When touring St. Augustine, Florida, there are never too few things to do. History is everywhere within this quaint old city and tours provide something for everyone. While we certainly did not explore every corner in our time in St. Augustine, we do have some favorite exploits to recommend.
If you are a fan of getting spooked and would love to have your very own photos of some supernatural activity, Ghost Tours of St. Augustine is perhaps one of the best tours in the country for both. While the tour is family friendly, even adults will experience a few chills up and down their spines. Our tour was led by a colorful pirate with a flair for intriguing storytelling as he led us from St. George Street, around to the city cemetery, City Gates and the Castillo. Yes, we even captured our own images of “ghostly” occurrences. Whether you believe in such things or not, this tour is great fun. Conducted at night and delightfully cooled by ocean breezes, this walk provides a great review of St. Augustine’s most famous sites and history. It is a great way to start your trip here, as you may want to take the tour again or just spend a lot of time visiting places you passed along the evening’s journey.
“A Ghostly Experience” walking tour is held nightly through the streets of the Old City on 365 nights per year. Ghost Tours of St. Augustine is one of several such tours of the area. We believe they are the best – just as it seems the ghosts do – as evidenced by the company’s website, as well as on the Discovery Channel and Travel Channel. Take your camera and click away almost constantly. Many tales are told and with dramatic flair by one of over 20 costumed storytellers. Other ghostly tours are also available through the same company, such as a riding tour and a sail aboard the 72’ Schooner Freedom.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
St. Augustine Lighthouse is a beautiful example of old American lighthouses, standing 165 feet above sea level overlooking the Matanzas Bay and Atlantic Ocean. During daylight hours, visitors can climb to the top and enjoy spectacular views of St. Augustine and the sea. This is always a treat for anyone who loves lighthouses, mariner’s tales, folklore, picturesque views and a nice little stair climb. It is 219 steps to the top. Even family or group members who do not feel up to the circular staircase can enjoy historic information, displays and more at the Keeper’s House museum and on the beautiful grounds. A gift shop is also available for picking up those little reminders of your visit.
Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
The Old Schoolhouse was built over 200 years ago, while Florida was under the rule of Imperial Spain. Constructed of red cedar and cypress, the school was put together with wooden pegs and handmade nails, yet it still stands today! Finding the schoolhouse is easy because it is located near the City Gates and on St. George Street. Visiting can be part of a bigger day of touring, walking St. George Street and enjoying everything Old St. Augustine has to offer. For visitors of all ages, this provides a great glimpse into life during America’s very beginnings. Period furnishings, related artifacts and copies of the students’ books are on display in the school room, while the separate kitchen indicates what food preparation was like so long ago.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
While the ghost tour will end up at the Castillo and some great information is provided by your guide, a separate visit to the Castillo de San Marcos is warranted. This 17th century fortification is an amazing example of life, hardships, tenacity and warfare of the earliest years of our country. The very walls of the Castillo resonate from the struggles which took place here in the oldest European fort still remaining on American soil.
Old Town Trolley Tours
While there are so many other things to do in St. Augustine than our little list may accommodate, you can make a few rounds on the Old Town Trolley Tour to take in the sights and create your own “must do” list. Simply jump off the trolley at any one of its more than 20 stops and jump back on when you are ready. Over 100 points of interest are passed, so this trolley may very well provide transportation to and from several days’ worth of fun, dining, shopping and exploration. Board at the Old Jail at 167 San Marco Avenue after checking out that interesting site of Victorian and post-Victorian era criminal justice and go with your gut from there.