St Augustine is often called the oldest city in the USA. Founded in 1565, this city brings American history to life, while also offering beautiful Florida beaches, National parks, a great foodie scene and plenty of fun for the entire family. I just returned from a quick getaway with my three year old and six year old children. I am very happy to report that St. Augustine gave us some wonderful memories and historical lessons through some really neat attractions. I feel that St Augustine is an overlooked destination in Florida; but I highly recommend you adding it to your list of places to visit. Below is my must do list when visiting St Augustine with kids.
St. Augustine attractions providing fun for kids
The Alligator Farm Zoological Park is one of out favorite St. Augustine attractions. It is one of Florida’s oldest continuously running attractions, opened 1893. This attraction serves as a modern accredited zoo with exhibits, shows and conservation efforts. There is a playground and the opportunity to zip across Alligator Lagoon on Crocodile Crossing, the park’s thrilling zip-line attraction.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium is near the Visitor’s Center and also on the Trolley Stop. There are some very interesting oddities such as a replica of the tallest man in the world, artwork made from unique items like camel bone and the “freeze shadow” activity at the end was especially fun. Warning though, there are several areas that young kids may find scary, we just quickly passed by these areas.
Potter Wax Museum is the very first wax museum in the U.S. The museum displays over 1660 wax figures and is always changing with regular updates to its celebrity collection. Each figures has a display that tells the full history of their life.
St Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is a unique pirate museum where you can see one of only two original Jolly Roger Flags and the only pirate chest left in the world. Search for “hidden treasure” by locating discovery drawers throughout the museum marked with a skull & crossbones.
Project Swing is a playground located near the downtown parking garage. SWING was a community project and stands for: St Augustine’s Wish for its Next Generation.
St. Augustine attractions providing history lessons for kids
At the Oldest Wooden School kids find out what school was like in the 1700’s and may even have a greater appreciation for their school days. My son was amazed at the size and the punishments for bad kids and slow learners. Afterwards, the kids get to take home a diploma as a souvenir.
Oldest Store Museum is set up to look like a general store did in the late 1800s. When taking the tour, you are treated like customers. The guides act like the storekeepers and lead everyone around the store explaining all the new products on display.
Old Jail of St. Augustine provides a great look at the jail life of the late 1800s-early 1900s. I highly suggest you to take a guided tour through the cellblocks where the tour guides provide some interesting information while holding true to character of a prisoner of that time. You get to see a collection of guns used in actual crimes, see the Sheriffs living quarters and visit the old town gallows.
St. Augustine Lighthouse was a Spanish watch tower built in the late 1500s. In 1824 it was converted into Florida’s first lighthouse. It is 162 feet high and visitors can climb the 219 steps to the top. You do have to meet a height minimum to go to the top- my son walked the steps with me while my daughter played on the pirate playground with my mom. There is a great hands on museum inside the keeper’s house that my kids enjoyed as well.
Castillo De San Marcos was completed in 1695 to protect treasures carried by the Spanish from pirate attacks. It is the oldest masonry fort in the United States and you pay to walk around inside and on top of it.
Have you been to St Augustine? I want to go back for a couples trip and experience other attractions like the Ghost Tour and nightlife. Because St Augustine is such a beautiful Florida city with so many unique places to explore.