5 Ways to Fall for St. Augustine
At the beginning of October, St. Augustine residents begin to notice it. A hint of cool air in the morning breeze. When you feel it, you breathe a sigh of relief. Summer is on the way out, and another beautiful autumn in St. Augustine is beginning.
Don’t get me wrong – we love summer, and everything it brings. It’s just a little long. When the kids have been back in school for almost a full month, it really shouldn’t be summer anymore.
With the coming of the fall season, everything changes. You open up the house to let the air in, maybe even do a little “fall cleaning,” and you finally want to go out and start doing stuff.
Fortunately, there’s plenty to go out and do during St. Augustine’s fall season – not just for residents, but for our visitors as well. Here are just some of the things you can do during the fall in St. Augustine:
1. Get lost in a maze ...
... at the Sykes and Cooper Farms Corn Maze and Harvest Festival. This annual event is a St. Augustine tradition in October. This year, the Festival will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from October 7 to 29, 2017, and will include hay rides, a pumpkin patch, cow train rides, farm animals, and a children’s play area.
Sykes and Cooper Farms Corn Maze from 2015, when St. Augustine celebrated its 450th anniversary.
But the main attraction is “The Maize,” an award-winning nine-acre maze, with corn plants instead of hedges to mark the boundaries. It’s a challenging puzzle with a new design featured each year. There’s also a special kid-sized maze called “Jack and the Cornstalk.”
Sykes and Cooper Farms is located at 5995 Brough Road, on SR 207 in Elkton, FL 32033. The Corn Maze and Harvest Festival is open from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
2. Indulge your foodie fantasies ...
... at one of St. Augustine's outstanding food festivals. Something about the town seems to attract fine chefs and gourmet customers. These two festivals coming up soon will please the most discriminating palate:
St. Augustine Food & Wine Festival
The St. Augustine Independent Restaurant Association (SAiRA) presents the St. Augustine Food & Wine Festival on Sunday, October 1, 2017, at the River House. This event offers visitors the opportunity to sample a variety of food selections from around 20 different St. Augustine restaurants and more than 100 wines from all over the world.
It’s all to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of St. Augustine. Tickets are $55 in advance and $65 at the door.
St. Augustine Restaurant Week
Now that your gastronomic juices are flowing, it's time to prepare your appetite for a brand new foodie celebration this year—St. Augustine Restaurant Week. This event will be held from Monday to Sunday, October 2 to 8, 2017, and will showcase some of the best local dining with prix fixe lunch and dinner menus available at select restaurants. Some of the finest restaurants in town, including the Raintree, the Reef, and Sunset Grille, will participate in Restaurant Week, presenting signature dishes that will dazzle your taste buds without damaging your wallet. Find details and a complete list of restaurants.
3. Go Greek ...
... at St. Augustine’s 20th Annual Greek Festival, which showcases the rich Greek culture and history that have played a big part in the history of the Ancient City. From Friday to Sunday, October 13 – 15, 2017, visitors can enjoy all things Greek – Greek food and drink, Greek music and dancing, a Greek agora (outdoor marketplace), a Kids’ Zone, and much more—all set in a re-created Greek village.
The Festival is presented by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, with a portion of proceeds going to a local non profit. The Hellenic Band will perform throughout the weekend and Greek dancing will be provided by both Nisiotes and Asteria Greek Dancers.
Festival hours are from 3 to 9 p.m. on Friday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Festival takes place at Francis Field, located adjacent to the Historic Parking Facility. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 14 and under as well as active-duty military and their immediate family. For more details, call (904) 829-0504.
4. Search for the Great Pumpkin ...
... at one of St. Johns County’s numerous pumpkin patches. You may not find Charlie Brown’s mythical pumpkin spirit, but you will find plenty of big fat pumpkins. Use them in your special holiday recipes, roast the seeds for a healthy snack, or add them to your autumn home decorations.
Here are some great places to find pumpkins in St. Augustine:
- The First United Methodist Church at 118 King St. in St. Augustine’s Historic District offers pumpkins from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day through the month of October. Admission is free; pumpkin prices range from .50 cents to $35. Call (904) 829-3459 for more information.
- At Spuds Farms, at 7485 Cowpen Branch in Elkton, FL, you can choose from already picked pumpkins or go out into the patch and pick one yourselves. Spuds Farms is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please call (904) 692-1244 for more information.
- In addition to their Corn Maze and Harvest Festival (see above), Sykes and Cooper Farms in Elkton, FL, has lots of pumpkins for sale during the month of October. Call (904) 692-1370 for more information.
5. Take advantage of some great deals ...
... and get free admission to these St. Augustine attractions and museums during the month of September (specific dates and other qualifying details are included below).
Smithsonian Museum Day is on Saturday, September 23, 2017, when FREE admission is offered at participating museums nationwide. You’ll need a printed ticket, which you can get through the Smithsonian. Here are some of the local museums that participate in celebrating Smithsonian Museum Day:
- The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is an icon of St. Augustine. The tower with its distinctive black and white stripes can be seen from all over town. St. Augustine is the nation's oldest port, and the Lighthouse is dedicated to the preservation of the past, as well as to educating visitors about our maritime heritage. The Lighthouse is open from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., and is located at 81 Lighthouse Ave. in St. Augustine. For more information, call (904) 829-0745.
- The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, which was a popular boarding house in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, remains one of the best-preserved colonial structures extant in St. Augustine. The museum is open from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and is located at 20 Aviles St. For more information, call (904) 829-3575.
- The Lightner Museum is located in the former Alcazar Hotel, which was built by Henry Flagler in 1888. The building was purchased in 1947 by Otto Lightner as the perfect place to house his Victorian-era collection of antiques and collections. The Lightner is located at 75 King Street, across the street from Flagler College. For more information, call (904) 824-2874.
- The Peña-Peck House is located at 143 St. George Street in the heart of downtown St. Augustine. This historic house museum was built circa 1750 of native coquina for the Royal Spanish Treasurer, Juan Estevan de Peña.It later served as the home for two British-Period governors, and has the distinction of being the last official seat of British government in the U.S. For more information, call (904) 829-5064.
- The Florida Agricultural Museum offers a glimpse into 19th-century rural Florida life, with a 460-acre living history exhibit that includes a five-building citrus complex, a 5,000-square-foot dairy barn, an 1800s farmstead, and the archaeological remains of a British colonial period sawmill. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and is located at 7900 Old Kings Road in Palm Coast, FL 32137. Call (386) 446-7630 for more information.
- The World Golf Hall of Fame is located at One World Golf Place, just north of historic St. Augustine. With plenty of entertaining exhibits and programs for visitors, the World Golf Hall of Fame recognizes the greats of the game, with artifacts, good luck trinkets, and other memorabilia from past golf masters. The Museum is open Mondays – Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and from noon - 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (904) 940-4123.
Don't forget to get your printed tickets here to take advantage of this offer on Smithsonian Museum Day.
Saturday, September 30, 2017, is National Public Lands Day, which is celebrated annually at national parks and monuments by offering free admission. The Castillo de San Marcos is a national monument, and the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Enjoy it for free on National Public Lands Day.
Find some good deals on lodging in St. Augustine
Speaking of good deals, you can find really great rates on lodging in St. Augustine at this time of year. Here are a few properties to check out:
- The Beachcomber on Vilano features gorgeous oceanside cottages with easy beach access and beautiful views of the Atlantic. Located at 10 Beachcomber Way in Vilano Beach, the accommodations are casually elegant, with that breezy atmosphere that only a beachside cottage can provide. (904) 471-3744
- The Ocean & Racquet Resort in St. Augustine Beach is a beautifully landscaped condominium complex right on the water. There are several condo units available here as vacation rentals, all of them fully equipped and with all the amenities of the resort—two outdoor pools, five Jacuzzis, tennis and racquetball courts, shuffleboard and horseshoes, and direct beach access. (904) 471-0932
- The Four Winds Condominiums in Crescent Beach offer a variety of units, from oceanfront townhouses to ground floor flats. Each unit has a private patio or balcony and is fully equipped for an extended stay. The property boasts two heated pools, a tennis court, a basketball hoop and a shuffleboard court. There are three walkover access points for beachgoers. Crescent Beach is on A1A about 20 minutes south of downtown St. Augustine. (904) 471-0683
- Vacation Rental Pros has over 400 vacation rental properties, from oceanfront condominiums to beachfront homes and historic downtown locations. They are experts at finding the perfect accommodations for St. Augustine visitors. (904) 385-3888
- For a change of pace, Devil’s Elbow Fishing Resort is a great waterfront getaway for vacationers looking for a resort experience where fishing and relaxation are top priorities.
Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, this resort offers family-friendly cottages that have been updated with modern conveniences but still have plenty of Old Florida charm. Guests can rent a fishing boat, or a kayak or canoe, or just enjoy being outdoors, and it's still just a 20-minute drive (with stunning scenery along the way) from downtown St. Augustine.
St. Augustine boasts an impressive list of places to stay for an autumn 2017 vacation that includes hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals
This article was originally written by Kate Hensler in Fall 2016 and has been updated to reflect events that will be happening in 2017.