10 Ways to Get Outdoors in St. Augustine
Hey you! Yes, you!
What are you doing inside? There’s light and life to experience outdoors.
As someone who lives to be outdoors as much as humanly possible, when deciding whether or not to relocate to St. Augustine, outdoor-friendliness was a key deciding factor, and ultimately a selling point.
Lucky for me, and all of my fellow outdoor enthusiasts planning a visit to St. Augustine, not only is the city the historic foundation of our nation and a tourism destination for those throughout the states and beyond, it’s outdoor-friendly. Whether you are in the market for some serious legwork or prefer a more leisurely time of exploration, the nation’s oldest city has it all.
Did I mention fall is just about the perfect time to make a visit to Florida? While many parts of the country are already being coaxed indoors thanks to biting wind and piles of snow, not here, not us! As an added draw, November just so happens to be the driest month on record in St. Augustine. Thanks to virtually rain-free skies and mild temperatures, during the daytime hours, you can pull off wearing what I like to refer to as the Five S's on a regular basis: sunglasses, shorts, a sweater, sandals (or sneakers), and a scarf.
- Sunglasses: Florida is the Sunshine State, after all.
- Shorts: When the temperatures are in the 60s, it feels nice to let your legs run free while soaking up some Vitamin D.
- Sweater: The lightweight kind of sweater that other parts of the country might scoff at is oh so fitting for Florida.
- Sandals (or sneakers): I once hated flip-flops, but was told when I moved to St. Augustine, I must own a pair. Needless to say I caved, and now I wear them every single day. Depending on how much activity I’m doing, I regularly alternate my flip-flops with street shoes, like sneakers.
- Scarf: I know a scarf might seem slightly silly when paired with shorts and sandals, but trust me when I say, you’ll want to have a scarf with you since you can always count on it to be breezy by the bayfront and the Atlantic Ocean.
Now that you’re dressed and ready for some outdoor fall fun in St. Augustine, here are 10 ways to get outdoors (and stay there) this season.
1. Downtown Wandering
Whether you are flying solo or traveling in a pack, the streets of Historic Downtown St. Augustine are filled with enough sights and sounds to keep you entertained all day long and well into the evening hours. From coffee shops to art galleries, downtown has countless stops for you to take advantage of while you wander. As an added wandering bonus, if you decide to venture down the acclaimed St. George Street, the only traffic you’ll have to watch out for are other sight-seeing pedestrians. If you arrive at St. George around 11 a.m. just as the shops are opening their doors, you’ll be able to wander at ease without being forced to dodge an abundance of fellow tourists. Sidenote: While downtown, you owe it to yourself to step inside Flagler College at least long enough to tilt your head back and look up at the magnificent dome ceiling.
2. Two-Wheel Cruising
If you own a bike that you don’t mind towing with you on your trip, cycling offers an inviting way to experience downtown St. Augustine, and get some aerobic exercise in the process. If you don’t have your own set of two wheels you feel like carting along, you can easily rent a bicycle during your stay. Situated in the heart of downtown at 125 King Street, St. Augustine Bike Rentals offers a large selection of wheels, including bicycles. These wheels are available for rent by hour, day, week or month, with drop off/pick up options available.
3. Lighthouse Climbing
A short drive or bike ride from downtown St. Augustine over the Bridge of Lions will lead you straight to the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Climbing the 219 stairs to the top of this landmark will give your legs some work and grant you panoramic views of the area’s landscape. If you’d rather have more of a thrill, you can always wait until nightfall for a Lighthouse visit and opt to partake in a ghost tour.
4. Park Exploring
Happen to be a hiking or camping fan? Situated on Anastasia Island in walking distance of the Lighthouse is Anastasia State Park. This state park includes more than 1,600 acres for you to explore. Such exploration opportunities include camping, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, swimming, picnicking, fishing, boating, windsurfing, hiking and more. For those seeking to stay overnight, the park’s full-facility campground provides you a serene wooded area to rest your head.
5. Ancient City Running
While the beach is a prime spot to kick back and relax while listening to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean roll in, thanks to its wide shorelines and hard-packed sand, the beach is also an ideal place for a run, especially when the tide is out. Of course, you don’t have to stick to the sand. Downtown St. Augustine’s small radius and high number of pedestrians make it a safe and readily navigable terrain. Plus running is always a great way to learn your way around a city. If you time it right, you can make it to the top of the Bridge of Lions just before the drawbridge opens and take a timeout to enjoy picturesque views of the bayfront. If you are looking to make your trip a true “runcation” (vacation centered around a race), almost every Saturday during the fall season there is a 5K race to participate in.
Here are a few upcoming races of various distances taking place in St. Augustine:
- Shut Up and Run 5K: This Thanksgiving Day run benefits the St. Francis House, a local shelter that provides food, a roof, and resources to homeless men, women and families in St. Augustine.
- Divas Half Marathon: A fun half marathon for every diva who likes running, dressing up, and enjoying fun free giveaways.
- Santa Suits on the Loose 5K: This holiday family run benefiting St. Augustine Youth Services features runners dressed in Santa suits and other Christmas-time costumes.
6. Market Shopping
Every Saturday morning the Old City Farmers Market sets up shop just outside the front gates of the St. Augustine Ampitheather from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Here you will find local farmers with fresh produce, as well as vendors offering natural juices, hot (or iced) coffee, homemade pastas, vegan muffins, local honey, baked bread, decadent jams, and more. The market also includes a variety of area artisans showcasing their crafts. If you are having an extended stay in St. Augustine and plan on doing some cooking during your time here, the market makes a great one-stop shop for your food needs. If you aren’t here on a Saturday, don’t fret, the market also sets up at the pier on Wednesday mornings, meaning you have two chances each week to take advantage of the great many goodies Old City Farmers Market brings to the table.
7. Authentic Brunching
Before embarking on a day filled with outdoor wonder, why not start things off with the most important meal of the day? Yep. You guessed it—breakfast! Downtown St. Augustine has several well-kept breakfast secrets that allow you to brunch like a local while starting your day outside thanks to patio seating. Here are a couple of top picks.
- The Yard Bird Cafe: Situated directly on King Street is Yard Bird Cafe. Thanks to original southern-inspired favorites like chicken and biscuits, if you’re looking for hearty and delicious, look no further than this breakfast stop. Open Tuesday - Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Yard Bird Cafe serves breakfast all day.
- La Floridita: Situated in the garden behind the Floridian is La Floridita. This Latin-inspired garden cantina is the Floridian’s newly-opened sister cafe, and serves up juices, smoothies, empanadas, breakfast burritos, arepas, plate lunches and more. Much like the Floridian, each dish prepared is crafted with local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. During the week, La Floridita is open Monday and Wednesday through Friday at 8 a.m. On Saturdays and Sundays La Floridita opens at 9 a.m.
8. Fort Touring
Both Historic Downtown St. Augustine and Anastasia Island provide you the opportunity to tour a historic fort and enjoy your natural surroundings while receiving a taste of history. If you time it right, you might even get to experience some historical reenacting, including a canon firing.
- Castillo De San Marcos (Downtown): While walking around Castillo De San Marcos is an experience in itself, you can also explore the interior of this mighty fortress for a detailed look at its history and coquina composition. For a more relaxed and less crowded visit, it is recommended to visit the fort early, or on a weekday. That said, there are perks to stopping by on a weekend, specifically if you plan your visit around a cannon firing. General Admission tickets to enter the fort are $7 and valid for seven days.
- Fort Matanzas (Island): What once guarded St. Augustine’s Southernmost inlet (or “back door”) from attack, is historic Fort Matanzas. Due to its location south of St. Augustine, many visitors overlook this prized historical monument. Upon entering the fort grounds, you will be shaded by giant live oak trees that are over 150 years old. If you care for an up-close view of Fort Matanzas a free boat ride will take you to explore.
9. Gaming on the Greens
If you elect to visit Castillo De San Marcos, the fort greens make an ideal, centrally located yet scenic spot to pause for a picnic or to run around and play games if you have the entire family with you. On a sunny fall day, you are sure to see the greens packed with locals and tourists alike. Still, these aren’t the only greens in town. Just a short drive up San Marco Avenue is the Mission Nombre de Dios. Here you can walk about the grounds, and take a seat on the greens in the shadow of the Great Cross.
10. Art Walking
All for art and art for all! Although art abounds in St. Augustine the entire month through, there are two specifically designated days of each month on which area galleries and other art-focused local businesses partake in an entire night dedicated to art.
- First Friday: Every first Friday of the month, downtown St. Augustine is dedicated to the Art Walk—a night of art, fellowship and festive fare. From 5 to 9 p.m. downtown galleries open their doors and invite you inside to view their showcased artwork. The best part? It’s all free. This means you can save your dollars for purchasing the artwork that you fall in love with.
- Uptown Saturday: Another eagerly awaited monthly art event is Uptown Saturday. On the last Saturday of every month, from 5 - 9 p.m., antique dealers and art galleries in the oldest city’s San Marco district hold this event. Uptown Saturday blends a laid-back party atmosphere with hospitality and special deals. Galleries, antique stores and shops located between Ripley’s Museum and the Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine’s San Marco Shopping District participate in this event.
More Fall Events
‘Tis the season for a an abundance of festive happenings. Before you plan your visit to St. Augustine, be sure to check out our events section, for a full list of all of the upcoming excitement.
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