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While St. Augustine is known for its charming streets, picturesque beaches, and rich cultural heritage, beneath its well-known facade lies a trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here are some hidden gems in St. Augustine that promise to ignite your sense of adventure and truly experience this historic Florida gem like a local. 

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St. Augustine Distillery

Tucked away on the outskirts of downtown in the city’s historic ice plant, The St. Augustine Distillery invites guests to explore its artisanal process, from grain to glass, through complimentary tours that showcase every step of their small-batch spirit production. Whether you’re a connoisseur of fine liquor or simply curious about the craft, a visit here promises an immersive experience, complete with tastings of their small-batch spirits bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka. After you’ve indulged in their tour downstairs, we highly recommend taking a trip upstairs to enjoy specialty cocktails and delish bites at their farm-to-table restaurant, The Ice Plant.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

The best views come after a good climb, 219 steps to the top to be exact. The city’s beautifully restored lighthouse holds the best panoramic views of both St. Augustine and the surrounding coastline. Before, or after, your trek to the top be sure to explore the variety of exhibits detailing the lives of the keepers who tended the light, marvel at artifacts salvaged from shipwrecks along Florida’s treacherous coast, and even participate in hands-on activities that bring maritime history to life. From its haunting tales of ghostly encounters to its vital role in guiding sailors safely home, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is a treasure trove of discovery, where every corner reveals a new chapter in the city’s maritime saga.

Lightner Museum

Stepping back in time to the elegance of America’s Gilded Age, the Lightner Museum is housed within the meticulously restored walls of the former Alcazar Hotel. Its ornate corridors and a vast collection of fine art will captivate you at every turn. Beyond its impressive displays, the Lightner Museum also houses a quaint cafe where you can enjoy a delicious bite in what once was the largest indoor swimming pool. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art buff, or simply a curious traveler, a visit to the Lightner Museum promises an enchanting glimpse into the golden age of St. Augustine’s past.

San Sebastian Winery

Set within one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings dating back to the early 20th century, the San Sebastian Winery offers visitors a taste of the Sunshine State’s finest wines with a hint of Old World charm. With a guided tour of the winery, where you’ll learn about the winemaking process from vine to bottle and gain insight into the artistry and craftsmanship behind each variety. Afterward, indulge in a wine-tasting experience, sampling a diverse selection of award-winning wines crafted from their locally grown Muscadine and hybrid grapes. Its panoramic rooftop views of downtown St. Augustine add to the ambiance, promising a memorable experience for wine enthusiasts and novices alike.

St. Augustine Wild Reserve

Far from the bustling streets and tourist attractions, this nonprofit refuge provides a haven for exotic animals from around the world. Visitors fortunate enough to secure a reservation are treated to a truly unique and intimate experience, where they can observe incredible creatures such as tigers, lions, bears, and wolves in a naturalistic setting. Their tours offer fascinating insights into each animal’s behavior, habitat, and conservation status, highlighting the importance of wildlife protection and responsible stewardship. With its commitment to animal welfare, education, and conservation, the St. Augustine Wild Reserve offers a rare opportunity to connect with nature and support the preservation of some of the world’s most endangered species.

Aviles Street

Aviles Street in St. Augustine is the oldest street in the nation dating back to the early 1600s. This historic street is also home to St. Augustine’s original artist district, in the 1930s when the Hamblin Hardware warehouse at 11 Aviles Street was transformed into studio and gallery spaces for artists.

Dating back to the 18th century. With its eclectic mix of art galleries, boutique shops, cozy cafes, and quaint bed-and-breakfasts, Aviles Street offers a quintessential Old World experience infused with contemporary flair. 

Still one of St. Augustine’s most vibrant arts districts, the street invites visitors to stroll along its cobblestone pathways lined with colorful buildings and boasts some of the oldest historical sites, such as the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum and the Spanish Military Hospital Museum. Sprinkled into the history you’ll find an eclectic mix of art galleries, boutique shops, cozy cafes, and quaint bed-and-breakfasts.

Colonial Oak Music Park

Nestled beneath the sprawling branches of a centuries-old oak tree in the heart of downtown the Colonial Oak Music Park is a hidden oasis where you can enjoy live music, food trucks, and community events under the shade of a majestic oak tree. Whether you’re lounging on the grassy lawn, swaying to the rhythm under the shade of the majestic oak, or exploring the surrounding historic district, the Colonial Oak Music Park provides a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that captures the spirit of St. Augustine.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Located just south of St. Augustine, the Fort Matanzas National Monument offers visitors a captivating journey through Florida’s colonial past. Accessible only by ferry, this hidden gem transports visitors back in time to the 18th century, when Spanish forces constructed the fort to defend the southern approach to St. Augustine. Stepping onto the tranquil shores of Rattlesnake Island, guests are greeted by the imposing stone walls of the fort, which stand as a testament to centuries of history and conflict. Explore the fort’s interior, climb to the top for panoramic views of the Matanzas River, and wander the surrounding nature trails, where native flora and fauna flourish in the unspoiled wilderness. With its scenic beauty, rich historical significance, and secluded location away from the hustle and bustle of downtown St. Augustine, the Fort Matanzas National Monument offers a peaceful retreat and a window into Florida’s colonial heritage.

Fort Mose Historic State Park

Just north of St. Augustine lies a park of profound historical significance, Fort Mose. Founded in 1738, Fort Mose provided refuge to Africans fleeing slavery in the British colonies, offering them freedom and protection under the Spanish crown. Today, visitors can explore the park’s tranquil grounds under the sprawling oaks, a reconstructed fort, and nature trails winding through marshlands overflowing with wildlife. With its powerful narrative of resilience, resistance, and freedom, Fort Mose Historic State Park stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of those who sought liberty in the face of adversity, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and cultural explorers alike.

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Where to stay

After a long day of exploring all of St. Augustine’s hidden gems, recoup with a relaxing stay at  The Local – St. Augustine! Conveniently located on Anastasia Island, just minutes away from historic downtown and St. Augustine Beach, The Local will be waiting with its comfortable rooms, unique amenities, and dreamy pool.

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