Let’s start out by saying I LOVE St. Augustine. So every year, I make a special effort to drive the 2 hours to see the St. Augustine nights of lights and visit some of my favorite St. Aug attractions. There are plenty of ways to spend some money and take a train, trolley, boat, or horse carriage to view the lights (see the list here), but as a family we prefer to just walk around and enjoy all the is free in St. Augustine.
So First up… parking. There is a huge and expensive garage just a few blocks from St. George street (a popular street for dining and shopping), however it’s a whopping $15 a day to park there! I prefer to park either at the Castillo de San Marcos by the water, which has pay per hour, or one of the smaller lots… I recommend 5 Artillery Ln Parking or one of the two lots off Spanish St. – I have included a map at the bottom. Plan to spend about $5-7 on parking.
If you do park at or near the garage and you have children, the playground is a MUST stop. It is classic castle playground with lots of obstacles, swings, hanging rings and bars. My kids could spend hours here.
Castillo de San Marco
Our next stop, while we still have daylight, is usually the Castillo de San Marcos. If you want to explore the fort, you can go inside for $15 per adult and free for kids – also if you have a 4th grader, you can get a free pass to ALL national parks including this one!! Typically we don’t go inside, as the fort closes at 5pm. We have a great time just playing outside in the huge grassy area, walking along the castle walls, and taking in some beautiful views of the harbor.
St. George Street
Another great activity that is free in St. Augustine is our next destination – St. George street – we usually head towards here just as it is getting dark. You could easily do St. George street first during the day if that is your preference. It is a favorite for window shopping, samples, and if you would like, dining. We start around the intersection of Cuna St. and St. George and head south.
On St. George, there are several side streets that take you to more shopping and browsing, so don’t be afraid to take a little detour if you see something interesting! There are lots of great shops on the side streets, including a great tea store, and even a jerky store!
One the main strip, there are plenty of ice cream and coffee shops, a pizza place, a taco shop (don’t forget $2 tacos on Tuesdays!). My kids enjoy viewing the holiday decorations during the season – there are quite a few. They also enjoy watching the taffy be made at Zeno’s World Famous Taffy. You can watch the machine right from outside the window!
My absolute favorite stop on St. George street is a made-in-house candy and sweet shop called Savannah Sweets. They have a wide selection and I’m happy to spend $10 on treats from the store! We have yet to make it home without having eaten all our sweets.
Nights of Lights
Finally St. Augustine nights of lights! After walking down St. George heading south, you will hit a huge green space and park lit up with holiday lights (if you visit in Late November to Early January). There is a large gazebo and plenty of historic monuments to view in the park. We usually make this our last stop to let the kids run around before deciding on a place to eat dinner. This is my favorite place to view the lights in the park and along the bridge of lions. Sometimes we also take a walk along the water to view more lights, depending on how cold the weather is that day!
So that’s it! There are of course many MANY other attractions and things to do in St. Augustine, but this is my list of what I do at a low cost budget while still having fun and enjoying time with my family. Hope you enjoy! Let us know if you have any St. Aug favorites!!
For more to do in St. Augustine, visit our page on The St. Augustine Area