Make sure to bring sunscreen, water and an umbrella during the summer months. If you happen to have a fourth-grader (or homeschool equivalent), visit https://everykidinapark.gov/. Fourth-grade students in the US are eligible to receive a pass for free admission (for them and their families) to all US National Parks. The Castillo de San Marcos is included in this list.
Good to know
St. Augustine is sunny and hot nearly year-round. Rain is always a possibility, especially during the summer months. If you visit during the cooler months, dress in layers. Temperatures can shoot up 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more by lunchtime. The Castillo de San Marcos is only wheelchair/stroller accessible on the lower level. But bring the stroller anyway for the walk down St. George Street.
It’s always a good idea to avoid being outdoors in the Florida summer heat between about 12-2 p.m.
Recommended time of the year
July and August are the hottest months, but St. Augustine is tourist-friendly all year long. Visitation is lowest in the fall and highest in the summer.
Adult admission is $10 and children age 15 and under are free. Your admission is valid for seven consecutive days.
About This Day
Enjoy these activities in unique St. Augustine with kids. A fun day out, whether you’re staying locally, in a beach town nearby or taking the easy drive south from Jacksonville. St. Augustine, Florida has a weird and wonderful mix of old and new. First, explore the centuries-old, Castillo de San Marcos. Then, window shop alongside pirates on St. George Street and get a freshly made, gourmet ice pop at The Hyppo. Also, grab some tacky t-shirts or jewelry crafted by local artisans. Lastly, settle down for some slices (or lunch) at Pizza Time. Next door is also a Ben & Jerry’s and a gelato stand. There truly is something here for everyone to enjoy on your Florida family vacation.
St. Augustine with kids offers wonderful insights into Florida’s history. This town is especially rich in history and if you want to learn about it, start at the Castillo de San Marcos ("The Fort"). Castillo de San Marcos is 315 years old, which makes it the oldest masonry fort in the United States. There’s a lot to explore. On the lower level, you can walk through the rooms that once housed soldiers and prisoners. On the upper deck (not wheelchair or stroller accessible), you can check out the gun deck. An added bonus, from here you can catch a spectacular view of Matanzas Bay and all of St. Augustine. Rangers in colonial dress lead tours, fire the cannons and give weaponry demonstrations. My kids loved interacting with the "colonial soldiers," who are careful to stay in character. There’s also a large interior courtyard which offers lots of space for kids to play pretty freely. Which is always good on your family vacation - time and space to run around.
DIRECTIONS The Fort is walking distance from some downtown hotels and is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay. There is ample parking just outside for $1.50/hour. If you’d prefer shaded parking, there is a parking garage about a block away (located at 1 Cordova Street), where you pay $12 for all-day parking.
TIP The Fort is located on a huge lawn, perfect for picnics, kite-flying and free play. While I’d definitely recommend visiting The Fort’s interior at least once, our family is able to stay quite occupied without actually going inside.
St. George Street is small but mighty. This pedestrian-only street is only 1/2 mile long (800m) and was once the town’s main thoroughfare. Today, it remains a bustling highlight for both locals and tourists. It’s fun to walk down the street and window shop. Grab a Florida family vacation keepsake, from jewelry and gifts made by local artisans to cheap and tacky souvenirs. My favorite store is House of Z, where you’ll find gorgeous handmade sea glass jewelry and gifts. Call or check the website first - it’s only open a few days a week for a few hours at a time. You’ll also find lots of places to stop for coffee, ice cream, fudge, cold drinks, etc. If you’re in the mood for a local treat, try the gourmet ice pops at the Hyppo. They’re made on-site with fresh fruit and spices. Stop by Theatre Magic Shop for a free magic show. And, if you’re in the mood for more history, check out the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse (there is a charge for admission).
DIRECTIONS St. George Street is about a 5-minute walk from Castillo de San Marcos. Once you exit The Fort, cross San Marco Avenue (there is a traffic light and a pedestrian crosswalk). Turn left onto Fort Alley, then St. George Street will be the next right. Keep an eye out for horse-drawn carriages and pedicabs.
TIP Stop first at The Visitor Info Center (10 West Castillo Drive) where you’ll find clean restrooms. St. George Street is pet-friendly. It’s also pirate-friendly. There’s a good chance that you’ll see a pirate or two strolling down the street. You’ll also see people from all walks of life. Some of the shops are filled with breakables, and shopkeepers aren’t always kid-friendly.
Locals will tell you that Pizza Time has the best pizza in town. It’s New York-style pizza, and you can order by the slice. The garlic rolls are delicious. There is sometimes a line out the door at busy meal times, but the line moves quickly and it’s worth the wait. They serve gelato on the other side of the restaurant, but we haven’t tried it. It looks yummy though! There’s also a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop right next door.
DIRECTIONS Head south on St. George Street. Pizza Time is a 5-minute walk and will be on your right.
TIP Pizza Time is cash only. The counter staff like to move customers through the line quickly. You know that episode of Seinfeld with the soup shop? I like to compare it to that. However, they’re quite used to tourists so don’t stress if you need a moment to choose your slice.