Located on Florida’s northern Atlantic coast, St. Augustine’s rich history, great beaches, and great climate make it a favorite location for visitors and residents alike. Residents who enjoy St. Augustine’s coastal living near some of the nation’s best beaches, but don’t want to be in a large city, still have easy access to all that Jacksonville has to offer. Although, those who live in St. Augustine may not wish to leave often, unless they need access to an international airport, because of the city’s quaint atmosphere, art and culture, and delicious dining options. Here’s everything you need to know in our St. Augustine Neighborhood Guide:
St. Augustine’s History
Those who visit or move to St. Augustine will soon realize the pride that local residents have in the city’s history. Established in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited city that was settled by Europeans. Until Florida became a territory of the U.S. in 1821, the area spent much of the time under Spanish rule, except for about 20 years. St. Augustine still has many landmarks from Spanish and British rule, and those looking for historic homes will notice the architectural influences of these periods. St. Augustine began to go through another period of development in the late 1800s after oil company magnate, Henry Flagler started the Florida East Coast Railway. Some of these turn of the century buildings still stand today.
Shopping in St. Augustine
Those who live in St. Augustine or on Anastasia Island have access to all of the big box retailers and two outlet malls along I-95. For smaller, local shops you will find shops and boutique stores with a wide array of items and curious in St. Augustine’s historic district. Several shops with clothing, antiques, gifts, surf gear, and more found on St. George Street. You will also find more shopping along King Street and Aviles Street, as well as along St. Augustine Beach. Here are some local favorites:
- St. Augustine Amphitheatre Farmers Market takes place each Saturday morning. In addition to fresh local product, you can find gifts, fine art, and free music. You can also enjoy yoga on the first Saturday of each month and the St. Johns County Public Library Bookmobile each first and third Saturday of the month.
- Second Read Books is located in St. Augustine’s historic district on Cordova Street right across from Flagler College. Book lovers will enjoy their great selection and the opportunity to find used and rare books as well as new books.
- Ayla Acre’s Thrift Shop is a distinctive shop on King St. in the historic district. Proceeds from sales support a no-kill animal rescue shelter. Customers can find furniture, collectibles, home decor, clothes, and more. They can also browse “Loretta’s Loft,” a collection of items donated by actress Loretta Swift from M*A*S*H.
Dining in St. Augustine
Part of St. Augustine’s vibrant atmosphere rests on the fact that the city has incredible dining options. Whether going out for date night, enjoying a family meal, or grabbing some lunch while shopping, St. Augustine delivers. Some local favorites include:
- Maple Street Biscuit Company is the place to go for breakfast when you don’t feel like cooking. Located in the Old City, they offer house-made jams and jellies, and a variety of different types of gravies to complement their freshly made biscuits.
- Ice Plant offers farm to table food and carefully handcrafted drinks. The building is an ice factory from the 1920’s where the owners freeze purified water in large blocks. Bartenders harvest the ice by chiseling large blocks to craft the perfect locally inspired drinks.
- Uptown Scratch Kitchen is one of the many food trucks in St. Augustine offering tantalizing cuisines for residents and visitors. Famous for putting a new twist on favorite dishes, try American classics like fried chicken, Philly cheesesteak, mac and cheese, and Florida favorites like Cuban sandwiches and a variety of shrimp dishes.
- Collage Restaurant provides a romantic backdrop for fine international cuisine, making it one of St. Augustine’s great options for a special night out. Enjoy an eclectic mix of locally sourced seafood and a variety of types of entrees that include chicken, lamb, and beef.
Art & Culture in St. Augustine
St. Augustine is close enough to Jacksonville to enjoy its arts and culture scene, but St. Augustine also has its own thriving art scene and engaging museums. The Colonial Quarter gives visitors an opportunity to learn about historical aspects of the city such as blacksmithing and how to use a musket; visitors can also walk along the Flags over St. Augustine boardwalk to learn about 450 years worth of flags. One of the most comprehensive histories of the city is found at The First Colony exhibit at the Government House Museum.
The city’s art community gathers each month for the First Friday Art Walk. The artists and gallery owners in the historic district, especially on King Street, have open houses with food and drinks. Additionally, you can find art festivals almost every weekend in the downtown plaza. You can easily find whatever type of art you need or want to decorate your home with local works.
St. Augustine Real Estate
St. Augustine’s rich history and vibrant feel extends to its real estate offerings. Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture remains common in the area, especially in the historic areas of the city. Buyers can also find waterfront homes, condos, and luxury homes in gated communities that are popular for second-home buyers looking to escape cold winters up north. The St. Augustine area also has vacant lots for sale for those who want to build their dream home from the ground up.
K-12 Schools in St. Augustine
Families who live in San Marco and have school-age children are served by St. Johns County Schools. St. Augustine has almost a dozen elementary schools scattered throughout the city, all of which feed into four middle schools: R.J. Murray Middle School, Pacetti Bay Middle School, Gamble Rogers Middle School, and Sebastian Middle School. High school students attend Pedro Menendez High School, St. Augustine High School, or St. John’s Technical High School.
St. Augustine Beaches
Living in St. Augustine gives residents access to some of the best beaches in Florida. The city’s beaches include Vilano Beach to the north, St. Augustine Beach, and Crescent Beach to the south. State parks serve as a popular access points, especially the unspoiled Anastasia State Park, where no motorized vehicles are allowed on the beach. You can also enjoy shopping, dining, and having a few cocktails on Beachfront Avenue after soaking up the sun all day.