A Local's Guide to St. Augustine

Get the 411 on what locals enjoy in St. Augustine.

  • St. Augustine's history makes it a national treasure, an ideal vacation destination, and a comfortable place to call home. Most of us who live here are delighted that other people enjoy our town and all the great things to do and places to eat while visiting the nation's oldest city!

    To welcome our visitors into town and ensure everyone gets the most out of their stay, I've put together this guide with useful tips from a local perspective on how to spend your time here.

    Watch the Sunrise!

    There are 3 great places to watch the sunrise...

    1. St. Augustine Beach and Vilano Beach have the most spectacular and clear views.
    2. Along the bayfront from the Castillo to the end of the walk near the National Guard Headquarters.
    3. And finally, for those who enjoy a morning walk, the Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park in Lincolnville offers views of the Matanzas through the Freedom Chimes.

    Grab Coffee and a Pastry

    Les Petits Pleasures has authentic French pastries. If you're craving a little more, visit the Maple Street Biscuit Company where you can order fried chicken over a waffle, topped with real maple syrup. (Fun fact: the Maple Street Biscuit Company is on Cordova Street. I don't think St. Augustine even has a "Maple Street.")

    pastry coffee les petits
    A fresh-made pastry and Belgian chocolate hot coffee at Les Petits Pleasures.

    10 Can't-Miss Photo Ops!

    These are some places and props that every proud tourist to the Oldest City needs a snapshot with!

    1. The marble lions on the Bridge of Lions. Fun facts: 1. The lions are named Fiel and Firme, which translates into Faithful and Firm. 2. In 2015, lions Pax and Peli (Peace and Happiness) were added on the east side of the bridge.
    2. The statue of Henry Flagler in front of Flagler College
    3. A cannons (and the views) at the Castillo de San Marcos.
    4. Father Lopez statue at Mission Nombre De Dios
    5. The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
    6. The City Gate
    7. Top of the Lighthouse
    8.The shark teeth outside Tom's Seashells and Souvenirs near AIA and 312
    9. Sunrise at St. Augustine Beach
    10. Gomek outside the Alligator Farm

    Off the Beaten Path

    The Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, on Martin Luther King Ave., presents the history of African Americans in St. Augustine. The St. Photios National Shrine contains a Minorcan museum and beautiful murals, and a lovely garden for special events. It's easy to miss as it's located along the busiest area of St. George Street. Visit the Oldest House Museum on the south end of downtown and see what Spanish colonial life was like in Saint Augustine. 

    Buy Local Art

    Visit P.A.St.A. Fine Art Gallery if you're looking for a keepsake work of art on a budget. Get something unique, local, and affordable, at the First Look Artisan Market on San Marco, and at the Coconut Barrel Artisan Market on U.S. 1 South.

    pasta gallery inside art
    Local art displayed at P.A.St.A. Fine Art Gallery.

    Eat Local Dishes

    Fresh catch in Florida is popular, and the freshest catches come from Catch 27. Spanish-inspired dishes are also a must. Hit up the local Spanish Bakery and try their bread, soups, and cookies.

    The Hyppo has taken St. Augustine by storm. Try one of their gourmet and guiltlessly healthy popsicles made from crushed fruits and veggies. Cupcakes reign supreme in America, and everyone in St. Augustine loves Luli's Cupcakes. Grab some frozen, chocolate-covered Key Lime pie on a stick at the Key Lime Shop on Treasury Street.

    Away from the Crowds

    Get away from the chaos downtown by hitting up bars on the Island instead, including Panama Hatties and Odd Birds Cocktail Lounge and Kitchen, just steps from the Bridge of Lions..

    panamahatties building night 5x3
    Panama Hatties in St. Augustine Beach at night.

    Glossary of Parts of Town and Landmarks

    When a visitor asks for directions around town during their visit to St. Augustine, these are some landmarks and words residents will mention, and this is what they mean.

    The Island - Anastasia Island and St. Augustine Beach. There are 3 ways to get there. Over the Bridge of Lions, over 312, and over 206 at the south end.
    The Fort - The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. A 300+ year old fort on the bayfront. You seriously can't miss it.
    Flagler - Also known as the Ponce de Leon Hotel. It's currently home to Flagler College. The old hotel is a prominent part of the St. Augustine skyline.
    The Mission - Mission Nombre de Dios and the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, noticeable for the Great Cross that towers over the grounds.
    Uptown - From just north of West Castillo Drive to A1A heading for Vilano. This region is characterized by boutiques, antique stores, and small restaurants.
    Aviles - Hub for art and local restaurants, the oldest street in the city.
    Lincolnville - Located in the area of King Street and MLK. A historically African American community with strong ties to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
    The Plaza - The Plaza de la Constitucion is the park downtown with gazebo, trees, pavilion, obelisk and other monuments. Near the bridge of Lions and the Cathedral.
    Vilano - The beach across the Vilano Bridge on A1A north, past the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

    And remember, if you're having trouble navigating the city, pick up a St. Augustine Sightseeing Map & Guide in many of the stores around town, and don't forget to check out our listings for more things to do and places to eat!


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Updated: Thursday, March 4, 2021

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Visit St. Augustine

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