St. Augustine, Florida: Pirate Treasure, Trolly Tours + More in America's Oldest City

Did you know that St Augustine, Florida, is the oldest city in the United States? Founded back in 1565, it was the capital of Spanish Florida for 200 years (with a brief takeover by the British) until Spain ceded to the United States in 1819. This Florida beach town is full of history, and parts of the city make you feel like you stepped back in time. 

The nation's oldest city is a popular vacation spot for a reason. Walking through the Colonial Quarter in the historic district is ideal for taking in the old Spanish architecture. St. George Street is full of boutiques if you want to do a little shopping, or you can take a walking tour of the ancient city to take in all the sites. 

We've rounded up 11 of the best attractions in historic St. Augustine to add to your bucket list.

1. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

One of the oldest attractions in the entire state of Florida, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, first opened in 1893. What began as a small display of local reptiles, has grown into an incredible tourist destination that is also working towards conservation efforts, research and education. 

2. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

This historic lighthouse was built in the 1870s, on the nation's oldest port. At the top of the lighthouse, you'll get an incredible view of the city and the ocean, and you can learn all about the lighthouse in a behind the scenes tour of the Maritime Museum, set up in what was once the Keeper's House.

3. Lightner Museum

Located in the historic Alcazar Hotel in downtown St. Augustine, the Lightner Museum has an extensive collection of 19th-century art. At one time, the hotel even had the world's largest indoor swimming pool. Take a tour through the historic grounds or see a demonstration of antique mechanical musical instruments.

4. Castillo de San Marcos

The oldest masonry fort in the country was built by Spain over 300 years ago to protect its claims to the New World. It's also the oldest structure in the city of St. Augustine. You can take a tour through the interior to see where prisoners were once held or attend cannon firings and weaponry demonstrations.

5. Old Town Trolley Tours

What could be more charming than exploring America's oldest city in an old school trolley? Old Town Trolley Tours will take you by 22 local hot spots.

6. Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Juan Ponce de Leon explored this park in 1513 on his quest to find the fountain of youth. Now the park has various local exhibits that honor the area's rich history.  

7. St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

This incredible exhibit full of pirate artifacts was once based in Key West. Now located in St. Augustine, you can visit the museum to get a glimpse of what pirates really found in their treasure chests hundreds of years ago. 

8. Ghost Tours 

The oldest city in the country obviously has guided tours dedicated to the paranormal presence still haunting the town. For a comprehensive tour of all of the haunted hot spots, consider the Ghosts and Gravestones tour. 

9. The Old Jail

This historic site was first established as a jail in 1891. It continued to operate as a local jail until 1953 and is known as one of the most haunted places in the entire city. Its former inmates were the worst sort of criminals and paranormal experts believe their spirits remain inside its walls. The sounds of chains dragging along the ground, barking dogs, unpleasant smells and wailing have been reportedly heard inside the former jail.

10. Oldest Wooden School House

Located in the historic district, visitors can see the Oldest Wooden School House in the country. The structure dates back to the 18th century. 

11. Anastasia Island and St. Augustine Beaches

No trip to Florida would be complete without hitting the beach. Visit Anastasia Island and visit the city of St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County Pier for some fun in the sun.

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