This is a guest post written by Kristina Mobley. She was admitted to some attractions at no cost or a discounted rate. However, all opinions are her own.
We love the St. Augustine area. My family has been going here since my mother was a little girl. So, when I went back with my family recently, I was pleasantly surprised by all of the kid-friendly attractions. Here are some of our favorites!
6 Kid-Friendly Attractions in St. Augustine
- The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum – I don’t care if you are 82 or 6, you are going to enjoy this museum if you like learning about pirates.They have a variety of real artifacts, some of which include pottery and sword handles that been dug up in St. Augustine, a real treasure chest, one of the few remaining genuine Jolly Rogers, and treasure from around the world. The museum also boasts a plethora of interactive exhibits, which include two computerize areas focusing on famous pirates and their lives or areas of the world that had pirate activity. Other exhibits were more physical and interactive, some that were a hit with us were:
- The Scavenger Hunt. When you start the museum, they give you a paper to do a scavenger hunt! As you go throughout the museum, you look for drawers with skull and crossbones and after collecting the list, you turn in your filled our treasure map for treasure (“the treasure” is a plastic jewel, but it’s still fun)! The kids adored this and it really gets them looking throughout the museum.
- Lift a real gold bar and musket. Dad thought this was the coolest thing. The gold bar is in an enclosed box and you get to lift it through this claw contraction. We were so surprised by the weight. The same with the musket rifle, it’s a lot heavier than it looks!
- Learn about the different types of knots. In a replica ship, you have an area about knot tying. So test your skill and see how many ship knots can you tie!
- Guess the smells. There are boxes where you sniff and guess what the smell is such as leather or fruit. The kids thought these were fun to guess.
This museum was a good price of only around $15 for adults and it’s worth the time and the money. It was engaging and entertaining for everyone, we loved it!
- Sea Serpent Tours – This was by far one of my favorite activities in St. Augustine. Their website (http://seaserpenttours.com/) is wonderfully mobile friendly – you can book a tour right from your phone! I especially liked that I could even choose my date and time based on which tour I wanted to take.
Now, it can be confusing to get there. It is tempting to turn right too early to go to the boat ramp, but you need to go down the road a little further. There’s a small sign for Sea Serpent Tours on the big sign, so it will be easy to spot once you get there. When you get to the park, you will see how beautiful the area is! There are quite a few picnic tables for a picnic before or after the airboat ride, which I wish we did.
Sea Serpent Tours has a tiny house where you sign the paperwork, enjoy the local views, and wait for the air boat. The air boat seats 6 – plenty of room for our family of four. The seats are also padded bench seating and we were thankful that we didn’t feel squashed.
The airboat captain completely made the trip. He was nice, funny, knowledgeable, experienced, and helpful! He had a wide variety of facts to give us and was wonderful about slowing down and letting us take in the unique wildlife when we saw something.
1. Be sure to wear sunscreen. You are out on a boat for two hours, so you will want that extra protection.
2. Make sure your hat can strap on. The airboat goes fast during some parts and you will want to hang onto your hat tight! If you are worried about little hands losing their hats, then you might want to invest in some hats that strap under the chin.
3. Bring water bottles. You will get thirsty, so bring a few water bottles for the family. If you get hungry, you are allowed to eat little snacks as well.
4. Don’t forget a tip. You want to show some gratitude for a good job, right?
We started the trip with comfortable headsets that gave us a safety briefing and stories about local legends. We drove around the area then went through the river. The captain told us about the local plant and animal life, which sounds boring for kids but it was certainly far from that. He was so entertaining and it makes it all the better that we were lucky to see a lot of the local natives.
The captain told us about the history of the area and cool facts about everything from the trees to the alligators. Now, because it’s wildlife, you never know what you might or might not see. However, we got to see a baby ‘gator, a large alligator, different types of fish, and a huge manatee! We were especially excited about seeing the manatee feed on the greenery.
We cruised around and took in the beautiful sights. If you enjoy taking photos, then this is the place to do it. The stories and ghostly tales were also a bit of fun to provide some extra adventure for the kids.
I would highly recommend this new but absolutely delightful tour!
- Marineland Dolphin Adventure– Although it’s a little bit of a drive away from St. Augustine, it is well worth the trip. Especially if you are looking for some dolphin fun. If you haven’t been there in years, it has definitely changed! And you need to go back.
They are a field site for the preservation and protection of marine life. They have interactive educational tours that teach you about the location (historically the location was for innovative underwater filming for the movie industry) and all of the marine life that they study and assist there.
Don’t worry, you will definitely see dolphins and learn interesting facts about dolphins, whales, fish, and much more along the way! Did you know that starfish are actually called sea stars? It’s because they aren’t fish at all.
If you want to spend the extra money, you can even get in the water with the dolphins for a bit, which is an awesome experience I did when I was little; however, we did not do it this trip.
If you want to learn about the area and marine life, but especially want to be inspired by the awesome creatures that live in the ocean, then you need to plan a trip to Marineland.
- St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park – Technically this is on Anastasia Island, but it’s a short drive away. Also, be sure to pick up one of the coupon pamphlets around town, usually they have a few bucks off. Bonus!
If you love zoos, then this is the place to go. Obviously, they focus on all types of alligators. We got to learn interesting facts while actually getting to see the astounding variety of alligators and crocodiles, as well as monkeys, birds, snakes, and other creatures.
The guys were thrilled to pet a baby gator, watch the monkeys swing from the trees, and then watch as the giant alligators lazed about in the hot summer sun. However, their favorite part was watching the biggest gators in the park get fed. Be sure to mark your watches because those are only at certain times of the day; despite the limited viewing, it is quite a sight to see!
If you or any loved ones are fans of zoos or alligators, then this is the place to go!
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum – There are two nice things about going to this museum.
1. You get to see all the crazy exhibits which without a doubt are interesting and entertaining.
2. You get prime parking.
Ripley’s Museum is located within a short walking distance of downtown St. Augustine. If you buy a ticket to the museum and put it on the dash of your car, you get to park there for free for the rest of the day. This is especially nice since parking can get expensive fast downtown. Also, here’s another place to get that coupon book for since sometimes Ripley’s will offer a few bucks off their ticket prices.
If you have never been to a Ripley’s Museum, then you’re in for a fun time. The whole point of this museum is to have wacky, fun, astounding, and interesting exhibits, artifacts, art, and information. You will see everything from a moving replica of a two story erector set Ferris wheel and candy art of famous celebrities to exquisitely ornate ivory sculptures and pictures and stories of the largest man that’s lived.
Come to expect the unexpected. It is a museum, but kids love the variety and crazy things being shown.
- Project Swing Playground – This is not a museum, a zoo, or the beach (which their beaches are great for playing and for long walks here), but it’s a playground close to the downtown’s main parking garage.
It sounds silly to mention a playground, but this one has much, much more than the typical swings and slides. The Project Swing Playground is a 23,000 square foot playground which offers a unique wooden play space complete with tubes, towers, a fort, a space shuttle, and a lighthouse.
This was newly built when I was growing out of the playground phase, but let’s just say I wish I was a kid again. They’ve kept up this playground pretty well and it is a favorite for kids. It’s almost a reprieve between all of the tours and museums and is a nice stop to let the kids just play. However, it’s still a playground that brings that special fun that you expect when you are in the vacation bubble.
It’s free to go to, so just check it out. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to really play and explore. There’s too much to do for just 15-30 minutes!
St. Augustine has plenty to do for all ages, from the food scene to the historic forts, it’s a place to keep coming back to every year and you’ll still be finding more to do. We had a fantastic trip and look forward to exploring more in the future!
Do you have some favorite attractions in St. Augustine? Tell us about them in the comments below.