St. Augustine – Three Days of Family Fun

St. Augustine FortSpring break is our favorite time to get away with the family, an ideal time to travel affordably between the pricey winter holidays and crowded summer travel months.  Spring break is a treasured time for getaways for most American families. Vacations between February and April can also be easier on your budget and easier to plan.

Though Florida spring break is commonly associated with beach bound college coeds, there are plenty of getaways that provide a kid-friendly atmosphere. Although Orlando remains a top destination with two and a half million visitors during the season, it is too crowded for our taste. If you are going to visit Orlando for the week, we recommend taking a quick trip over to St. Augustine for a few days to get away from the crowds and enjoy a dose of American history and the outdoors.

Beaches, museums and a great wildlife park are just some of the kid-friendly offerings found in St. Augustine. But no visit to America’s Oldest City would be complete without checking out the world-famous Castillo de San Marcos. Relive the story of the first settlement in North America as you visit Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish fort built in the 17th century.  It sits right outside of the city gates overlooking Matanzas Bay.

To make the most of a three-day trip to St. Augustine, we have broken it down into three suggested itineraries that can be done in a day that include different aspects of the city.

Day One – History

Old Town Trolley TourWe suggest you begin with the Old Town Trolley Tour (www.trolleytours.com/st-augustine).  This 90 minute tour gives a comprehensive narrated tour of the city and its history. Tickets can be purchased online in advance beginning at $25 per person. There are 23 stops along the route within the popular areas of St. Augustine, along with shuttle service to St. Augustine Beach, the Lighthouse and the Alligator Farm included with your ticket.  You are free to hop on and off the trolley as many times as you would like. The trolley runs every fifteen minutes. A great aspect is that it includes free parking.  Parking in the historic district runs $15 per day.

The best way to start a story is from the beginning, and in St. Augustine, that means a visit to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park (www.fountainofyouthflorida.com) In 1513, Ponce de Leon, believing the area to be an island, named this beautiful new land “La Florida” because it was sighted during the Festival of Flowers at Easter time. The village of Seloy was already centered here and extended about one mile to the north and one mile to the west, up to the San Sebastian River. He sailed with three ships Santiago, Santa Maria & San Cristobal. A visit to the park combines this history with legend. You can easily spend a couple of hours seeing all the exhibits. My kids were fascinated with all the peacocks.   Be sure to drink from the fountain.

Day Two – Nature and Outdoor Fun

St. Augustine Alligator FarmNow that you know the history of the area, it is time to take a walk on the wild side. At the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park (www.alligatorfarm.com), you can see way more than just alligators; there are exotic birds, crocodiles, reptiles and lemurs. The park has daily alligator feedings and several wildlife shows. For added excitement, you can tackle the zip line over the alligators!

St. Augustine Lighthouse is a right across from the alligator farm. Completed in 1874. St. Augustine’s oldest surviving brick structure, the tower contains 219 steps, taking visitors 165-feet above sea level. Today, the watch keeper’s house serves as a museum of maritime archeology and shipwrecks.

No trip to Florida is complete without some time enjoying the beautiful beaches. St. Augustine Beach is situated on Anastasia Island and offers visitors a wide flat stretch of white sand for shelling and sunning, a fishing pier and a playground.

Day Three – Family Fun

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum (www.thepiratemuseum.com) is a fun educational museum that makes you feel like you are back in time with the pirates. This museum houses a huge collection of artifacts and a real pirate treasure chest in addition to interactive displays.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not in St. Augustine is the very first permanent Ripley’s location in the world.  It is set within a castle. The three floors are filled with over 300 odd exhibits from all over the world.

touch and feed dolphinsMarineland Dolphin Adventure (www.marineland.net) is about 20 miles south of St. Augustine on A1A. Marineland was originally made as a movie studio back in the 1940’s. It was the first oceanarium built, but wasn’t intended for tourists originally. After it was completed the studio decided to open it up to the public for a “small” viewing for locals. Well, over 20,000 people showed up. They quickly learned people were interested in dolphins! With general admission you can walk around the grounds and see the sea turtle they have on site, the sting ray, the sharks, and the dolphins.

 

For Lodging, we recommend the new TRYP by Wyndham Sebastian St. Augustine Pairing modern guest rooms and contemporary amenities with seamless access to the rich history. TRYP by Wyndham Sebastian St. AugustineThis hotel, built in 2016, is within walking distance of many of St. Augustine’s main attractions in the historic downtown area, making it a great option for visitors looking to explore the city. Guests will enjoy the many amenities offered at the hotel, including the Fitness Center and outdoor pool area with hot tub and fire pit table. For more information, visit www.trypstaugustine.com

 

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