The season of visitors is upon us again. The holidays are a time where friends and family flock from all over to our little slice of paradise to escape the cold or just find the warm company of loved ones. And as much as we enjoy their presence, it isn’t always easy to keep everyone entertained for long periods of time. Luckily, there are more than a few local spots to help you with that conundrum. From watching the sunset on board a ship to solving mysteries to climbing in the trees, we’ve rounded up some local outing and activities that will show off St. Augustine and be fun for the whole crowd.
SOLVE A MYSTERY AT AN ESCAPE ROOM
Encounter ghosts at the Lighthouse, run from zombies gone wild, or even be transported to the Jazz Age days of prohibition in one of the city’s three escape rooms – Escape U (pictured above), Grande Royal Escape, and Xscape Our Rooms. Once the doors are closed and locked, you don’t have long to follow the story and the clues in order to complete your mission. Nothing brings family together like combining your puzzle-solving skills for a daring escape.
GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE AT THE ST. AUGUSTINE WILD RESERVE
Family and friends big and small will enjoy this wild tour where you’ll meet the big cats and exotic animals of the local sanctuary. Guests will be given a guided tour of the 7-acre animal compound by an experienced wildlife professional. An introduction to each species, basic biology, and how the animal arrived at our sanctuary will be discussed in detail, and you’ll get up close and personal with white tigers, orange tigers, a very rare golden tabby tiger, American black bear, lions, ligers, servals, cougars, lynxes, leopards, and a host of wolves. Reservations are required for a tour.
GLIDE OVER THE TREES ON A ZIPLINE
For the more adventurous groups, hang on tight to a local zipline and see parts of St. Augustine in a whole new way. The zipline at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm (pictured above) will have you soaring over the enclosures of wild crocodiles, exotic alligators, and park guests. Or take a trip to the St. Augustine Aquarium to climb in the trees and glide over the marine life. An outing like this will let you and your guests see the wildlife of St. Augustine in a whole new way.
EXPLORE THE CITY ON A SCAVENGER HUNT
If the city’s landmarks are feeling a little old hat – a little like a view you get as you sit in rush hour traffic on the bayfront – introduce your guests to some St. Augustine history in a new way, and take them on a St. Augustine scavenger hunt from Historic Walking Tours. Tour guide Kyle Rubio has coordinated a tour that will get you exploring the city, looking for clues, and uncovering some ancient mysteries. Spend an afternoon of fun exploring downtown. And even better – the scavenger hunt instructions are easily downloaded online.
TAKE TO THE WATER ABOARD THE SCHOONER FREEDOM
If you have a big group and you need an afternoon activity that will let you all relax and breathe a little easier, it’s time to take to the water. Florida’s mild winters allow for perfect sailing weather, and the languid pace of the Schooner Freedom will melt all your stress away. The sailboat tends to follow the wind, but the ride will take you along the Intracoastal and under the Bridge of Lions with a perfect view of the St. Augustine skyline. And this time of year, with the magic of Nights of Lights, the view is even more spectacular.
EXPERIENCE THE PARANORMAL ON A GHOST TOUR
As the oldest European city in the United States, St. Augustine has its fair share of ghosts. If your friends and family are intrigued by the paranormal, you can’t go wrong with one of the city’s myriad ghost tours. You can get up close and personal with four off-the-beaten-path haunted locations on the Everdark Express tour, hear the spooky stories from the comfort of a Ghosts & Gravestones trolley, investigate the Lighthouse on the Dark of the Moon tour, and plenty more.
TASTE THE CITY IN STYLE FROM THE ROCKIN’ RED ROADSTER
St. Augustine’s culinary scene is undoubtedly vibrant and thriving, but if you’ve got guests in town for only a short time, it’s hard to introduce them to all the best places. So instead of gallivanting around town for all your meals, hop in the Rockin’ Red Roadster and take a tasting tour. The guide will drive you and your guests around for three glorious hours of local food and wine or beer pairings. En route to the venues, you’ll get to see some of the best sights in the city.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH A DOLPHIN AT MARINELAND DOLPHIN ADVENTURE
If you don’t mind a short drive south of the city, an experience at Marineland Dolphin Adventure is unforgettable. They offer activities everywhere from a touch & play encounter with a dolphin to even signing up to be a trainer for a day. You can plan a shallow water interaction or learn some dolphin tricks in the deep end. Each encounter is educational, teaching you and your guests all about these amazing creatures and the conservation efforts at Marineland. They’re memories you’ll keep for a lifetime.
Featured image by Brian Miller