Pirates. Forts. Ghosts. A 165-foot lighthouse. With interactive sites and hands-on activities, St. Augustine offers children a lively history lesson they'll take with them to the classroom. Many first-time visitors are surprised to learn that St. Augustine was founded before both Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, and that Christopher Columbus never even set foot in the continental United States. It was Ponce de Leon, who once sailed with Columbus, who first landed in Florida 500 years ago, and Pedro Menendez who founded America's first European city 50 years later in St. Augustine.
You and your family can explore the country's beginnings at sites like the Fountain of Youth and Colonial Quarter. Shop for souvenirs and ice cream on historic St. George Street before letting the kids loose inside the nearby Pirate and Treasure Museum. More history awaits at a massive brick fortress on the bay, the Castillo de San Marcos, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse. For the boys and train-lovers in the family, the Old Town Trolley promises a full day of adventures hopping on and off at key landmarks throughout the city, or perhaps treat your daughter to a Cinderella-style carriage ride down the oldest street in America.
For families who love the outdoors, St. Augustine offers plenty of opportunities, from sandy Atlantic beaches to sunset cruises on a beautiful schooner. The area is also home to one of the world's largest estuaries, with raised boardwalks perfect for exploring Florida's natural side and maybe even spotting an alligator. Of course there's always just a lazy day on the beach, just soaking up the Florida sunshine and enjoying the secluded dunes that look the same as they did when the Spanish arrived five centuries ago.