One of the many joys of living in St. Augustine is there is never a shortage of things to do and see. It’s also very easy to miss out on some of the city’s finest and fun offerings, simply because we take them for granted. Spring Break is the perfect time to catch up on some of the historical and natural sights around town!
Hit the Beach
Even if it’s too cold for swimming, there is no shortage of activities to while away the hours at one of St. Augustine’s beaches. Bring buckets and shovels to build castles and tunnels in the sand. Kites are easy to pack and fly beautifully in the sea breeze. Little ones can hunt for shells, sea glass and shark teeth while walking along the shoreline while older kids can boogie board in the surf.
(St. Johns County beach access and parking passes are available to county residents at a discounted rate: $6 for a daily pass and $40 for a season pass.)
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is a 142-year-old, active lighthouse, open to explore. Little ones must be 44″ to climb the 216 steps to the top of the 165-foot structure, but those who are up to the challenge are rewarded by sweeping views of downtown St. Augustine and the inlet.
Self-guided exhibits cater to guests of all ages, with a little something for everyone. After your morning of exploring, walk across the street to the Salt Run to watch the birds and boats coming in and out. Keep an eye out for dolphins!
Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley
There are so many great landmarks in downtown St. Augustine that it’s nearly impossible to visit them all in a day. Trolley tours are a great solution: not only do passengers get a narrated tour of the city, but they can get on and off the vehicles at any one of the scheduled stops along the route, any time they like. Pop into Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to ooh and aah over the bizarre and unusual exhibits. Take a stroll through the Castillo San Marcos and enjoy the view of the Matanzas River from the uppermost turrets. Grab a bite and do some shopping on St. George Street, or wander among the peacocks at the Fountain of Youth.
There are several trolley companies from which to choose, so it’s simple to customize your day according to your budget and interests.
There are several gorgeous state parks in the Saint Johns County area, making hiking a natural choice for a day away from it all.
Lace up those walking shoes and head out on the trails. Games like “Scavenger Hunt” and “I Spy” are great ways to keep all the kids involved and engaged along the way. Little ones can take along binoculars, magnifying glasses and sketchbooks with colored pencils or crayons to draw pictures of some of the neat plants, bugs or animals they see along the way. Invite them to also record or draw observations about what they see so they can refer to it on future hikes.
Anastasia State Park, Fort Mose Historic State Park, Faver-Dykes State Park and Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve are just a few of the options available for families to visit and explore. Make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch. (Annual entrance passes to state parks are available for Florida residents).
Feed the Gators
It’s easy to while away a day at St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Just outside of historical downtown, the Alligator Farm boasts fascinating reptiles, an active rookery, and interactive activities. Guests can explore the different species of alligators and crocodiles, check out several different shows in the small amphitheater, play in the kids’ zone park, and even hold an alligator or snake! The highlight of the day is the alligator feeding in the main lagoon. It’s both entertaining and educational, with just the right amount of thrill for all ages.
(Alligator Farm offers St. Johns County resident discounts on individual tickets, but for $109.95, purchase an Annual Family Membership which includes two adults in a household as well as any dependents under the age of 18).
How do you plan to “get away” this Spring Break?