St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights is the highlight of the city’s annual calendar. From November 23-February 2, Millions flock from all over the country to see 3 million white lights glitter in the trees and on the rooftops of downtown. And even if you’ve been in St. Augustine all of your life, there’s still an inescapable magic to the glow. But let’s face it – we’ve all just walked around the Plaza and along the Bayfront to see the lights. Maybe it’s time to mix it up and see the lights from a new perspective. Luckily, this city has plenty of tours that offer just that opportunity. So climb in a trolley or hop aboard a boat to see the 2019/2020 glittering display.
RIPLEY’S BIG RED TRAIN
Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train takes you on a magical trip through St. Augustine’s beautiful historic district Nights of Lights celebration. Tours are offered every night except Christmas. Tickets start as low as $12.99. Tours start at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium.
OLD TOWN TROLLEY
Sing along with carolers, sip on some hot cider, enjoy delicious cookies, and don’t forget to wear your special complimentary glasses for an enhanced, fully-immersive holiday experience. Tours depart from the Visitors Information Center nightly. Adult general admission is $13.99. Fast Track Passes are available for $18.99.
Sit, cycle, and enjoy music while cruising through downtown on St. Augustine’s newest addition – Ms. Christie, a 36ft peddle-powered cycle pub boat. Bring your favorite beverages and snacks for this amazing party cruise. This tour is available to guests 21 years and older. Tickets are $49, and the boat can hold up to 20 guests.
ST. AUGUSTINE CITY TOURS
Put on your free holospex viewing glasses and enjoy St. Augustine’s holiday lights in the comfort of a luxury 8-seater golf cart. Enjoy a complimentary hot chocolate drink and cookie before setting off on this excursion. Tickets are $15 or $5.99 for children under 12.
FLORIDA WATER TOURS
With complimentary hot cocoa served on board (and a shot of Irish Cream Liqour available for those 21 or older!), the Osprey is one of the best seats in town. A 75-minute tour with a fantastically entertaining crew, tickets for adults are $39 and tickets for kids ages 3-12 are $29. Little ones under 3 are $8. The 6pm tour is open to all ages; the 7:45pm and 9:30pm tours are adults only.
OLD CITY HELICOPTERS
Enjoy an utterly unique bird’s eye view of St. Augustine during the spectacular Nights of Lights celebration. Take the tour over downtown St. Augustine with up to three passengers for $180. Or you can enjoy an extended tour that includes a flyover St. Augustine Beach with up to three passengers for $310.
Alongside the city’s glittering display, the Freedom herself is decked stem to stern in over 2000 sparkling lights. Your sail comes complete with cozy blankets, hot chocolate, and cheer Christmas tunes. Departing at 4:15pm, the tour is two hours and reservations are highly recommended.
Leisurely and relaxing, enjoy the glimmering lights from a cozy carriage seat. The meeting location for the tour is across from Meehan’s Irish Pub on the bayfront. A small private carriage is $145 and holds up to 4 people. Additional guests up to 9 people can be added. The tour lasts approximately 30-45 minutes.
SCENIC CRUISE OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Aboard one of the oldest cruise tours in St. Augustine, you can enjoy Nights of Lights from the water on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights through December. From January through the end of Nights of Lights on February 2, the tour will be offered only on Saturday night.
ST. AUGUSTINE ECO TOURS
Choose from a few Nights of Lights options as you take to the water with St. Augustine Eco Tours. You can ride on either the 6 or 12-seater boats or add a little more to the magic by booking the Sunset Sail on the Catamaran.
ST. AUGUSTINE SAILING
Float away from the crowds aboard one of St. Augustine Sailing’s 75-minute sailing charters. Choose from six different luxurious vessels that will show you Nights of Lights in style. The tour departs from Camachee Cove Marina nightly either at 4:45pm, 6:15pm, 7:45pm, or 9:15pm. Each vessel can hold up to six people.
This tour is Christmas with a historic twist. Tours venture down smaller streets like Aviles and Cedar Streets, and avoid the lines and crowds of other tours as you experience the lights. Gold Tours offers private tours in an electric cart that holds 6-7 people.
THE TASTING TOURS
Plenty of holiday cheer abounds with the Tasting Tours! Choose from three different methods of Nights of Lights transportation – a group carriage rides that can accommodate up to 12 guests (with wine, souvenir glasses, and maybe a visit from Santa); private carriage for two (or up to four) with wine and souvenir glasses; or a family-oriented ‘Roadster’ Rides that can seat up to 7 guests.
EXPLORE TOURS AND PICKUPS
These personable tours can seat up to 9-10 guests and are not restricted to a set route, so venture down the smaller streets displaying beautiful holiday decorations at famous bed & breakfasts. Explore the gorgeous lights at Flagler College and the Lightner Museum – through holiday glasses for a unique viewing experience!
BLACK RAVEN PIRATE SHIP
If you’re looking to add a little more fun to your Nights of Lights experience, there’s no better way than surrounding yourself with some seaworthy scallawags aboard the Black Raven Pirate Ship. Be entertained by a pirate crew singing Christmas carols, pirate tunes, and even telling a pirate joke or two. Tickets are $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children 3-12.
Featured image by North Florida Drone Solutions