Must See Historic Things to Do in St. Augustine, FL

If you love historical things to do then St. Augustine is the perfect city to visit since it lays claim to the oldest city in the nation! In this guide we’ll outline the top historic things to do in St. Augustine, Florida

Your Guide to “Must See” Historic Things to Do in St. Augustine

fountain of youth - tourpass

Fountain of Youth

 

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

A 15-acre archaeological park where visitors can learn about the first Spanish settlers and native Timucuans who were there already.

Here’s what you can do at the Fountain of Youth:

  • Take a sip from Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Eternal Hope, explore the rich history.
  • Navigators Planetarium
  • Live peacocks that roam the grounds
  • Blacksmith exhibit
  • Timucuan village & burials
  • Nombre de Dios Mission
  • Spanish lookout tower
  • Canon firings
  • Founders Riverwalk Pier

There’s also a nice gift-shop. The Fountain of Youth park is pet friendly, parking is free and ample on-site as well. 

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Lightner Museum - TourPass

Lightner Museum

 

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

Located in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, Lightner Museum occupies the historic Alcazar Hotel, a Gilded Age resort hotel built in 1888 by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Founded in 1948, the Museum is home to one of the premier collections of 19th and early 20th-century fine and decorative art in the country. Furnishings, paintings, leaded glass windows, cut and blown glass, and natural history specimens from the Otto Lightner Collection are exhibited against the backdrop of the magnificent Alcazar Hotel. Visitors to the Museum are invited to participate in an immersive experience of art, architecture, and design from Americas Gilded Age.

The Building
Completed in 1888, the Alcazar Hotel was the second grand hotel Henry Flagler built in the city of St. Augustine. Designed by architects John Merven Carrere and Thomas Hastings, the building stands testimony to Flaglers vision to transform St. Augustine into a premiere winter resort for wealthy East Coast tourists.

At the peak of its popularity during the 1890s, more than 25,000 guests visited the Alcazar. A major attraction of the hotel was its indoor entertainment and recreational facilities. The Alcazar boasted the worlds largest indoor public swimming pool at the time, a grand ballroom, sulfur baths, a steam room, massage parlor, gymnasium, bowling alley, archery ranges, tennis courts and a bicycle academy.

The Alcazar Hotel closed during the Depression, and in 1947 the building was purchased by Otto C. Lightner to exhibit his turn-of-the-century collection of fine and decorative art. The Lightner Museum opened two years later. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and today houses both the Lightner Museum and City government offices.

The Collection
Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner was fascinated by what people collected – a hobby that became his trademark and his passion, which is clearly reflected in the eclectic collection of late 19th-century and early-20th century artifacts on display at the Lightner Museum. Arranged over five floors, the Museum is filled with remarkable artifacts from this dynamic period in American history. Furnishings, paintings, mechanical musical instruments, and other curiosities transport you to the heyday of the Alcazar Hotel and its wealthy visitors. Today, the Lightner Museum offers a fascinating view of how beauty and luxury were defined in Gilded Age America.

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oldest house museum complex - tourpass

Oldest House Museum Complex

 

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

The Oldest House Museum Complex is owned and operated by the St. Augustine Historical Society. Admission to the Oldest House Museum Complex includes a guided tour of Florida’s Oldest House, a detailed history museum, ornamental gardens, a rotating exhibit gallery, surf museum, Marineland history exhibit and the museum store.

St. Augustine Surf Culture Museum
Located in the bottom floor of the Tovar House, the St. Augustine Surf Culture Museum tells the story of the surf community of St. Augustine, tracing the legacy of wave riding in the early twentieth century to the contemporary moment. This interactive museum interprets over seventy local oral histories, hundreds of historical images, hours of surf film, artifacts, memorabilia, articles, and historic surf boards.

Marineland Marine Studios Exhibit
The top floor of the Tovar House is home to Marinelands Marine Studios exhibit which takes a look at the rich history of modern day Marineland and highlights some of the firsts of the world of marine science, film making, tourism, architecture, and animal training.

People and Places of St. Augustine
The second floor of the Tovar House is home to this temporary art exhibit which includes locally produced folk-art to internationally known artists. The collection reflects the personages and environment of St. Augustine. Throughout the year, other temporary exhibits may be featured.

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Ximenez-Fatio House Museum

 

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

Brief History
In 1798, Don Andres Ximenez built this fine three-story home and warehouse of coquina for he and his bride, Juana Pellicer Ximenez. Juanas father, Francisco Pellicer led the Menorcan exodus of 1777 out of New Smyrna, from their illegal bondage by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Pellicer brought approximately 600 people to St. Augustine at the invitation of British governor Colonel Patrick Tonyn. Francisco Pellicer was also a master carpenter and may well have been involved in the construction of this home. In his original site plan, Ximenez included a grocery story and storage room, tavern, and billiard hall on the first floor, family bedrooms and living area on the second floor, and servants/enslaved persons living areas on the third floor. There were also two large warehouses that butted up to each other – what we now know as the first floor guest rooms – along with a detached kitchen and washroom.

Juana Ximenez died in 1802, at the age of 26. Andres followed in 1806. He was 53. The Ximenez family passed the property among them until 1825, when Mrs. Margaret Cook and her husband were given the opportunity to purchase an interest in 1/3rd of the house. She bought another 1/3rd interest in 1827, after her husband passed away. By 1830, Mrs. Cook owned the whole compound. She converted the home into a boarding house by turning the tavern into a lobby, the billiard hall into a fine dining room, and the two warehouses into four guest rooms. The grocery store and storeroom remained intact since it was such a profitable business. Mrs. Cook hired Eliza Whitehurst, a single lady, to manage her new boarding house. In June 1838, Mrs. Whitehurst died, most likely due to a Yellow Fever epidemic ravaging St. Augustine.

In July, Sarah Petty Anderson, also a single woman, purchased the boarding house from Mrs. Cook. In 1852, Louisa Fatio, the last of this impressive line of single women to either own or manage the property, became the manager of Miss Andersons boarding house.

In 1855, Miss Anderson sold the property to Louisa and moved to Tallahassee. Miss Fatio owned the property and kept it afloat during times of slavery, secession from the Union, re-occupation by Union troops in 1862, and Reconstruction. She died in 1875, having maintained the integrity, reputation, and prominence of this boarding house through a time when the term boarding house often had a very negative connotation.

The house spent the next several decades as an artists retreat until it fell into disrepair by the 1930s – yet the downstairs/grocery store and storeroom always housed some form of retail business.

In 1939, The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida purchased the property, and in the process of refurbishing the home, presented it for the first time to the public on May 6, 1940, as an example of historic home restoration. Please visit this amazing property at your first convenience. In the meantime, we have built this extensive website for you to virtually step onto our property, play our games, hear our stories, and read of our history.

Tour Pass LogoWant to Really Experience St. Augustine? Buy a TourPass!

Want to save money and visit all that St. Augustine has to offer? If so, then we recommend purchasing TourPass St. Augustine. You can purchase a 1-day pass which will more than pay for itself by visiting a few attractions.

spanish military hospital museum

Spanish Military Hospital

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

Learn about the amazing history of Spanish Colonial Medicine. Find out why the Spanish were 400 years ahead of their time.

Guided Tours:
Our fully guided presentation will take you back to the colonial Spanish days of medicine with both surgical and apothecary demonstration. Your journey to the past begins as our skilled surgeon performs surgical demonstrations. Watch as our Apothecary creates medicines and discover how colonial herbs were the origins of some of the most popular medicines today.

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villa zorayda museum - tourpass

Villa Zorayda Museum

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

This is a self-guided audio tour. The Villa Zorayda was built in 1883 as the winter residence of Franklin Webster Smith utilizing his method of construction, poured concrete and crushed coquina shell. Smith replicated architectural details of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain for his residence. The Villa Zorayda set a precedence for architecture in St. Augustine and began the Moorish Spanish Revival style of architecture that is seen throughout the city today as well as the concrete and coquina construction that was used throughout the city.

After 20 years as a residence, the building was leased out and transformed into the Zorayda Club, a restaurant and club where the most prominent guests enjoyed dining, dancing, and socializing. After Smith’s death, in 1913, the building and part of Smith’s collection were sold to Abraham Mussallem, an immigrant from Lebanon, who was an authority on oriental rugs and Egyptian artifacts.

The Zorayda Club
In the 1920s, the Zorayda Club became a gambling casino and speakeasy, and by the late 1920s, Abraham and his wife, Olga, decided to close the club and live in the building as their residence with their family. After a few years, the Mussallems realized how important the building was to St. Augustine’s history, and in 1933, they opened it as a museum, the Villa Zorayda Museum.

The Mussallem family have now been the guardians of the Villa Zorayda for over 105 years. First, with Abraham & Olga Mussallem, who operated it as a museum until their deaths, and later in the 1960s by their sons, Eddy and Wally Mussallem, who restored the museum and renamed it Zorayda Castle. Zorayda Castle closed in the year 2000 and underwent an extensive 8 year restoration financed by Eddy Mussallem, former Mayor of St. Augustine. Overseeing the restoration was Eddy’s daughter, Marcia Mussallem Byles, and her husband, James Byles. In 2008, the Villa Zorayda reopened once again as a museum going back to the original name given to it by Franklin Smith. Over 105 years and three generations, the Mussallem/Byles family have been the guardians of the Villa Zorayda.

Today, the 45-60 minute tour gives an in depth look at the historical significance of the building to the City of St. Augustine, the magnificent architecture, as well as descriptions of the many exquisite pieces you will see. The Museum features the priceless antique collections of both Franklin Smith and A.S. Mussallem. One of our most discussed pieces on display is the “Sacred Cat Rug” which is over 2400 years old and made from the hairs of ancient cats that roamed the Nile River.

It was Franklin Smith’s intention to bring part of Spain to Spanish St. Augustine and to educate his visitors about different cultures from around the world. We are happy to share the history of the Villa Zorayda with you and to keep Franklin Smith’s masterpiece open for the public to enjoy.

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castillo de san marcos - st augustine

Castillo de San Marcos

Built by the Spanish in St. Augustine to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument preserves the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States and interprets more than 450 years of cultural intersections.

The fort tour is self-directed.

Tour Pass LogoWant to Really Experience St. Augustine? Buy a TourPass!

Want to save money and visit all that St. Augustine has to offer? If so, then we recommend purchasing TourPass St. Augustine. You can purchase a 1-day pass which will more than pay for itself by visiting a few attractions.

oldest wooden schoolhouse - tourpass

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

The Oldest Wooden School House Historic Museum & Gardens welcomes visitors to the unique Minorcan homestead of Juan Genopoly, established in the late 1700s. Preservation, conservation, interpretation, and education are the cornerstones of this rich historic treasure. The Attraction The Old School offers the opportunity for people of all ages to see an ORIGINAL American Treasure. The Genopoly House has been preserved to reflect the homestead life of the Minorcan Settlers as well as school life in the 1800s. We are proud to provide recreational and educational entertainment for visiting families and students. The self-guided experience begins as the Professor comes to life and welcomes you! All visitors receive a diploma after exploring the Old School, kitchen and gardens! Tour reservations are encouraged for groups of 10 or more. 

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Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center

Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

The rich history of the Black experience in St. Augustine, Florida is also the history of the Black experience in America. In 1866, free men and women birthed Lincolnville: a community that found itself at the crossroads of history. Through exhibits and stories told from a local, intimate perspective, the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center chronicles 450 years of the winding road that is the black journey. Come and experience the journey for yourself.

Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center is an African American history museum located at 102 Martin Luther King Avenue in St. Augustine, Florida. It is located in the former Excelsior School, St. Augustine’s first black public high school.

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fort mantanzas - st augustine

Fort Mantanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument preserves the fortified coquina watchtower, completed in 1742, which defended the southern approach to the Spanish military settlement of St. Augustine. It also protects approximately 300 acres of Florida coastal environment containing dunes, marsh, maritime forest, and associated flora and fauna, including threatened and endangered species.

There’s a free ferry that takes visitors to the fort. Visit their website for the current schedule. 

Virtual tour of the fort…pretty cool

Tour Pass LogoWant to Really Experience St. Augustine? Buy a TourPass!

Want to save money and visit all that St. Augustine has to offer? If so, then we recommend purchasing TourPass St. Augustine. You can purchase a 1-day pass which will more than pay for itself by visiting a few attractions.

colonial quarter - tourpass

Colonial Quarter Experience Tour

 Full admission is included with TourPass St. Augustine

On the Living History Tour, you can imagine life in St. Augustine for hundreds of years. See and Experience how our citizens lived, worked and played while defending against attack. Learn about blacksmithing and cover your ears for a live musket demonstration! Visit a home that is over 270 years old. Climb the watchtower and look for ships on the horizon. The St. Augustine Colonial Experience allows you to understand the success of the oldest permanent European Settlement in North America. History awaits you.

  • Learn about Blacksmithing: This hourly demonstration explores how the colonial Blacksmith worked hard at the forge. He reworked old metal into tools, cooking utensils, strap hinges and nails.
  • Live Musket Demonstration: Join our tour as you lock and load your 17th century replica musket. The talented tour guides demonstrates musket drills, repairs, shows how to maintain the garrison’s guns, weapons and how to test and inspect firearms. Watch as they do a full musket demonstration.
  • Climb the Watchtower: Climb 35-feet to the top of the interpretation of a Spanish watchtower from the past for a birds-eye view of the Castillo de San Marcos and St. Augustine bayfront. Pinpoint the historic city’s landmarks and imagine what Spanish soldiers looking out would have seen and felt.
  • Walk Through History: Stroll the Flags Over St. Augustine boardwalk through the centuries beneath the very flags that have flown over this ancient city for over 450 years.

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Tour Pass Attraction Grid
tour pass charleston tour grid

Charleston Saving Examples

Save $111.40 per person which is 44% off of retail rates with a 3-day pass!

(Examples below are suggestions. You can choose whatever you’d like to do from the available tours/attractions.)


1-Day Pass Savings Example

Retail Price

1-Day Pass Includes: 2 featured tours + visit unlimited walk-in attractions for 1-day
Boone Hall Plantation (featured tour #1)$27
Carriage Tour (featured tour #2)$35
Nathaniel Russell House (walk-in)$12
Aiken Rhett House Museum (walk-in)$12
Charleston Fun Park (walk-in)$20
1-Day Without Pass$106
Cost of 1-Day Tour Pass($72)
Save 5%: Enter Email$3.60
Save per Person: 35% Off Retail=$37.60

1-Day Tour Pass Cost: $72

SAVE $37.60 PER PERSON, 35% OFF OF TICKET PRICES!


2-Day Pass Savings Example

Retail Price

2-Day Pass Includes: 3 featured tours + visit unlimited walk-in attractions for 2-days
Harbor Tour (featured tour #3)$30
Charleston Museum (walk-in)$12
McLeod Plantation (walk-in)$15
Charleston Tea Plantation (walk-in)$12
Deep Water Vineyards 9 wine tasting (walk-in)$7
2-Days Without Pass$182
Cost of 2-Day Tour Pass($117)
Save 5%. Enter Email$5.85
Save per Person: 39% Off Retail=$70.85

2-Day Tour Pass Cost: $117

SAVE $70.85 PER PERSON, 39% OFF OF TICKET PRICES!


3-Day Pass Savings Example

Retail Price

3-Day Pass Includes: 4 featured tours + visit unlimited walk-in attractions for 3-days
Ghost or History Walking Tour (featured tour #4)$30
Slave Mart Museum (walk-in)$8
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon (walk-in)$10
Gibbes Museum of Art (walk-in)$12
Palmetto Brewing free flight (walk-in)$10
3-Days Without Pass$252
Cost of 3-Day Tour Pass ($148)
Save 5%. Enter Email$7.40
Save per Person: 44% Off Retail=$106.40

3-Day Tour Pass Cost: $148

SAVE $111.40 PER PERSON, 44% OFF OF TICKET PRICES!

There’s no denying the saving and convenience that Tour Pass offers! Plus you can book your tours in advance with our amazing Mobile Pass that includes maps and detailed attraction information. The more you do the more you save. Imagine how much more you could save with a 4 or 5-day pass!

risk free guarantee

Pass purchases can be refunded (minus 3% credit card processing fees) if requested within thirty-days of purchase date (for unused passes). Optional Trip Insurance can be purchased for a nominal fee at checkout which extends the refund period up to one-year from purchase date. Conditions apply. View full refund policy by clicking button below.