The Beautiful Saint Augustine Adventures - Night's of Lights Celebrations and Much More!

Updated: a day ago

Saint Augustine is uniquely located in the Upper East Side of Florida. Known for it's history, time has preserved much of this city for us to enjoy and learn from. Man has restored quite a bit.

This location makes it easy to travel to from many other places. Close to I -95 and I-10, road trip access is a straight shot. Being a 45-minute drive from Jacksonville makes it close to the hub, and airport. An hour North of Daytona, the International Airport and Speedway are just a drive away. Access to this area is easy, making it a favorable experience!

The Oldest City in America - discovered before Plymouth Rock, Spanish colonists sat down for a meal of shellfish, alligator, tortoise and wild turkey with members of Florida’s Timucua tribe 50 years before Columbus. Cobblestone streets, historical landmarks and pristine beaches set the stage for tons of art, a funky upbeat vibe, and tons of things to see and do. And we love to visit!

Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the United States. Here you’ll find “the oldest” everything, wooden school house, house, jail, port, and first Catholic Mission, you may also visit the State’s oldest attraction aka the Fountain of Youth.

What’s fun about this very walkable old town area is that its extremely interactive. Tours, trolley's, free tastings, samples, pirates, colonialism, are oozing from the city gates. It’s a city that caters to the tourist, but you won’t feel like a tourist, you feel like you are a part of the party. During the day there is a constant movement of explorers, all on a mission to discover something new. At night everyone is eating, drinking, and enjoying this place, and if you are fortunate enough to catch this during the holiday season, their Night of Light’s event will spark Christmas Spirit in the weariest corners of your mind.

Yes! The Night of Lights is one of the biggest in the country, with over 3 million lights lit for the festivities, more info below...

We have visited St. Augustine MANY times during the years. From the 5th Grade annual field trip to the oldest city to explore the Fort, aka Castillo De San Marcos, and the Flagler College, to road trips up for Christmas pictures, and even a professional conference, I will share my personal favorites and our family go to’s.

First question: Is Saint Augustine Affordable?

As a single mother of 4, we would drive the 2.5 hour car ride rather than stay the night. Lodging is where the costs add up. There is so much to see and do for free, or almost free. I will start with those activities first. Really just walking in and out of the streets and seeing all the landmarks is great. We would come up just to explore. However, as the children get older and are willing to pitch in, I have found more bang for my buck so to speak by choosing one “splurge” activity each time we visit. These over time add up to some great memories that provide awesome context. I will also share our favorite splurge items. However, I can’t emphasize enough how easy this city is to explore on foot. The great thing is to park (preferably at the Visitor’s Center where parking is free) and wander the whole place.

Let’s dive in to a good plan!

Best Things to do:

Castillo De San Marco is the #1 attraction here. Visit the monumental fort made of coquina rock, which changed hands many times, but was never breeched! As a National Park you enter for $15.00/ per person 15 and older. Children under 15 are free with a paying adult, or get in free with your America The Beautiful Parks Pass. There are some free days through out the year (usually in line with the federal holidays so check the website below if that’s your preference. This is an awesome experience. Full of history and beautiful views.

Hop on Hop off Tours:

Tickets are $32.59/ per person when purchased online, and provide 1 day of unlimited re-boarding 22 Old Town Trolley Stops. These trolley’s are a great alternative to walking. The farthest stops are the Oldest Jail, and the Oldest House, which are a couple of miles apart. If you stop at the Visitor’s Center you can get your tickets, park for free and then continuously hop on and off. This is great to me if you don’t want to walk, and get there early. Ride times are between 10:00 – 4:30 and trolley’s run every 15 minutes.

*I recommend walking if you are able, as the stroll itself is so rewarding, however if you can’t, or you want to hear the history, it is worth the experience! Get there early to make the most of this offer.

Night of Lights:

This can be completely enjoyed nights between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve.

BUT, it would be really cool if the Hop on Hop off Trolley were free (select nights they are).

From Saturday, November 20, through Thursday, December 30, (2021) the City of St. Augustine offers a Free Park and Ride Shuttle Service for Nights of Lights. When operating the service runs from 1:00 to 11:00 p.m. on most days, and from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 4th — the day of the Christmas parade. Shuttle’s run from 1:00 – 11:pm.