St. Augustine Area
The St. Augustine area has long been on my list of top places to visit for a day trip on a budget. There are so many things to see for free in St. Augustine! It’s rich in history, quaint, and there is something for everyone. I would highly recommend visiting on a weekday, as it is a popular tourist destination and can get crowded on the weekend.
1. St. George Street – FREE (unless shopping)
Top of my list of is a walk down famous St. George street, where you find a variety of local shops and unique places to walk into. Often there are free food samples (and sometimes wine in the wine shop!). This is also a great spot to stop for a quick ice cream or candy. My recommendations: Savannah Sweets, and Tedi’s Old Time Ice Cream. These are on the map below
2. Castillo de San Marcos – ($15 admission, kids free)
So, you DO NOT have to enter the castle to enjoy the Castilla de San Marcos. While the admission price is pretty steep (anyone over 15 has to pay $15, kids under that are free), you can see enjoy the great castle by walking along the pier by the water on the outside. The walk along the water is beautiful. There is a big field for kids to run outside the castle.. just be careful not to get too close to the moat 😉
3. San Sebastian Winery – FREE self guided tours and wine tasting
The winery is located just a few blocks from downtown and offers free self guided tours and wine tastings. The tour lasts about 45 min and is offered every 20-25 min during the hours they are open. Children are welcome as well (minus the actual tasting part!)
4. Ft. Mantanzas – FREE
While outside of the downtown area of St. Augustine, take a trip on a ferry to visit this historic Fort! The ferry and the entrance to the fort are completely free. The “tickets” to the ferry boat are on a first come first serve basis, so get there early on the weekend. You can get the tickets at the visitors center. The site also has a nature trail. A site rich in history, great place to spend the day.
5. St Augustine Beach and Splash Park (and other beaches) – FREE
Parking for the St. John’s county beaches is free, so visit one of the great ones in the area! I recommend the St. Augustine beach and splash pad, which also has the Pier in St. John’s County. Fish, go to the beach, grab a bite. Depending on the time of year, maybe you’ll catch one of the local craft festivals hosted here. If you want to avoid the crowds, here is a list of all the beach locations.
If you want to drive on the beach, you can do so for $10 in some areas of St. John’s county. You need to get a pass and here is the list of locations where you can drive on the beach.
6. Project Swing Playground
This is one of the great classic castle playgrounds. There are so many obstacles and slides! There is a pavilion in the middle to have a snack and plenty of shade in the park. This playground is located right next to the large parking garage near downtown ($15/day). If you are visiting after 3:30 on a weekday, or anytime on the weekend, you can usually park in the school parking lot, just to the left of the entrance!
There is a great light and Christmas decoration display for free in St. Augustine during the holidays! The “nights of lights” goes from late November all the way into January! Another great free thing to do in St. Aug!
If you’re staying in the area, don’t miss our page on Jacksonville for more great budget friendly activities!