6 Things to Do in St. Augustine
Looking for different things to do during your visit to St. Augustine, Florida–beyond the tram tour and walking around downtown? There’s plenty to do and see in this beautiful, historic area. Take some tips from our recent visit (the fourth visit Florida Culture has made in four years).
1. Get some liquid courage at the St. Augustine Distillery. A distillery in Florida? You betcha. The St. Augustine Distillery opened to the public in March 2014 and partners with farmers in the state for a variety of products used in its vodka, gin, and—in the future—its bourbon and rum, the latter of which will be ready in September of this year. The distillery produces hand-crafted, small-batch spirits in what was once an ice plant. The folks at the distillery believe Florida’s heat and Flo-grown ingredients give their product at a distinct taste. Come on by for the free tour and a sample. If you like what you taste, we’ve spotted ads featuring St. Augustine Distillery’s vodka for sale ($24.99) at Publix Liquors. Here’s a link to the distillery’s Florida Mule (no, not the animal–the drink): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6SwbzcyGOk.
2. If you want to keep up the good spirits—literally—then visit San Sebastian Winery. It’s in walking distance of the St. Augustine Distillery. San Sebastian is part of the largest winery in Florida, the Clermont-based Lakeridge Winery. You’ll enjoy a free tour to learn how wine is made and sample at least six types of wine. The winery also has a jazz and wine bar upstairs.
3. Take a stroll on St. Augustine Beach. Don’t get so lost in St. Augustine’s history that you forget to enjoy simple pleasures at the beach. During strolls on the beach over several days, we found unusual crabs, a starfish, surfers, and a beautiful black lab who swam far out in the ocean to retrieve his ball. The sand was solid enough for easy walking and even biking. For just one dollar if you’re not fishing (and a couple of bucks if you are), check out the view high atop the St. Augustine Beach’s pier.
4. Dine at The Floridian. Want an interesting twist on your farm-to-table meal? Then The Floridian Restaurant is for you. Sample grit cakes, a Georgia cheese board, a vegetarian cornbread stack (choose between blackened fish or a flavorful tofu), or brisket posole. The menu also features the Datil pepper, a heat-packing pepper native to St. Augustine (and hard to find outside of the area). Many of the ingredients at The Floridian are sourced from Florida or Georgia farms, and the fish are often caught in the Sunshine state. We’re getting hungry just thinking about our return.
5. Find some ghosts. Perhaps the catchphrase for St. Augustine should be “Got Ghosts?” From the kitschy to the serious, the city is filled with ghost tours thanks to its 500-year history of battles and strife. (Do some searches on YouTube for the show “Ghost Hunters” to discover more about the town’s haunted past.) Basically, the city is one big cemetery, which can only lead to ghosts, if you’re a believer. Even if you’re skeptical, you’ll still have fun and learn something new on tours like Ghosts and Gravestones, the Ripley’s Ghost Train Adventure, the St. Augustine Lighthouse Ghost Tour, and the Ripley’s Castle Tour. Make sure to rent special devices for the tour that are said to detect the presence of spirits—and take lots of pictures. For the record, the Ripley’s castle tour is where we felt the strangest sensations of something else present….
6. Get to know the gators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. This long-time attraction actually began in the late 1800s as a home to a few reptiles, and it now has hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, venomous snakes, and wild animals. For the shutterbugs in your family, check out the Wading Bird Rookery for excellent photo ops of egrets, ibis, wood storks, and other birds making their home among gators. It’s like going to the swamp from the safety of an elevated deck. For the “wild animals” in your family, there’s a zip line attraction.