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St. Augustine, FL may be America’s oldest city, but that doesn’t mean it’s a sleepy little town. Established in 1565, the city was founded by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who gave it the name, “San Augustin,” after the feast day of St. Augustine. According to legend, that was also the day his ships first spotted the Florida coast.
Today, St. Augustine is known for its Spanish colonial architecture as well as its stretch of beaches, thanks to its location by the Atlantic Ocean. The city has also become an affordable and popular alternative destination for families looking to avoid the Disney drain.
From graveyard tours, to fishing, to spas, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to fill your vacation in St. Augustine. Check out our list of 6 recommendations.
1. Old St. Johns County Jail Tour
See what happened to wrongdoers in the old days, as deputies and inmates in period costumes treat you to a guided tour of cells, show you old weapons and tell tales of crime and punishment.
2. Potter’s Wax Museum Tour
Boasting over 160 sculptures of historic figures like Ponce de Leon, Albert Einstein, and Princess Diana, not to mention Michael Jordan, Angelina Jolie and the cast of Harry Potter, you’ll love snapping photos at the wax museum.
3. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
You won’t believe your eyes as you explore three floors of mind boggling artifacts and exhibits, including shrunken heads and cannibal skulls.
4. Ghosts & Gravestones Tour
See the spooky side of St. Augustine as you ride the “Trolley of the Doomed.” You learn about supernatural landmarks, hear tales of murder, and possibly get a peak at ghost-child Elizabeth, who – spoiler alert – dies of yellow fever.
5. Gainesville Bass Fishing Trip
Soak in the sunshine, relax in the scenery and cast your rod into the Rodman Reservoir. You may or may not catch any trophy bass, but you’ll definitely have a good time with the kids. While you’re in the boat, keep your eyes peeled – in this part of the state it’s no uncommon to find fish, turtles and alligators swimming in the water beneath you.
6. Spa Day at Casa Monica
Treat the kids and yourself to a family spa day at Casa Monica, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel first opened in 1888. While the hotel aesthetic combines old-world charm with elegant refinement, the newly-open Poseidon Spa is a bright and modern oasis for personal wellness.
Enjoy a mother-daughter mani-pedi, or luxuriate with a couples massage. Spend the day in the outdoor pool and soak up the Florida sunshine.
End the night with award-winning Mediterranean cuisine at the hotel restaurant, Costa Brava (above). From its tasteful decor to its flavorful dishes, the restaurant perfectly captures the old-meets-new spirit of St. Augustine. Try something new for dinner, order up a favorite desert and take it all in.
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