Must-Do Activities for Your Out-of-State Wedding Guests
St. Augustine is probably one of the best places in Florida for a destination wedding. It’s great for larger-than-life groups that want to be able to walk from the hotel to an attraction to a restaurant and back to the hotel again. The city offers something for every demographic, from the flower girls who want to run around in a splash park to the groomsmen looking for an adrenaline rush, to great-great aunts Margaret and Mary who want to sit on the porch of a bed and breakfast drinking mojitos.
For anyone who travels to St. Augustine for a wedding, they will find much more than a church and a venue—they’ll find an out-of-state vacation with friends, family, and everyone else.
Now, you out-of-state folks may be wonder "What's so great about Florida? What's worth seeing on a Florida vacation?" Having taken just about every breath of my life in this state, sometimes I'm not completely clued in on the things that an outsider would notice. But, I have had the occasional visitor from Pennsylvania, and I spend most of my day answering questions from potential visitors. So even though I'm a Floridian through and through, I can think of a few things that non-Florida visitors may want to see on a holiday here.
1. Check out the local wildlife.
Out-of-towners are always fascinated with Florida's wildlife. Alligators, snakes, manatees, sea turtles and sharks--Oh my! They’re a sight for people who aren’t used to seeing them, and seeing hundreds and hundreds of them in one spot adds to the excitement. At the Alligator Farm, visitors can see the scaly guys for themselves. The good thing about the Alligator Farm is that it’s more than just hundreds and hundreds of alligators (that might actually be boring). The zoo includes other reptiles, birds, and even monkeys. Plus if seeing alligators up close isn’t exciting enough, you can see them jump up and eat raw meat during feeding time, or you can get some pellets and feed the little gators yourself.
For dolphins and other animals that make up Florida's marine life, check out Marineland just south of St. Augustine.
2. Fishing Charter
Florida has incredible fishing, and with a bay, the ocean, and rivers all around, St. Augustine is brimming over with fresh catch. Something that could be fun for visitors is to get the family on a fishing charter. Many are adapted to even young fishers who want to enjoy a day out on the water, and they can accommodate larger groups.
And when the fishing day comes to an end, you can enjoy some of Florida's delicious seafood (we're really good at seafood). There are lots of seafood places around St. Augustine that cater to different budgets. While seafood may cost a fortune in other parts of the country (and other parts of the world) the prices in Florida are more gentle on your wallet.
3. Pirate Museum
This has got to be one of my favorite museums in St. Augustine, and it’s one that the younger cousins always enjoy. To be honest, I'm not even super into pirates, but the way the museum is designed makes the information really interesting and engaging. Tampa Bay is often associated with pirates, but it's actually St. Augustine where a lot of the pirate action happened. In fact, the town was completely sacked by a buccaneer by the name of Robert Searle.
It’s no surprise that former Disney Imagineers had input in this project. Just like at the theme parks, the museum presents everything you need to know about pirates in a way that’s fun, engaging, and immersive.
4. Weapons Demonstration
For locals, cannon fire is nothing special. It really is like having Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle next door. And for most people, that would be a bit startling and odd to hear cannon and musket fire on a weekly basis, which is why most visitors from out-of-state always enjoy the weapons demonstrations at the Castillo. They happen every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. It includes cannon fire, muskets, and lots of dudes in colonial costume. Similar demonstrations also happen at the Fountain of Youth which is another great stop for wedding guests. The Fountain of Youth features a replica Timucua Village, Planetarium, archeological excavations and more.
5. Beach Day
There are 27 landlocked states, 1 of which is triply landlocked (meaning you have to drive through 3 states to reach a major body of water). So basically, those college friends from Nebraska are going to triple appreciate visiting the Floridian Peninsula for your special day. The beach is a big part of why people vacation to Florida, and why they get married here. Seeing the beach when it's such a rare occasion is exciting enough, but it helps that the surrounding beaches are so great to visit.
The waves at St. Augustine Beach are a nice balance between the stillness of the Gulf of Mexico and the insanity of California’s pacific monsters. The sand stretches out far with plenty of spots to park an umbrella and some beach chairs. If you're feeling super lazy, you can even take your car straight onto the beach by paying a beach toll at A Street.
6. Bar Hopping
My best memories from my sister’s wedding were honestly just enjoying a drink with family on the back patio bar at Meehan’s. My uncle's words to me and my cousins are still fresh in my mind: "If you mess with my nieces, I'll tear you to pieces." In fact, I regularly see wedding visitors enjoying activities at St. Augustine’s bars: bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners, after reception drinks. St. Augustine is most definitely the place to get married and to celebrate that. Each bar has such a unique and comfortable atmosphere, and many are walking distance from each other.
Any friends of the bride and groom or even family members can spend quality time with each other by just grabbing a drink and enjoying the evening air. As I mentioned, the Backyard at Meehan’s is nice, or Stogies if you like a cigar with your pint. Here are a few more.
7. The Lighthouse
Not every state has a lighthouse, let alone one that visitors can climb up. St. Augustine has both. The top offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great photo op, and in fact, quite a lot of proposals happen at the peak. For those who can’t make the trip to the top, there’s also a museum, shop, and grounds to walk.
8. Distillery Tour
Florida has long been a major producer of sugar cane, and where there's sugar cane, there's rum, vodka, and other delicious alcohol concoctions. It's true, there may be plenty of drinking at the wedding reception, but for adult guests ages 21 and older wanting to experience local craft alcohol in the most cultured way possible, the St. Augustine Distillery offers free tours with the option to buy some local gin, vodka, and rum at the end. For wine-lovers, there's also the San Sebastian Winery with rooftop terrace serving chilled sangria.
9. The Castillo de San Marcos
Honestly, no trip to St. Augustine is completely without a trip to the fort. The Castillo is the oldest masonry fort in the United States, and its the defining feature of the St. Augustine skyline. Most people come here for it, so why not? It's a National Monument and a national treasure.
10. Water Tour
If a fishing charter is something the father of the bride is more interested in than anyone else, there are lovely scenic water tours that take visitors through the estuaries and the surrounding waterways. The photos above are from Native Sun Tours which have a boat well-equipped for larger parties. See dolphins, scenery, wetlands--heck, they even have sunset cruises. What better way to close a day?
So wedding guests who are spending a lot of money to come to your friend's wedding in St. Augustine, Florida—do not fret! You've got more to be happy about than merely seeing your loved one tie the knot and enter into the beautiful and committed adventure that is marriage. You're in for a lot of memories, unique activities, and an unforgettable experience in the nation's oldest city. Cheers!