St. Augustine Historic District has so much to offer. If you ever do get the chance to explore this place you won’t regret it. There are many different things to see here.
An Overview of St. Augustine History
St. Augustine is located approximately 95 miles from Orlando, Florida. This city has much Spanish influence since it was first founded by the Spanish.
Conquistadors such as Pedro Menéndez de Avilés were some important key figures in forming this city. (1)
St. Augustine Florida: Oldest City in the US
Since, it’s the oldest city in the United States of America. You can expect a lot of history here. At the St. Augustine Historic District you will find several U.S Historic Landmarks.
You can also check out the Ultimate Beginners Guide to St. Augustine as well for more information about this city.
Top 10 Things to see in St. Augustine Historic District
There’s many things to see in the St. Augustine Historic District, these were our 10 things we recommend doing:
Castillo de San Marcos
Is considered the oldest masonry fort in the United States of America.
Built by the Spaniards during the 17th century it would take more than 20 years to complete this fort.
Its sole purpose of construction by the Spanish government was to serve as a protection barrier from the other early settlers such as the British, and French (2).
To this day it exists as U.S. National Monument. You can visit the outside grounds free of charge.
However, if you would like to view it from the inside there is an entrance fee of $15 per adult (ages 16 and up).
Be sure to check out their homepage for an update in their prices.
Juan Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Up north of Castillo de San Marcos approximately one mile you can find Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
This is a private 15-acre park that has a $18 entrance fee for adults.
There is quite a bit of a story to this one here.
Juan Ponce de León was another Spanish conquistador like Pedro Menéndez de Avilés who also contributed to the establishment of St. Augustine.
Legend has it he was in search of a fountain that was said to restore youth to those who drank from it. (3)
Whether, the legend was true or not this place would become a symbolic tourist landmark for the coming years to come in St. Augustine Historic District.
Visitors are allowed to drink water from the Fountain of Youth. Other things you will see while walking across the park are peacocks.
As well as the Timucuan Village. Which was a Native American tribe that once existed in St. Augustine. You can see how the tribe used to live.
Canon firing goes on here as well, hourly, giving you a glimpse of how life existed back then amongst the Spanish government.
Old Jail in St. Augustine
Walking down the St. Augustine Historic District you will come across the Old Jail. It is considered a U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Which attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to visit.
But, it wasn’t always an attraction. In fact, Old Jail was one of the most notorious places to be in.
It once operated as prison facility, often housing high-risk criminals. They offer guided tours in which you learn from it’s history.
My sister and I paid approximately $12.99 when we took the tour. But, as always make sure to check their homepage for up to date prices.
Our Lady of La Leche National Shrine at Mission Nombre de Dios
If you ever plan on visiting this mission you won’t be disappointed. Besides the beautiful trees and statues, you will see the Our Lady of La Leche National Shrine.
It’s the first shrine built by the Spanish in devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
More history for those not familiar with the Catholicism religion. Our Lady of Guadalupe is an important figure in this religion.
She is also known as Mary who was the mother of Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ was regarded as the son of God. Important people in this religion.
Mary is often seen as a guardian amongst the poor people and she stands for motherhood and justice amongst Catholicism.
Inside the shrine you can see a statue of Mary who is nursing baby Jesus. Many people come to pray and meditate.
There is no cost to visit this place, but they do have a sign that welcomes donations.
Old Town Trolley Tours (Sightseeing Tour Agency)
This one definitely by all means is a must for the first timer coming to St. Augustine Historic District!
Even if you are visiting for a day and can’t explore the previously mentioned places then I suggest you do this one only!
My sister and I did a One-Day Trolley tour around St. Augustine Historic District.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side and we were completely drenched by the end of the tour.
The driver of the tour was nice enough to offer all the passengers ponchos, but the fiercely heavy rain with thunder still got the best of us.
Side note here, if you ever do plan a vacation to Florida in the summertime make sure to check the weather forecasts ahead of time.
Just in case you will need ponchos or umbrellas.
A miss misconception about Florida in the summertimes is that not only can it get hot and humid, but expect rainy thunderstorms as well.
The sightseeing tour agency is located in 167 San Marcos Avenue in St. Augustine.
We paid about $25 each online, instead of the ticket counter. It’s a few more dollars at the ticket counter.
You have 23 stops that you can get on and off from around the St. Augustine Historic District.
Such as Old Jail, to the St. Augustine History Museum to name a few.
One of the things I would like to give advice from our mistakes is to give yourself enough time to explore!
We didn’t get a chance to explore all 23 stops due to the last tour departing at 3pm.
So make sure to look at the times of operation so you get the most out of sightseeing. You can find out more at Old Town Trolley Tours website.
Old Senator Tree
I know, I know, you’re thinking, see a tree? Come on, seriously?
But, I still would like to prove my point here. It’s one of the oldest trees in America!
It is 600 years old. The Old Town Trolley passes through here. You can find the Old Senator Tree in the parking lot of Howard Johnson Hotel.
I’m a nature lover and to me this was a sight to see.
But, if you’re like my brother who is more into seeing historic buildings than trees then, by all means, don’t bother checking this out.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is one of the oldest Catholic churches found in America that was built by the Spanish government.
Its uniquely stained glass windows and beautiful architecture style offers us a glimpse of how the Spanish architecture existed once.
They offer free guided tours. And even to this day it is an operating church offering mass services.
There is also a gift shop in which you can find rosaries, bibles, and even prayer cards for gifts or souvenirs.
George Street: Main Street of St. Augustine Historic District
George Street is the main street of St. Augustine Historic District. Think of it as the heart of the place.
It’s a street full of shops, restaurants, and bars along with other historic sites such as the Old City Gate.
When walking around this street you are often told to be careful for theft is common here due to its popularity amongst tourists.
You will see some people asking for money or food. We saw only a few, but overall it was safe.
I’m a sucker for sweets so I had to check out the dessert shop Kilwin’s Chocolates. Where I got some chocolates as souvenirs.
You can’t miss seeing Flagler College. It’s a private college that was named after the American businessman Henry Flagler (4).
Amongst the college you can also see Hotel Juan Ponce de León which is a National Historic Landmark.
This hotel was one of many luxury places Henry Flagler could build during his lifetime in this city.
Influenced from Spanish Renaissance architecture you admire its history and style. They also offer guided tours about the history of the college along with the Hotel Juan Ponce de León.
The cost of the tour is $12 per adult. You can find more information on the Flagler College website.
Old City Gate
As you walk through the streets of St. George you can’t miss seeing the Old City Gate which is located near the Historic Downtown Parking Facility.
A side note about the Historic Downtown Parking Facility expect to pay $15 to park here.
That was how much my sister and I paid the first time we visited the St. Augustine Historic District.
The second time we parked on the side streets in which we paid $2.50 an hour.
The Old City Gate was constructed to symbolize the entrance of the city of St. Augustine as well as a barrier protector from the outside world.
As you can see St. Augustine Historic District contains so much history. After all it was the first city ever to be formed in the U.S.A.
Don’t forget to check out the beaches in St. Augustine while visiting. You can more here: What to Expect when Visiting St. Augustine beach.
These are 10 things to do in St. Augustine Historic District worth seeing as a first time visitor. Let me know in the comments below if you did any of these things or recommend others. Until next time!
- Pedro Menéndez De Avilés Facts, https://biography.yourdictionary.com/pedro-menendez-de-aviles.
- “Architecture & Construction.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/casa/learn/historyculture/construction.htm.
- “Juan Ponce De León.” Juan Ponce De León – New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Juan_Ponce_de_Leon
- Flagler College. “Our History.” History – Flagler College, https://www.flagler.edu/about-flagler/history/
Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who created Unseen Beaches. This beach travel site was inspired by their family beach vacations while growing up. Helping you discover the best U.S. beach destinations worth visiting, staying, and eating.