augustine?