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Guide to Moving to St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida, holds the title of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States, founded by the Spanish in 1565. With its rich history, charming Spanish architecture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture, it’s a place travelers often end up calling home. It’s so stunning that it has been turning travelers into residents for nearly 500 years – it even earned the “Best Small Town in Florida” moniker from Southern Living Magazine.

Is St. Augustine a Good Place to Live?

If you’re moving to St. Augustine, you already know the allure of this beautiful piece of Florida. But you may not know the ins-and-outs of being a local here. First, get started with a quick and easy moving quote for St. Augustine, FL and next, start planning your favorite local haunts.

Historical Sites in St. Augustine

St. Augustine has an old soul, so you’ll find no shortage of history here. These are just a few places you can visit to understand the people who lived and shaped northeast Florida into what it is today:

  • Castillo de San Marcos: This centuries-old fortress is a National Monument and a must-visit. It is the heart of St. Augustine and is a stunning example of the strength of local coquina building material. Explore the stunning views from its bay overlook, cannons, and learn about its history through exhibits and guided tours. Many locals will even pack a picnic on occasion and eat on the lawn surrounding the Castillo.
  • Fort Mose Historic State Park: Just two miles north of Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Mose Historic State Park is the location of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in North America. Learn about this important 40-acre historical site at the interactive museum and stick around to spot stunning Florida wildlife. There is also a “Discover Fort Mose” Jazz and Blues Series here each February that brings in talent from around the country.
  • St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum: Climb to the top of this historic lighthouse for a stunning view of the city and learn about the maritime history of the area. Open 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily
  • Flagler College: Take a tour of this beautiful campus, originally a luxury hotel built by Henry Flagler, the famed railroad tycoon who connected Florida from Jacksonville to Key West. The architecture is stunning, fitting for Presidents and Rockefellers (both of whom visited, alongside other dignitaries of the Gilded Age) with Tiffany glass windows and intricate details.
  • Colonial Quarter: Step back in time and explore this living history museum, featuring colonial-era buildings, interactive exhibits, and demonstrations. Situated along St. George Street, a visit allows you to journey through the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries to learn about blacksmithing, watch a live musket demo, and climb the 35-foot watchtower for panoramic views of St. Augustine’s bayfront and the historic Castillo de San Marcos. It also has amazing concerts and hosts local events under it’s gorgeous oak tree.
  • Lightner Museum: Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, a Gilded Age resort hotel commissioned by Henry Flagler, this museum features eclectic collections of art, antiques, and artifacts.
  • Explore Historic Lincolnville: There is more than just Spanish history in St. Augustine, and just a few blocks outside of the historic district, you’ll see why they say “the road to Black history runs though Lincolnville.” is rich with Black history. Settled by newly freed slaves after the Civil War, and named for President Lincoln, the Lincolnville Historic District neighborhood played a pivotal role in the nation’s Civil Rights movement. On June 9, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in St. Augustine during a protest for human rights alongside King was Rev. Andrew Young, who led a night march from Lincolnville to the Plaza de la Constitucion, where he was met with violent opposition. His courageous walk is memorialized in brass footsteps at the Plaza with the Andrew Young Crossing, where visitors can walk in his footsteps. The Plaza in the center of town is also home to the bronze Foot Soldiers Memorial, built in remembrance of those who protested peacefully during the turbulent 1960s.
  • Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center: Here visitors can learn about the more than 450 years of Black history stretching from the empires of West Africa, to early colonial Florida and up to the 20th century. Located in what was once the Excelsior School, which served as the first public black high school, this Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Center continues preserving and promoting African American history through art, educational programs, lectures, live performances, oral histories, and immersive exhibits. You can also experience the journey of black Americans through virtual tours that tell the story of some of the people and events that changed history in St. Augustine.
  • Fountain of Youth: Whether or not the Fountain of Youth is really located in St. Augustine is up for debate. But whether or not it’s waters will grant you eternal life, this beautiful site’s history starts in 2,400 B.C. with the native Floridians, the Timucua, beginning to occupy the region.

St. Augustine Activities and Attractions:

There is so much to do in St. Augustine, it might take you years and years of living in the outdoor-lover’s paradise before you get to it all. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • St. Augustine Eco Tours: Experience the natural beauty of the area with guided bird, dolphin and salt marsh kayak tours and boat excursions led by knowledgeable local guides.
  • Colonial Oak Music Park: A community gathering space featuring live music performances, food trucks, and cultural events in a picturesque outdoor setting.
  • St. Augustine Distillery: This craft distillery produces small-batch spirits using locally sourced ingredients. Take a tour of this craft distillery and sample locally-made spirits like rum, vodka, and gin.
  • Surf Station Lessons: Since 1984, Surf Station has been the go-to surf and skate shop for St. Augustine locals. The Surf Station is annually voted ‘Best Surf Shop’ year after year by The St. Augustine Record. The shop accommodates every surfer at every skill level with over 1,000 surfboards in stock. The staff offers surf camps as well as private and group surfing lessons to help you hang ten in your new town.
  • Augustine Beach: Relax on the sandy shores, swim in the Atlantic Ocean, or try water sports like surfing and paddleboarding. You can’t go wrong with this pristine beach lined by seaside cottages and restaurants. Every Wednesday, the St. Augustine Beach Pier hosts a Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Anastasia State Park: Enjoy hiking trails, kayaking, birdwatching, and pristine beaches in this natural oasis. Music from the nearby St. Augustine Ampitheater can sometimes be heard from the shore.
  • Matanzas Inlet: While “Matanzas” is the Spanish word for “slaughter” due to this area being the site of the Spanish victory over the French to secure the Florida territory for themselves, you couldn’t pick a more beautiful spot. Locals frequent this area for fishing, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the coastal scenery.
  • Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoological Park: Arriving at the Alligator Farm, you’d have no idea that it is yet another one of St. Augustine’s historical sites. Founded in 1893, over 125 years ago, it began as a small exhibition of Florida reptiles and soon became a quintessential Florida attraction. Today it functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows and exhibits, important research, and worldwide conservation efforts.

Dining and Nightlife in St. Augustine, FL

  • Columbia Restaurant: Indulge in Spanish and Cuban cuisine at this iconic restaurant located in the heart of historic St. Augustine.
  • The Ice Plant: Enjoy handcrafted cocktails and farm-to-table fare in a stylish setting at this trendy establishment. Here, attention is paid to the smallest of details with three different kinds of ice, including a nod to the building’s original use as an Ice Plant, with a 300lb block of ice and custom cubes.
  • Llama Restaurant: This quaint Peruvian restaurant may be small on the inside (we advise reaching out in advance for reservations) but it is big on flavor. Named one of OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in the U.S. for 2023, it’s no longer just a favorite spot of local’s. 
  • The Floridian: This restaurant serves Southern-inspired cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients, with a focus on sustainability and community. A favorite for locals and tourists alike – make sure to pick up one of their famous flying baby alligator tees.
  • The Blue Hen Café: A cozy breakfast and brunch spot known for its creative dishes, friendly atmosphere, and commitment to using fresh, local ingredients. The fried chicken breakfast sandwich is a must!
  • Sunday Gathering Table: With delicious fare and an enchanting courtyard in the Uptown neighborhood of St. Augustine, this is a charming local’s favorite breakfast spot. Don’t miss out on the roasted shiitake and oyster mushroom toast with herb pesto, goat cheese and cured lemon.
  • Alms + Fare: Gluten-free sweet treats that are organic, non-GMO, dairy-free and naturally sweet. Find simple treats here that are made with quality ingredients.
  • River & Fort: River & Fort Restaurant & Rooftop Lounge is located right in the heart of downtown St. Augustine at the corner of Avenida Menendez and Charlotte St, directly across from the Castillo de San Marcos overlooking the gorgeous bayfront (hence, the River & Fort moniker). Offering a southern continental inspired menu with local seafood, steaks, wine, and craft cocktails, River & Fort boasts one of the best rooftops in St. Augustine, where on a clear day you can see all the way to the Lighthouse on Anastasia Island.
  • A1A Ale Works: A St. Augustine staple off of the town square, A1A has a view of the Matanzas River and serves up delicious seafood, burgers, and craft beer brewed on-site in their building with New Orleans-inspired architecture.
  • In nearby Vilano Beach, there are two staple restaurants sitting almost side-by-side on the Tolomoto River: Cap’s on the Water and Aunt Kate’s – both have stunning views, fantastic seafood-first menus and the best sunset spot in Northeast Florida. Every local has their favorite of the two, so make these spots a first stop after your move.
  • Cookiebird Ice Cream Bar: If you’re interested in a whimsical, charming soft serve ice cream experience after your dinner, look no further than this new, locally owned parlor.

Local’s Favorite Nightlife in St. Augustine

There’s no shortage of nightlife in St. Augustine, and as a bustling tourism and college town, there are plenty of great spots to kick back and enjoy the town.

  • Prohibition Kitchen: This 1920s and Prohibition-era themed pub on St. George Street offers generous portions of locally-sourced bar food, craft cocktails, and live music every night. The building has been artfully renovated using reclaimed materials from the original colonial structure, like the 400-year-old heart of pine ceiling boards, which were used to create the bar and booth tables.
  • Café Eleven: Cafe Eleven is a fantastic restaurant in St Augustine Beach (vegetarian and vegan-friendly!) but it is also one of the best music venues in the area.
  • Boat Drinks: A bright and modern watering hole on St. George Street has frozen-drink machines whirring happily behind the bar and a drink menu that will satisfy any mixologist. Start with shareable snacks or sandwiches as you sit on a balcony overlooking the bustling main walking street.
  • Forgotten Tonic: A robust cocktail list and comfort food menu have won this Aviles Street spot a devoted following.
  • No Name Bar: A bar so nice they named it… not at all. This locals favorite dive bar’s reputation supersedes any need for a name. With a unique view overlooking A1A, this establishment offers good times, drinks, and music.
  • Dog Rose Brewing: Dog Rose Brewing Co. is in the historic neighborhood of Lincolnville, just blocks from the center of the historic district of St. Augustine. With handcrafted ales and lagers and a spacious tap room featuring shuffleboard and professional dart boards.
  • Forgotten Tonic: A hidden neighborhood gem nestled away in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district. Featuring modern twists on freshly prepared drinks that you can “take home to mom” this chic bar and bistro has something for everyone.
  • Tradewinds: Claiming to be “the oldest bar in the oldest city,” Tradewinds Tropical Lounge is a lively local lounge that always has a great mix of the best music northeast Florida has to offer — rock’n’roll, blues, and a little country.

St. Augustine Coffee Shops

  • Kookaburra Coffee: Australian-American coffee shop, The Kookaburra, started out with one shop downtown and grew to five St. Augustine locations and one in nearby Ponte Vedra. This shop proudly serves ethically sourced coffee, espresso, and Aussie pies for their local fans, “Kooks.”
  • Juniper Market: An Uptown St. Augustine staple, Juniper is casual café-dining with counter-service, offering fresh-baked goods, grab n’ go items such as soups, salads and sandwiches as well as coffee and tea.
  • Dos Coffee & Wine: Housed in an old auto parts/repair shop, (the old Reliable Auto Parts) Dos Coffee and Wine has become a favorite for locals and travelers alike. Located on the north end of the nation’s oldest city, Dos serves up hand crafted coffee alongside a rotating selection of wine and beer.
  • Relámpago Coffee Lab: Meaning “lightning” in Spanish, Relámpago sums up how this shop feels about coffee: that the flavors should come down from the clouds like lightning bolts on to your palate. New coffees are brought in seasonally here, with a focus on roast profiles and current-crop offerings. This is a coffee-lovers coffee shop!

Events and Festivals in St. Augustine:

The question in St. Augustine isn’t if there is anything going on, but what is – every weekend is seemingly chock full of festivals and events. There really is something for everyone on the St. Augustine social calendar.

  • Nights of Lights: Every November through January, the historic center of St. Augustine is lit up with millions of twinkling lights illuminating the city’s historic architecture. Enjoy special events, boat tours and more during the magical time of the year.
  • St. Augustine Food & Wine Festival: Sample gourmet cuisine, fine wines, and craft beers from local vendors during this annual event.
  • Sing Out Loud: Sing Out Loud is the annual, epic celebration of live entertainment in the Nation’s Oldest City. Featuring acts from different genres over multiple weekends in September, Sing Out Loud is the driving force behind St. Augustine’s Official Month of Music. Over 100 national, regional and local artists play a mix of free and ticketed shows at a dozen venues throughout the area, with the marquee event being the two-day concert at Francis Field.
  • Discover Fort Mose Jazz & Blues Series: To honor the history and celebrate the cultural significance of Fort Mose, the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States, the annual Fort Mose Jazz & Blues Series welcomes renowned jazz and blues performances onsite at Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine, Florida. Past acts have included Common, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
  • St. Augustine Film Festival: In January, a multi-day festival showcases independent and international films, documentaries, and shorts at various venues throughout the city. It attracts filmmakers, industry professionals, and film enthusiasts from around the world.
  • St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival: Each March, Celtic culture takes over the Spanish influence in St. Augustine, with live music, dance performances, Highland games, and traditional food and drink. The festival features renowned Celtic musicians and bands, as well as cultural demonstrations and workshops.
  • Rhythm & Ribs Festival: You’re not in the south unless there is a festival celebrating music and BBQ. Every April, this barbecue and music festival brings together top pitmasters from across the country to compete in a barbecue cook-off. Visitors can enjoy live music, craft vendors, kids’ activities, and, of course, delicious barbecue.
  • St. Augustine Spanish Wine FestivalCome September in St. Augustine, it’s time to indulge in Spanish cuisine, wine tastings, and cultural experiences at this annual festival celebrating the city’s Spanish heritage. Events include wine dinners, tastings, and a Grand Tasting event featuring wines from Spain and beyond.
  • St. Augustine Greek FestivalExperience the flavors and traditions of Greece at this festival featuring authentic Greek food, live music and dance performances, cultural exhibits, and a marketplace selling Greek products and crafts. This free event is typically held in October and sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of St. Augustine.

These festivals offer a fantastic opportunity to experience the vibrant culture, diverse cuisine, and lively entertainment scene of St. Augustine throughout the year. Be sure to check event schedules and plan your visit accordingly to make the most of these exciting celebrations!

Shopping in St. Augustine:

St. George Street is the main drag in St. Augustine for shopping and dining. Wander along this pedestrian-only thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, and historic buildings.

  • The Spice & Tea Exchange: Browse a wide selection of gourmet spices, teas, and seasonings sourced from around the world, as well as locally blended options.
  • Stubbees: Specialty honey company that offers raw honey, honeycomb, whipped honey, infused honey, handmade dinnerware, home decor, lifestyle.
  • Linen & Waves: Focused on coastal chic, this is the first stop for anyone who wants to dress like a local in St. Augustine.
  • Declaration & Co: A go-to local’s boutique for everything from gifts, clothing, bespoke souvenirs and more, situated on San Marco Ave in Uptown.
  • St. Augustine Market & Night Market: Every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. under the oaks of the St. Augustine Ampitheater, the market features stalls of local, fresh food and produce straight from the farm, as well as handmade arts and crafts, and live entertainment. Special events and features take place each week, check the individual event listings to see what’s coming up!

The Night Market is a local favorite, featuring handmade arts, crafts, and goods along with a variety of local food trucks, a full bar, and live music! The Night Market takes place on a select Tuesdays throughout the year from 5pm to 9pm.

Art and Culture in St. Augustine:

  • St. Augustine Amphitheater: Known locally as The Amp, this outdoor venue is located on Anastasia Island, across the bridge from downtown St. Augustine and just a half mile from the beach. Surrounded by the natural landscape of Anastasia State Park, The Amp provides a beautiful setting for an incredible concert experience. The venue hosts more than 40 performances each year, welcoming music legends and rising stars across all genres. The Amp is an intimate setting with just under 5,000 seats.
  • Crisp-Ellert Art Museum: Located on the campus of Flagler College, this contemporary art museum showcases the work of emerging and established artists, with a focus on regional talent.
  • The Lightner Museum: Explore a diverse selection of art prints, jewelry, books, and gifts inspired by the museum’s collections and the history of St. Augustine.
  • Butterfield Garage Art Gallery: This artist-owned gallery inside of an old auto garage is a work of art itself and has been a staple of St. Augustine on King Street for over 25 years. The gallery features rotating exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and mixed media works by local and regional artists.
  • Jenna Alexander Studio: A haven for those interested in art and local culture, Jenna Alexander Studio is not only a place to look at art created by Jenna herself, but to create your own art. You can buy an original painting featuring botanicals or St. Augustine seascapes or sign yourself or your kids up for an art class taught by Jenna.

Schools in St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine offers a range of educational options for families, and is served by the St. John’s County Public School System. St. John’s County is consistently ranked as the top first or second school district in the state, securing an A letter grade from the Florida Department of Education.

Here is an overview of the types of schools you can find in the area:

Public Schools:

St. Johns County School District is known for its high academic standards and offers a variety of programs and extracurricular activities.

Private Schools:

St. Augustine also has several private schools offering alternative educational philosophies and religious affiliations:

  • St. Joseph Academy: A Catholic high school offering a comprehensive college-preparatory curriculum.
  • St. Johns Academy: A private kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school focusing on academic excellence and character development.
  • Victory Preparatory School: A Christian-based school providing individualized instruction and a supportive learning environment for children from VPK through high school.

Charter Schools:

Charter schools provide tuition-free public education with specialized curricula or teaching methods, and there are a few options in St. Augustine.

Higher Education:

  • Flagler College: A private liberal arts college located in the heart of historic downtown St. Augustine, offering undergraduate programs in a variety of disciplines. Founded in 1968, the college is named after Henry Flagler, a key figure in the development of Florida’s east coast during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not only is Flagler in the center of St. Augustine, but the campus itself adds to the city’s historical beauty. Originally built in 1888 as the luxurious Ponce de Leon Hotel by Henry Flagler, the main building is now a National Historic Landmark.

    The college emphasizes a comprehensive liberal arts education, providing students with a broad-based foundation in critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills.

    With a relatively small student body, Flagler College offers a close-knit and supportive community. The college provides a range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations to enrich students’ academic experience and foster personal growth, as well as competing in NCAA Division II athletics, and as a member of the Peach Belt Conference, offers various sport programs for both men and women.
  • Johns River State College: A public community college with campuses in St. Augustine, Orange Park, and Palatka, offering associate degrees, vocational training, and adult education programs.

Churches in St. Augustine, FL

Medical Care in St. Augustine

Medical care in Northeast Florida, including the St. Augustine area, is generally well-regarded and offers a range of high-quality healthcare services. The region is home to several reputable hospitals, medical centers, and healthcare providers that are committed to delivering excellent patient care.

Flagler Hospital: Flagler Hospital is a full-service healthcare institution providing a range of medical services, including emergency care, surgical services, maternity care, and more.

Ascension St. Vincent’s Medical Center St. John’s: As part of the Ascension healthcare network, this medical center offers comprehensive medical care, including emergency services, cardiology, orthopedics, and cancer care.

Baptist Medical Center South: Located near St. Augustine in Jacksonville, Baptist Medical Center South is a larger facility located in Jacksonville, but it serves the St. Augustine area and offers a wide range of medical services, including emergency care, surgical services, and specialty care.

CareSpot Urgent Care of St. Augustine: This clinic provides urgent care services for minor injuries and illnesses, offering convenient walk-in appointments and extended hours.

Important St. Augustine Links

CALL THE EXPERTS FOR YOUR MOVE TO ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

Suddath offers comprehensive moving services, whether you’re making a local, international or long-distance residential move to St. Augustine. Our professional moving coordinators are ready to take care of everything from packing, loading, storage and transportation. Get a free, no-obligation moving quote today.