What’s New in St. Augustine Florida -#floridashistoriccoast

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What's New in St. Augustine - a romantic carriage ride on Aviles Street in St. Augustine, Florida
A carriage on Aviles St.

As the summer turns into spring, I would love to be closer to a beautiful beach with killer sunsets. Although we often associate Florida with fairy tale princesses and ruckus beach parties, there is one very special place that I still think of often: St. Augustine. Located in northeast Florida it is a colonial town steeped in history while having access to 42 miles of pristine Atlantic Beaches. There are plenty of choices for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking.

It remains a favorite getaway for couples, families, seniors and girl’s getaway. It’s 455 years history runs deep. My last trip to this area was almost three years ago, I wanted to give you an update on what’s new in St. Augustine, Florida.

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Attractions & Tours

The Lightner Museum

When we visited on our Girl’s Getaway with #VisitFloria, we fell in love with many things but the highlight for me was the Dressing Downton Abbey exhibit at the Lightner Museum. If you are a fan of the show, you may want to read my blog post to get a better idea of how the Lightner curated their amazing collection with the wardrobe warn on this iconic show. You can also see a short video on the whole exhibition.

Lightner Museum, located in the former Hotel Alcazar, one of the Ancient City’s architectural centrepieces, recently completed a major first-floor renovation and opened its latest exhibit, Illuminate: Lightner Museum’s Stained Glass Rediscovered.

The Museum’s eclectic collection ranges from human hair art, cigar labels, buttons, salt and pepper shakers, to cut glass, porcelain, fine art paintings, furniture and sculpture all housed throughout the four floors of the original Alcazar Hotel. The Museum’s Director took advantage of the March – May 2020 shutdown to conduct some renovation projects including renovations on the Museum’s ground floor level to accentuate the building’s brilliant design creating bright open spaces in the new Museum Gift Shop, the Music Room and Science Room.  

Ceiling of the Lightner Museum St. Augustine Florida floridashistoriccoast @DownshiftingPRO

The Lightner Museum had a total renovation of its ground floor galleries, returning the former hotel’s 19th century Renaissance revival-style open floor plan into a bright airy space able to accommodate groups.

The result is a brighter, airier look beginning with the museum’s lobby where new flooring replaces carpeted walkways.  

The Museum’s Mezzanine level above the pool features the stunningly unique Illuminate exhibit of 12 stained glass windows and the Museum’s Dragon Fly Lamp, all from the collection of Otto Lightner. Each piece has been carefully restored for visitors to enjoy for generations. 

While some of the windows in this collection were made by Tiffany Studios, this display brings to light lesser-known manufacturers that worked with Tiffany during the late 1880s such as Willet Stained Glass and Rudy Brothers Glass Studio. The display focuses on portraiture, mythology and Art Nouveau, the theme at the forefront of stained glass in the early 1890s.   Lightner Mus

Flager College (former Hotel Ponce de Leon)

What's New in St. Augustine - Details of Flager College roof.
Detail of the roof of Flager College

Originally built as a luxury hotel where the wealthy northerners from New York and Chicago would come down for the winter season (from late fall to early spring). The Ponce de Leon Hotel opened in 1888 and has a Spanish theme throughout. It is currently the home of Flager College (once women’s only but now co-ed). Tours are given daily but you’ll need to make a reservation. All the tours are lead by Flager students. Take note of the Tiffany stain glassed windows, the largest privately owned collection in the world.

Ximienez-Fatio House Museum

The Ximienez-Fatio House Museum on Aviles Street in St. Augustine not only offers tours that demonstrate life in the mid-1800’s in old St. Augustine, but the museum is now also offering night-time tours and experiences that make history fun.  St. Augustine has long been known for its haunted history, and the Ximenez-Fatio is not an exception.

The Museum offers Twilight Tours that reflect on tales about Spanish merchants, soldiers stationed at St. Augustine, and the single ladies who ran their businesses. This house has centuries of stories within its coquina walls.  And, the Museum’s night tour,  Heist at the Museum has guests as pieces in a fun game of sleuth. The investigation is focused on a rare 17th-century Caravaca Cross that was produced in the late 1660s to celebrate the end of the Black Plague in Europe. The cross was stolen, and the villain is still on the property and has hidden the cross in one of nine rooms. Guests move about the house to catch the culprit and return the cross.

St. Augustine Aquarium

The St. Augustine Aquarium, interactive, educational and fun attraction allows guests to interact with some of Florida’s most beautiful marine species and touch invertebrates, feed the sharks in the shark and ray cove, or dig for shark teeth. For the adventurous, snorkeling up close and personal with sea life and hand-feeding fish and rays is all part of the fun. New this year is the shark painting experience where guests can get their very own shark masterpiece painted on a t-shirt.

What's new in St. Augustine?  New tours.

The Tasting Tours has added a fun Friday night tour, Pints with Pedro, where small groups of guests can take a walking tour with the city’s founder Don Pedro Menendez while learning about the city’s history and tasting ales and brews along the way.

Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine

The Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine is now open and showcasing a collection of classic cars, providing visitors the opportunity to experience cars from the 1800s to modern day sports cars.  One Saturday morning a month at the museum features Classic Cars and Coffee where auto enthusiasts grab a coffee and chat about their passion with others.

What’s New with Lodging

TRYP by Wyndham Sebastian St. Augustine

In 2017 we stayed at the TRYP by Wyndham Hotel and just loved it. It had very large and spacious rooms, a delicious breakfast and easy access to the colonial city core. The hotel provides a shuttle to downtown so you can leave your car at the hotel and enjoy a day in town without worrying about parking. This convenient service will help you explore and find out more about what’s new in St. Augustine.

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

There are plenty of options for lodging in St. Augustine but you may want to consider Ponte Vedra Beach. Accommodation choices include luxurious oceanfront resorts, posh boutique hotels, quaint and historic inns, numerous vacation rentals on the ocean and in the historic districts, several RV and camping parks, along with dozens of known and trusted branded hotel chains. A sprawling beachfront property since 1928, the historic AAA Five Diamond Ponte Vedra Inn & Club remains a storied refuge for outdoor recreation, family vacations, corporate retreats, weddings, and social events alike.

What's New in St. Augustine?  Consider taking a segway tour to see the city quickly and efficiently

Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa

Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach is offering the Work Resortly package as a way for families to take a break from their new norm. Guests who book the package receive pet-friendly accommodations in a Villa, complete with home-like amenities including a kitchenette and separate bedrooms—perfect for taking virtual meetings in private; high-speed WiFi and complimentary access to a printer for those important documents and other amenities.

In the coming months, there will be even more hotels and inns opening in St. Augustine. There are currently several hotels under construction including the Renaissance St. Augustine Historic Hotel, Hyatt Place Hotel on Vilano Beach, Homewood Suites Hotel along the San Sebastian River and several others. 

Food and Beverage

Blend authentic cuisine, a year-round abundance of fresh seafood, and inspiration from centuries of diverse heritage and you have the bold and diverse tastes to be found on Florida’s Historic Coast. Dine al fresco at one of the many waterfront eateries or side-walk bistros located throughout Florida’s Historic Coast.

The menus are teeming with flavors that tell the culinary heritage of the diverse peoples and cultures of today and those that have called this area home since 1565.   While closed during the Spring 2020, some restaurants on Florida’s Historic Coast took advantage of the quieter time to renovate and refresh.

Old Favourites

Catch-27

St. Augustine FLD @DownshiftingPRO 182

Catch 27 was by far my favourite meal in on our Girl’s Getaway. I wrote an extensive review on Google which you can find here. My favourite dish is no longer on the menu but I am certain the food is still amazing! This intimate restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating and a killer bar. The cocktails where carefully crafted and delicious.

Cafe Alcazar

If you stop at the Lightner Museum be sure to have lunch at Cafe Alcazar. Located in what was the former swimming pool of the Hotel Alcazar. The original hotel was commissioned by Henry Flagler. Across the street is Flagler College (the former Hotel Ponce de Leon).

The Floridian

The Floridian –  Innovative Southern fare for omnivores, herbivores and locavores.’ Regionally-inspired and fresh from the source, our cuisine is a synthesis of down-home southern comfort foods, and lighter, healthier, vibrant and creative dishes–with many vegetarian options. Simply delicious dining!

Whetstone Chocolates

What's New in St. Augustine - Whetstone Chocolates has a tour and there is a store.

After a hot but exhilarating tour of St. Augustine on a Segway, we headed to Whetstone Chocolates for a delicious chocolate milkshake and tour. It was great fun and we took some goodies back to our families.

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What’s New Food and Beverage

St. Augustine Distillery

Restaurants all-across Florida’s Historic Coast offer the option of dining in, delivery and curbside pick-up. Distillery tours, wine bars and breweries are another spirited way to explore St. Augustine, and there are several wine bars and craft beer tap rooms where locals and visitors alike can enjoy local IPA’s and Ales.

Raintree Restaurant

Raintree Restaurant, is located in a Victorian mansion in the city’s Historic District, completed a total kitchen renovation and dining room refresh, making their award-winning food service.  

St. Augustine Fish Camp

New restaurants open for business in 2020 include the latest gem in the Southern Table Hospitality Group crown of Northeast Florida restaurants, the St. Augustine Fish Camp. This new location on the San Sebastian River, is the result of a vision to create a restaurant with a neighborhood feel, the freshest seafood, amazing views, and old favorite entrees with creative, new twists.

Forgotten Tonic

Aviles Street is one of St. Augustine’s most treasured gems. Eclectic art galleries, crafters and important historic museums and great eats can be found here. The newest eatery on Aviles, Forgotten Tonic, is open daily for lunch and dinner and features modern twists on comfort food, an extensive wine list and craft cocktails. And like all eateries on Aviles Street, you can dine al fresco on the oldest street in the nation.  

Aviles Street 5 rgb hd
Aviles Street
Photo credit: Visitors and Convention Bureau of www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com

Peace Pie

Also on Aviles Street, explorers for St. Augustine treats will find Peace Pie which has become one of St. Augustine’s favorites dessert spots. Peace Pies makes the ultimate artisan ice cream sandwich – with a layer of pie filling and using specialty premium house-made ice cream along with home-made pie fillings, brownies and caramel.

Peace Pie has just expanded its offerings to include a selection of tasty mini pies. Lemon-meringue, pecan, raspberry custard and many more traditional pies take on Peace Pies’ artistic approach to ice cream and pies which are perfect for take-away treats to share with friends and family.  

Cocktails

Boat Drinks Bar in St. Augustine, a nautical tropical tavern with balanced cocktails and a bounty of fresh local seafood, recently opened its doors on St. George Street in St. Augustine. And of course, it was immediately honored by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Spirited Awards® as a Regional Top 10 Honoree for Best New Bar!    

Distilleries

Saint Augustine Distillery 39 rgb hd
Photo credit: Visitors and Convention Bureau of www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com

New to the collection of distillers, St. Augustine Distillery and City Gate Spirits,  is the Sailbird Distilling Company, the area’s only nano-distillery specializing in handcrafted small-batch Rum. They offer free tours and tastings at their St. Augustine location Tuesday – Saturday. Dog Rose Brewing Co., Ancient City Brewing, Old Coast Ales, and Bog Brewing, among others, have made a tasty impression here.

Wine continues to make a splash here as well. Visitors can tour San Sebastian Winery to learn about and taste this Florida vintner’s award-winning wines or visit the Carrera Wine Cellar, where there is no limit to the themed wine classes offered; and Bin 39 Wine Bar at the St. George Inn pours the best boutique wines from Sonoma and Napa valleys. Casa de Vino 57 offers wine lovers a charming walled garden atmosphere where they can enjoy a bottle of wine, cheese and charcuterie, and live music.

What’s New with Art and Music

Concerts are coming back online at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, The Colonial Oak Music Park  and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. The Amp, is ranked in the top three of the best open-air music venues in the world by Pollster Magazine. This “green” venue will re-open with live performances in November 2020 featuring performances by Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and the Dark Star Orchestra in December.  Some of the additional performances scheduled for 2021 include Aaron Neville Duo and Casting Crowns in March and Justin Moore & Tracey Lawrence in May.

Colonial Oak Music Park

Colonial Oak Music Park St. Augustine FLD@DownshiftingPRO

The Colonial Oak Music Park, a hidden gem with open-air seating under a live oak inside the Colonial Quarter is a small-stage venue where local musicians perform for free each weekend night.   With new acts coming soon, you’ll be able to see what’s new in St. Augustine’s arts community.

Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

This Fall, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall will feature live performances by Dave Mason (December 1) and A Peter White Christmas (December 8). Concerts and performances scheduled for January 2021 include Leo Kottke and Chris Hillman’s “Time Between: And Evening of Stories and Song”. Enjoy a stay on Florida’s Historic Coast to enjoy all that is new. And to make it a little sweeter, take advantage of some of the great vacation deals available.


In 2017, I was a guest in St. Augustine and visited and toured the city. Thanks to Visitors and Convention Bureau of www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com for the fall 2020 up-to-date information on events, activities, holiday getaways and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches. Some images were also made available for media use by the Visitors and Convention Bureau. For info on what’s new in St. Augustine check out their website, find them on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489. What’s New in St. Augustine.

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.

45 thoughts on “What’s New in St. Augustine Florida -#floridashistoriccoast”

  1. What an awesome trip! I love all things historical so this is right up my alley. But I’d prob spend all my time with the fishes and aquatic life!

    • Ruth, if you get a chance to see Florida, don’t miss St. Augustine. Florida is a huge state so there is much to see. It’s not all about Disney and South Beach. There are pockets of amazing places and St. Augustine is one of them. Thanks for dropping by.

    • I know, those of us who love to travel find it so very hard to be at home. This, however, is the time to read and make plans for the future. St. Augustine will be there when it’s safe to travel again. Hope you can see it one day.

  2. What a beautiful place! You have everything you need: wonderful new places to visit, delicious food and good weather! I need a vacation there!

    • It is pretty special. There is so much history and it is like no other city that I’ve been to in Florida. I certainly hope you can visit one day once it’s safer. Thanks for

    • Next summer will likely be a safer time to travel. Always good to do a bit of homework while we wait. Thanks for dropping by and reading! Hope to see you traveling again!

  3. I have never been to Florida, but we have been talking about wanting to go for years and do a family road trip. I would love to see a lot of these places!

    • I would love to visit this place and see all those new builts in person. These kind of places are really interesting for me.

    • There is plenty to see in Florida (it’s a huge state) but don’t skip St. Augustine it is lovely. Keep planning and maybe in the future you can see the amazing place that it is!

    • It does get overlooked when most people think of Miami beach an Disney. There is so much more to see in Florida. St. Augustine is a great destination. Hoep you can visit one day once it’s safer to travel.

  4. This was a fun read. I had a brief stop in St. Augustine several years ago. I stopped off to ship something and have a beer at one of the breweries on my way to Amelia Island. Hope to give it a proper visit and check out all the things to do. 🙂

    • I was the opposite, we drove by Amelia Island on our way to St. Augustine! I want to go back and see the beautiful beaches there. I hope you make it back to St. Augustine Debra… you’ll love it I promise 🙂

  5. It looks like there is a lot to do around there. I would love to be able go there someday. I can see so many fun things my family would love.

    • I wrote this with a girls’ getaway in mind but to be sure, there are plenty of things to see and do with a family. There are lovely beaches close by and plenty of history to learn.

  6. I still dream of Catch 27 and I think it was the devilled egg oysters appetizer. SO unique and creative. My favourite of all the restaurants we visited too. Anyways, glad to see St Augustine is still leading the way with some smart and safe options for visitors. The open air Colonial Park Music Hall is one of my favourite spots and it is ideal right now if you maintain social distancing because it is outdoors. I will never forget that Segway ride. The Trypp was great for our stay. Next time I visit I am going to that distillery though. I’d love to check it out and do a tour.

  7. I would love to visit St. Augustine. Sounds like there is so much fun stuff to do and see. I need to schedule a trip soon..

    • I’m not going to lie, museums are m jam. I LOVE THEM. The Lightner Museum was awesome. It has a strong focus on decorative arts do the Downton Abbey exhibit was exceptional.

  8. St. Augustine is one of my favorite spots in Florida! The history and the food make it a great place to visit anytime. I hope to make it down around Halloween one year!

    • It is a very different part of Florida. The contrast was very apparent from Jacksonville and St. Pete Beach where we also stayed. It is worth making a trip to St. Augustine.

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