Student Budget Trip: St. Augustine

Lying languidly in the warm sun of northeast Florida, St. Augustine offers history, relaxation, excitement, and sublime ocean vistas. Truly, as the Nation's Oldest City, St. Augustine has accumulated some interesting history, both good and bad, such as that of pirates, Spanish wars and battlements, and even the Fountain of Youth. The location is perfect for groups of all ages, but particularly student groups as you'll discover not only the beautiful views and beaches but educational information underlying everything. There are plenty of ways to see St. Augustine, and we're going to do it on a student's budget!

Lodging

The lodging in St. Augustine is not as uniform as other cities. There is not a particular neighborhood within the city serving up wonderfully low prices all the time. There are, however, a few sprinkled around the best spots (such as on the river) that offer prices low enough for even the most constrained student budget. Be careful, though, with hotels that say "historic" as some will put the word in to rake in more money. Hotels along the highway and the airport are generally less expensive, as are hotels further out of town. The waterfront, downtown, and the historic district are going to be the most expensive. Just check around, be aware that you might not be able to afford a four or even three star hotel, and do your homework - or contact your handy travel agent to take care of it!

Transportation

This one's easy. St. Augustine and St. Johns County is served by the Sunshine Bus Company so there's no need to rent a car. The Sunshine Bus Company can get you anywhere you need to go for an insanely low day pass price (which is cut in half for students).

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Food

As the Nation's Oldest City, St. Augustine has certainly assumed some wild and varied cuisines. All of the following restaurants and eateries are extremely affordable ($) and are highly rated for quality of food and service.

  • The Kookaburra - Australian bakery serving a variety of coffees and "tucker" in the form of baked goods and Aussie Pies (aka savory pastries).
  • Nalu's - A popular Hawaiian food stand with plenty of seafood in a healthier Mexican-style Kauai tradition.
  • Ann O'Malley's - Delicious Irish pub and deli with pub food taken to a new, yummy level.
  • Carmelo's - Classic Italian pizza.
  • Cafe del Hidalgo - French-Italian eatery with a wide selection of gelato, paninis, and pastries.
  • Five Flags Cafe - Located at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, it's the perfect spot for tourists to grab scrumptious sandwiches and seafood.
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Historic Aviles Street

Attractions 

St. Augustine has quite a few attractions which draw widespread attention year round. Because of this, most of them charge admission, though not at an extravagant price. Thus, the attractions listed below with be labeled with a $ for affordable admissions, $$ for moderate, and $$$ for expensive.

  • Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park $$ (discounts for school groups) - Once thought to be the location of the Fountain of Youth, this park is still an archaeological wonderland of history and more.
  • Fort Menendez $ - First a Native American settlement and then a Spanish fort, today it's an educational park with plenty of sites to see and activities to enjoy.
  • Fort Matanzas National Landmark (free) - A centuries old fort on the waterfront with plenty of history and fascinating facts to keep your group busy.
  • St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum $ - Learn about and explore the history of Florida's coastal pirates who docked in the city and plundered the high seas.
  • Lightner Museum $ - A Gilded Age museum of antiquities in the historic Alcazar Hotel.
  • Father Miguel O’Reilly Museum (free) - Explore the history of the house, the neighborhood, the city, and the Catholic faith in St. Augustine.
  • Villa Zorayda $-$$ - A historic house inspired by a 12th-century Spanish Moorish palace in Granada. You can stay at the Villa, visit the art collections, or take a guided tour of the mansion.
  • Spanish Military Hospital Museum $ - Take a guided tour into the history of Spanish colonial medicine. Guides will even perform medical demonstrations!
  • St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum $-$$ - A historic lighthouse ca. 1871 which still serves the community as an educational museum.
  • First Colony Museum $ - An interesting exhibit at the Government House Museum teaching about the Spanish origins of the city.
  • Anastasia State Park $ - On lovely Anastasia Island, this state park is scenic and relaxing.
  • St. Augustine Beaches (free) - All beaches in the city and St. Johns County are free, though some require admission to drive into the park/beach plus parking.
  • Old City shopping - With everything from antiques to specialty stores, delicious restaurants, museums and more, Old City is as scenic and travel-worthy as it gets.