Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Our family had been hearing how great St. Augustine was to visit from several friends for months. Since it was only a few hours drive from where we live in South Georgia, we made a day trip to the Old Town. St. Augustine was well worth the drive! We had a really fun day checking out the fort, walking around St. George Street, and eating some amazing food.

St. Augustine-A great weekend getaway for families!

When planning this trip, three awesome destinations were recommended to us. The first stop was the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. We really wanted to make the trip as educational as possible for the kids and soak up all the history that St. Augustine has to offer. Of course, my kids love watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and so we had to include this stop. The second spot was the Colonial Quarter just next to the pirate museum. Lastly, we made the short walk across the street to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the main attraction.

Viewing the Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

The monument was a really enjoyable experience. The kids did a scavenger hunt here, took some really unique pictures, and even got to see the live cannon firing demonstration. The volunteer reenactors dress in Spanish colonial uniforms and give all the firing commands in Spanish, giving the experience a unique authenticity. Upon completing the scavenger hunt the kids earned their Junior Ranger Badges from the National Park Service park rangers. Over the years my children have done several junior ranger programs but the staff here were great about talking to the kids and helping them through the workbook. Exploring the fort was pretty cool. To walk on stonework that was several hundreds of year old was an experience. We really got a great sense of this piece of history. The pictures we took were pretty cool too.

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum

This museum was full of great artifacts from the age of the pirate. There were marvelous flags, gold doubloons, swords, hats, and lots of interactive exhibits for the kids. The staff dress in costume and walk around offering information and such. There are tours available if you are interested. We just wandered as a family. Inside there were replica cannons that the kids can “fire”. A small room off the back of the museum has a short movie you can watch about the time period. The sword Johnny Depp used as a prop during the Pirates of the Caribbean movie was on display too. The museum has an excellent gift shop with every pirate novelty you can imagine. Dad walked away with a great book he found called, Blackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast. Two of the boys pooled some allowance money to buy a pirate gun and sword set. This completed their complete uniform they said. As you can see in the picture above, they already had the hat and coat. Outside, there is a cannon and old stocks to pose in. The pirate museum was really a lot of fun for the kids.

The Colonial Quarter

After leaving the pirate museum, we walked next door to The Colonial Quarter. This attraction is basically a living history village, complete with a blacksmith’s shop, woodworkers studio, and several other historical buildings. Staff dress in period clothing and give tours of the village. The tour guides really take their history seriously and know it very well. We were so enthralled with the historical information presented that we forgot to take pictures during the entire tour. There is an observation tower at the property that overlooks the fort. That is how we got such great views from across the street. As I said, once up in the tower, we snapped out of it and began taking pictures. In the parade ground of the village, the kids were given wooden toy guns and invited to take soldier training. It was playful and the tour guide gave gentle commands and the kids had some fun participating. Here are a couple pictures from The Colonial Quarter.

Things to know about the Castillo and St. Augustine.

  • It can be be very warm in Florida. No, really. We went in May and it was hot. Fill a couple of Nalgene bottles and carry plenty of water.
  • You can have a great time in a single day in St. Augustine but there is so much to do that we are already planning a visit lasting several days in the very near future.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Walking around the city shopping and exploring is a big part of any visit to St. Augustine. You could easily become foot sore.
  • Trolley tours are running through the city all day long. It is possible to park outside of town and take the trolley tour into St. Augustine. Hop on/Hop off is allowed by the trolley companies. We did not do this but it seemed like a great idea for our next visit. It may save some tired legs.
  • We bought a combination ticket package that gave us access to both the Pirate and Treasure Museum as well as the Colonial Quarter for a discounted price. Call directly to either attraction for this deal as I have not seen it online.
  • Visiting the Castillo de San Marcos can be FREE! The Every Kid in a Park Initiative is awesome! 4th graders can get themselves and their families into the park for FREE! The pass admits all family children under 16 and up to three adults for FREE!
  • There is an amazing playground called the Project SWING playground, within walking distance of the Castillo and downtown St. Augustine. Parking space is limited so you may have to park in a parking garage.
  • Walking around St. George Street is a lot of fun. There are great ice cream shops, boutiques, chocolatiers, and art galleries! The kids stood watching a taffy puller for several minutes, mesmerized.
  • Food! We ate at two great places: O.C. White’s for lunch and Pizzalley’s for Dinner. O.C. White’s had great outdoor dining and Pizzalley’s was a great respite from the heat. Both had delicious food and we recommend them both for lunch or dinner.
  • We stayed outside of town, near the World of Golf, to save a little money. St. Augustine lodging downtown can be a little pricey. Our hotel for the night was the Holiday Inn-St. Augustine.
  • Anastasia State Park in a popular spot in St. Augustine for camping. It is very popular and your visit here does need to be planned well in advance.

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