St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the United States (founded in 1565!), and takes pride in its Spanish colonial architecture and history. If you are planning to visit St. Augustine on a budget, this list of free things to do in St Augustine will help you enjoy the sights without breaking the bank!
St. Augustine is a cute little town, full of history, shops, culture, and restaurants. Plus, the beaches are beautiful and the weather is mild all year round!
The town has a wonderful “old time-y” feel, and has tons of museums and attractions to explore and enjoy, for all ages!
Don’t forget to check out our Florida packing list before heading out on your trip!
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I was lucky enough to have gone to college for a year in St. Augustine at Flager College. If you’ve done any research thus far about St. Augustine, you know the town is pretty much centered around the college- and it’s no wonder why! It is absolutely beautiful, and we will talk more about it later in this post!
There are tons of things you can do for free in the area if you are a resident (and have a valid ID as proof), but this list will focus on the free things to do in St Augustine that everyone can enjoy, regardless of if you live in the area or not!
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FREE Parking in St Augustine
Wondering where to park your rental car? As we all know, parking in any city can be a drag- it often takes forever to find any parking spot, no less one that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg or is a mile away from where you want to go!
Parking in downtown St. Augustine can prove to be tricky, especially during peak tourist times. However, you do have some options!
- It is important to note that on Sundays and national holidays, metered parking by the city is FREE!
- Additionally, metered parking is free before 8AM and and after 5pm, Monday – Saturday.
- You may also park in residential areas for free after 7pm
So, while you do have options (particularly in the evenings), where can you park for free during the day time? What about those busy tourist times when all these spots are taken? Here are some options:
- During the busiest times of year, the city runs a free shuttle bus. The shuttle also runs throughout the year for smaller events as well!
- You can also park your car for free until 5:30pm at the Fountain of Youth, which is about a 20-25 minute walk to the main downtown area.
- Additionally, there is free parking at the Old Jail, which is also about a 20-25 minute walk to the main downtown area.
- You can also find free parking at Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, which is only a 9 minute walk to downtown St. Augustine
FREE Things to do in St Augustine
Now that you have some free options to park your car, let’s talk about some free things to do in St Augustine! I’m all about budget travel, and love to learn all I can about how to save money on vacation, because traveling shouldn’t have to break your bank!
1. Walk on St. George Street
One of my favorite free things to do in St Augustine is to simply take a walk on St. George Street. As you learn more about St. Augustine, you’ll become very familiar with this street, as it is basically the main hub of the downtown area.
St. George Street is a pedestrian only street that is lined with tons of restaurants, shops, churches, bars, and more! There are also lots of smaller streets that come off of St. George Street that have lots of hidden gems to explore!
When I was in college, I would often walk up and down this street when I needed a study break, as it was just a few streets over from my dorm room.
It is a fun place to people watch, window shop, or grab a bite to eat! At night time, you’ll hear music coming from all the different bars and restaurants that line the street.
I recommend getting an ice cream at Kilwins, an ice pop at The Hyppo, or grabbing a slice of pizza at Pizzalleys!
Need a little spending money to buy yourself something nice on your vacation? Check out this tips for saving money for vacation. I’m all about saving money, but sometimes you need a little souvenir!
2. Free Beaches in St Augustine Florida
Another one of the best free things to do in St Augustine is to spend a day at the beach! If you are traveling to Florida, chances are, you are going to spend at least some time at the beach!
Before you head to the beach, make sure you check out this beach bag packing list so you don’t forget anything!
Thankfully, you can go to pretty much any beach around the St. Augustine area for free! However, there are some stipulations that may cost you some money. For example, if you want to drive on the beach (only some beaches allow this), you will need to get a pass that will cost $10 per day.
Otherwise, parking is usually free of charge! If you do happen to come across a beach that requires a parking fee, opt to park on side streets or in residential areas and walk to the beach instead to save yourself some money.
Most tourists go straight to the St. Augustine Beach with has a pier you can walk on, volleyball nets, playgrounds, restaurants, bait shops, and more! It is a great family-friendly place to spend the day!
A more quiet and serene spot loved by locals is Vilano Beach. Here, you can enjoy waterfront restaurants, walk the pier, or have a picnic!
To find quieter beaches during busier months, simply drive up and down the coast and park your car wherever you can to find a moment of peace on the beach!
PS. NEVER Make these mistakes at the beach!
3. Free Drinks in St. Augustine
If you are looking to do some free drinking in St. Augustine, you need to check out these two places!
First, St. Augustine Distillery offers FREE tours and tastings. Here, you can learn about the distillation process and watch the distilling team bottle the finished spirits! At the end, you get to sample 4 signature cocktails.
No reservations are required for the free tour, so come on in whenever the heat gets to be too much for you, and enjoy some free drinks!
If you are more of a wine drinker, the San Sebastian Winery also offers free tours and tastings! You’ll enjoy a short visual presentation, followed by a tour of the 5,000 gallon tanks where the wine is fermented to perfection!
After the tour, you can enjoy some free samples of the delicious wine! Next door you will find Whetstone Chocolate Store, who also has a tour and tasting (though not for free). You can also head across the street to Carmelo’s Pizza for a quick bite to eat!
Trying to stay healthy on your vacation? Make sure to read these tips!
4. Self Tour Flagler College
As a previous student at Flagler College, I couldn’t possibly write this list without suggesting touring the beautiful campus! Formerly known as the Ponce de Leon Hotel, which was an opulent hotel that housed some famous names such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt.
Today, it is a college and a major attraction among tourists. Because of the architecture and beauty of the building, you should definitely check it out!
Flagler College does offer guided tours. However, I personally would not recommend them. Most of the inside of the building is dorm rooms and classrooms now, with not much to see.
The only thing you get to see extra with the tour is the inside of the dining hall- which don’t get me wrong, is beautiful, but is still just a cafeteria.
Instead, you can walk around the campus yourself (some areas are off limit to non-students), but the beauty lies mostly in the exterior of the college. Additionally, make sure you check out the rotunda (which you can do for free), which is immediately after you enter the main building of the campus after walking through the courtyard. Make sure to look up!
As a student, I hated all the tourists walking through the campus. To me, I lived there. It was my home. So seeing strangers outside my window all the time did get frustrating. For this reason, please be respectful of students, and give them the right of way!
St. Augustine can get extremely brutal in the summer. Make sure you follow these tips to protect your skin and avoid sunburn!
5. Self Tour the Lightner Museum
Another one of my favorite free things to do in St Augustine is to explore the Lightner Museum grounds. Across the street from Flagler College, you’ll find the Lightner Museum, whose exterior greatly resembles the college.
The Lightner Museum used to be a hotel as well, known as the Hotel Alcazar, also commissioned by Henry Flager. Today, it is a museum that holds mostly American Gilded age pieces.
If you are interested in visiting this type of museum, it costs $17 for adults. Otherwise, I recommend just exploring the beautiful grounds!
You’ll find a beautiful fountain in the front, along with beautiful flowers and gardens. Don’t forget to head to the back courtyard. Here, you’ll find a bridge overlooking tons of fish, more flowers and gardens, and some shops to explore.
Tons of events and weddings happen here. I had the privilege of singing here during the infamous Night of Lights, which was beautiful at night!
This area is also great for some photo ops! Learn how to take the best vacation selfies, without having to ask a stranger to take your picture!
FREE Events in St Augustine
Depending on the time of year you are visiting, there are tons of free scheduled events you can attend! There are many of them, so this list will only touch on a few of my favorites!
6. Music By the Sea
Every Wednesday from May through September, you can find FREE music at the St. Augustine Beach pier, known as Music by the Sea.. Music typically runs from 7-8:45pm. Guests are encouraged to bring coolers, picnic blankets, food, and friends!
During the events, there are also food trucks in case you get hungry or didn’t bring your own snacks!
Enjoy some free music at the beach to end a long day of walking around town!
7. Concerts in the Plaza
Another one of my favorite free things to do in St Augustine is to attend Concerts in the Plaza! This is more free music and concerts you can enjoy every Thursday from June through September. Concerts last from 7-9pm, and are located between Cathedral Place and King Street.
Bring some chairs and snacks, and enjoy the variety of music that plays here!
8. Uptown Saturday Nights
On the last Saturday of every month, St. Augustine holds Uptown Saturday Nights. The event takes place along San Marco Avenue from 5-8:30pm, and features locally owned products, food and drink, and music! Take a stroll down this street and you never know what you might find!
9. First Friday Art Walk St. Augustine
On the first Friday of every month, St. Augustine holds an art walk, featuring 30 galleries! From 5-9 PM, you can explore all the varying galleries in downtown St. Augustine. Many galleries offer food and drink, music, and even giveaways!
10. Militia Muster and Training
The last of the best free things to do in St Augustine that I want to mention is the Militia muster and training. On the first Saturday of each month (except July), you can head to Fort Mose to experience live weapon demonstrations, including musket firings!
Children are also encouraged to attend, and can participate in the children’s militia training, and play with toy muskets and uniforms!
This is a great family travel activity, and a fun way to entertain and educate the kids!
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Want more ideas? Check out this list of more things to do in St. Augustine, Florida!