(This article may or may not contain affiliate links. What does that mean?)
St. Augustine’s strategic location along Florida’s Atlantic coast served to “protect Spanish interests in southeastern North America.” Over the years, its historical significance continues to put its location at the top of best family destinations nationwide. St. Augustine is ready to host your family vacation this year.
St. Augustine has evolved into a place for family fun that boasts over 40 miles of beautiful beaches that first attracted Ponce de Leon to the sandy coastline so many years ago. Since my family and I spent many weekends over the course of two years exploring various spots along the St. Augustine coast, I would like to share some great spots that you and yours are sure to love.
NO TIME TO ENJOY THIS ARTICLE NOW? PIN IT OR BOOKMARK FOR LATER!
St. Augustine Beach
Best known for its white sandy coastline, St. Augustine Beach is amongst one of my family’s fav’s. Some of its amenities include a pavilion, multiple volleyball courts, bathrooms, showers, and concessions.
Public access begins at the St. Johns County Ocean Pier Park, and if you have a rental vehicle, then let your kids fill it up with sand because at St. Augustine beach, you have the option to drive right up to your chosen play spot.
Although you have to pay a $2.00 sightseeing fee to walk out on the pier, it is well worth supporting the county’s maintenance incentives. In fact, my son spotted his first dolphin in the water from its wooden boardwalk.
If you plan your vacation between May 1 and October 31, you will be here at the heart of the turtle nesting season. Please remember to follow these guidelines to help protect the beaches in St. Johns County and your family may be as lucky as mine was to spot a sea turtle crossing.
My son’s gaze never left the waves coming in to shore as I bicycled him around the packed sand along the beach in one of those kangaroo-style baby carriers that you have to spend five hours trying to figure out how to tie.
When my son began to feel restless after a day of dune-climbing and wave-jumping fun, he depleted his energy tank with a couple of well spent hours at the Splash Park at the Pier.
Vilano Beach is my personal favorite because of its many water sport activities such as jet skis, paddle-boarding, and kayaks. In addition, take advantage of the incredible photo opportunities available as you and your family walk across one of several dune crossover boardwalks available.
These boardwalks are intended to help preserve the dunes, so please take a moment to discuss its importance with your children before stepping off to your small piece of ocean paradise (that is until your loving kiddos sprinkle sand over your sandwich or take a mouthful themselves).
Depending on the age of your children, you should know that the water drops off much closer than other area beaches and its heavier surf attracts surfers to this location.
Don’t Miss! Best Things To Do In St. Louis With Kids
The Vilano Beach community has several small cafes, a great pizzeria, and other delightful eateries jam-packed full of flavor.
Your kids can also enjoy some time at the splash park near the main entrance to Vilano Beach and don’t forget to take a stroll down the free pier where you are sure to see a fisherman reel in a catch.
Residents consider Crescent Beach an authentic beach town that is perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway with your family. Crescent Beach is a less-touristy option, with wide-open beach space great for family picnics and an opportunity to soak up the sun without the noise of back-to-back concessions.
Within minutes, you can also explore both the nature trail or marsh trail surrounding the Matanzas National Park. My son enjoyed both of these trails, but if your little one’s don’t feel like walking, you only have to carry them for approximately a mile.
Older kids who feel more adventurous may enjoy a much longer hike around the Matanzas State Forest Loop Trail (clocking in at 5.9 miles). Before we left the area, I even booked a ferry for my family to visit Fort Matanzas National Monument.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Ponte Vedra Beach caters to all age groups, but the luxury resorts that line the beach give it that touristy vibe. Although I prefer a more laid back atmosphere, I found this beach to host the best selection of recreational opportunities.
Anastasia State Park
This park has 1600-acres ready for kids to explore. Abundant wildlife exists here, and with some planning, you could surprise your children with an exhilarating scavenger hunt or sign them up to participate in the park’s Junior Ranger program.
Anastasia Island offers tons of recreational activities for everyone to enjoy on its white sandy beaches and surrounding clear waters, and it’s still close enough to historic downtown St. Augustine.
As you adventure throughout the park, encourage your kids to be on the lookout for lots of exotic birds that call the park home. If your kids love to romp-and-stomp, take them along (like you had a choice anyway) to discover the Ancient Dunes Nature Trail (0.7 miles) or the Spanish Quarry Hike (0.5 miles). If you’re feeling extra-you-fill-in-the-blank, then venture out along the 7.3 mile long Cape Francis Beach Walk.
In addition, Anastasia State Park offers camping options, including tent pitches and full hook-ups for RV’s, if you truly want to leave civilization behind (or if you want to give society a break from your kids).
After The Beach
A trip to St. Augustine would be incomplete without a walk through the downtown area of America’s oldest city. As you meander through the cobblestone streets with your family, jump aboard the all-famous Red Train for a full-narrated sightseeing tour.
Once a stronghold for Spanish treasures, families can now cherish St. Augustine, Florida’s quartz white sandy beaches for the best family vacation under the sun.
When you feel like you really need to wind down after a day of marching behind your curious monkeys, let your kids marvel at the numerous 5,000-gallon stainless steel fermentation tanks while you take advantage of the San Sebastian Winery wine tasting tour on the go.
At the Castillo de San Marcos, volunteers dressed as Spanish soldiers capture your attention with a bang as they fire cannons over the Matanzas River.
Once your ears stop ringing, head downtown to explore the many things to do when in St. Augustine. Two of my personal favorites are yelling Arrrr Matey (in my best Captain Blackbeard voice) a thousand times at every boat my son see’s after a trip to the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and counting how many balls my son did not (intentionally) throw into the pond at Anastasia Mini Golf.
If your family needs a rest before pressing onward, take a seat at Cafe de Hidalgo to enjoy an ice cream or one of the other delectable treats available.
When You Go
JetBlue offers non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida. Find the best deals on Cheap’OAir below.
In Jacksonville, you can arrange for a rental car or taxi to transport you the remaining 45 minutes to the nation’s oldest city. Feel free to use this field to find the best deal on your rental car. Scroll through the many results. We’ve gotten bargains from the different vendors available.
Another option would be to book a flight from Los Angeles to Daytona Beach (DAB) or Orlando (MCO) which are located 59 miles or 124 miles away respectively. A day trip to St. Augustine from one of the above airports could be a great introduction to the state which “salts margaritas, not sidewalks,” as WanderFlorida so eloquently puts it.
A Hotel For Every Budget
On one trip, I found a wonderful little cottage-style beach house to change things up a bit one summer weekend by doing 30 minutes-worth of searching around on VRBO.
If you are looking for something with a bit of extra flair, then book yourself a stay at the exclusive Casa Monica Resort & Spa. Within walking distance to downtown St. Augustine attractions, Villa 1565 is a moderately-priced family-friendly hotel.
If you have kids who love trinkets, consider a charming bed and breakfast with colonial features throughout the city, that is, if you have the patience to keep those curious hands under control.
Enjoy Your Stay
With tons of fun things to do, plenty of gift shops to take your money, and one of the most stunning state parks in the nation, the old city of St. Augustine is simply a gem that sparkles even when the sun is not out (but you don’t have to worry about that- you’re going to sunny Florida where it’s sunny for 237 days of the year).
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE CONSIDER SHARING OR PINNING IT!