A lone beam of light cuts through the inky sky, emanating from the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Somewhere farther inland, wind whistles through the crumbling gravestones of the Huguenot Cemetery as a figure, bearing a lantern, passes by. A horse whinnies and a carriage trundles along just out of sight.
It may sound as though these moments are recalled from centuries ago—they’re not. Visitors to the nation’s oldest city can experience them in addition to a slew of other historic and, dare we say, hair-raising activities nightly.
Settled in 1565, St. Augustine’s history books are filled to the brim with significant events. As the years have passed, St. Augustine’s soil has soaked up the blood of wars and housed those who committed murders, still unsolved to this day. Many believe these happenings have lent the city to take on the ghosts of citizens past, who still walk amongst the living.
Grab a pint at a pub with its very own ghost bar and rest your head in an inn rife with paranormal occurrences. You may not want to look over your shoulder, but you’ll surely have a spine-tingling good time as you set out to discover St. Augustine’s haunted history.
Play With Phantoms
Start your morning with a scare as you wander through one of St. Augustine’s centuries-old cemeteries. First used as the final resting place for victims of the 1821 yellow fever epidemic, the Huguenot Cemetery has been branded “Spirit Central” by Weird Florida, for the orbs and transparent figures seen within its walls. Huguenot Cemetery is open to visitors the third Saturday of each month.
Keep an eye out for shadowy figures as you wind up the steps and onto the landing of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, built in 1871 and still in use today. Featured in Season 2, Episode 19 of Ghost Hunters, the lighthouse is well known for its spirits. During their visit, the TAPS team were on the lookout for the ghost of a man who hanged himself on the property and a mysterious little girl who is said to roam about on stormy nights. They heard and saw the unexplainable during their visit; will you be brave enough to come back in the evening for St. Augustine Lighthouse’s Dark of the Moon tour?
If you’d rather explore these sites from behind the safety net of a group, consider reserving a spot on one of St. Augustine’s many ghost tours.
Slink behind a lantern-laden guide as they lead you through dimly lit alleys and delve into the city’s past on Ghost Tours of St. Augustine Inc.’s Ghostly Experience Night Tour. The tour relies on information from library and church documents, diaries and in-person interviews, and is sure to give you the chills—especially if you encounter the “swooping lights, unearthly fog and ghostly shadows” seen, and in some cases photographed, on these tours.
What better way to contact the dead than from the inside of a hearse? Ghost hunters can ride in Ghost St Augustine’s Everdark Express’ hearse as it glides past some of the city’s most haunted locales. A K2 meter, which analyzes electro-magnetic energy, is used throughout the tour to detect spirits.
For a more theatrical ride, hop aboard the Ghosts & Gravestones' trolley. The tour takes passengers past the city’s cemeteries and the Old Drug Store, opened in 1887. Step off the trolley and through the doors of the Old Jail—said to still contain the spirits of those locked within its walls long ago.
No one will judge if you need a drink after your haunting journey through St. Augustine’s past. Head to Scarlett O’ Hara Pub’s Ghost Bar for a snack and a spirit. Listed in the National Directory of Haunted Places, you may run into the building’s former owner, who met his untimely death in the very room that serves The Fountain of Youth today.
Or, make your way into the historic downtown for a meal at Le Pavillon. Have a seat in its upstairs dining room, but don’t be surprised if you’re visited by specters from years gone by. Dig into casual European fare and look out for moving objects, flickering lights and doors opening and closing by invisible patrons. Built in 1868, this Victorian-era home is as famous for its paranormal occurrences as it is for its rack of lamb.
A Spooky Stay
Wrap up your dive into St. Augustine’s haunted history with a stay in Lily’s Room at St. Francis Inn. Just don’t expect to rest in peace. The Inn, dating back to 1791, is known for the storied affair and tragic end of its former residents. Today, guests experience whispering and moans, locked doors opening, ice-cold touches, items moved, disembodied hands on the back stairs’ railing and visions of a woman in white gliding down the halls. St. Francis embraces its spooky reputation and offers a ghostly getaway package aptly named, “Paranormal Paranoia,” which includes a ghost tour for two, books about the local phenomenon, T-shirts and a recommendation to stay in one of the Inn’s “more active” rooms.