In town for a day, having a staycation, or simply want to walk around downtown on your first day here? Created for those who like to walk, here's a one-day itinerary featuring the Historic Downtown and Lincolnville regions.
It's fun to simply stroll the side streets of the Historic Downtown and Lincolnville areas. You'll find beautifully renovated old homes, small parks, and a surprising number of historic markers. The best places to walk are just west of downtown in Flagler's Historic Land Neighborhood (found between King and Orange Streets,) and through Lincolnville. A (roughly) three-mile loop includes a walk from the Plaza through Lincolnville, out the far end of Riberia, and around Robert B. Hayling Park.
No matter your route through Lincolnville and the Historic Downtown, end up at the Castillo after 9:00 a.m. and tour this historic fort. This national park is the oldest masonry structure in the continental U.S. Construction began in 1672 and the fort has flown Spanish, British, and American flags. During the warmer months, we like to tour the Castillo before the sun gets too high. If your one day in town includes a Saturday or Sunday, take the stairs to the gundeck before 10:30 a.m. to witness the cannon firing.
If you'd rather simply saunter past historical buildings, dipping in and out of them to shop and eat, then take some time to wander along St. George Street and the blocks on either side. Part of the original walled city, this area is full of old buildings with historic markers. But most of these buildings sell clothing, gifts, and jewelry — or offer a comfortable restaurant or pub where you can sit, eat, and lift a glass (or two).
History, food, and shopping — what could be better?
On most days, live music begins at noon in the Mill Top Tavern, followed at 1:00 p.m. or so at the Tradewinds Lounge, and continues until 10:00 p.m. or later at a score of other establishments, including the Colonial Oak Music Park. Local musicians perform jazz, folk, rock, Americana, and their original music every day. Our LIVE Music calendar and app are the best ways to find out who is playing right now.
St. Augustine EcoTours, the Black Raven Pirate Ship, the Schooner Freedom, and the Victory III all offer tours from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, next to the Bridge of Lions. Check their schedules to see what cruise fits your day. We like any cruise near sunset.
Time for a libation? No problem. There's a pub or bar (or three) on every block. While some serve only beer and wine, most establishments have a full bar and some of those serve craft cocktails.
On one end of downtown, the Ice Plant, at 110 Riberia Street, serves craft cocktails with fresh juices, bitters, and specially made syrups. On the other end of downtown, near the Visitors Center, the Castillo Craft Bar and Kitchen in the offers wine, beer, and their signature cocktails. In the middle along the bayfront, you'll find the Tini Martini Bar, home of large martinis, served with a view of the bay. The drinks are cold, delicious, and potent. Fortunately, it's a short walk from the Tini Martini to a score of restaurants and sandwich shops.
From tacos and burritos to white tablecloth service and French cuisine, locals agree that the food in Historic Downtown and Lincolnville can satisfy any palate. There are other wonderful places to eat all over St. Johns County, but if you're staying downtown and playing in downtown, make sure to try any of the nearby restaurants open for lunch, brunch, and dinner. One may offer only counter service, while another around the corner has a full complement of waitstaff, including a sommelier. A few along St. George Street are part of a national chain, other eating establishments are offshoots of older Florida restaurants, and many others are stand-alone eateries locally owned and operated.
After dinner, many of the locals will check the Live Music Calendar again, or simply wander around listening to music and window shopping until it's time for a little something sweet. Fortunately, if you know where to look you can find sweets until late in the evening. At Bar Harbor Cheesecake Company, 6 Cordova Street, you can sit in their cozy interior and enjoy wine, French chocolates, and a wide variety of individual cheesecakes until 11:11 p.m. Cousteau's Waffle and Milkshake Bar also stays open late, until 11:00 p.m., and their specialty is Belgian Sugar Waffles served hot off the waffle press, or topped with ice cream, fruit, chocolate, and pretty much anything you can imagine. Mayday Ice Cream, on the corner of St. George Street and Hypolita, serves 16 kinds of hand-crafted ice cream with house-made sprinkles until 10:00 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.Don't worry about the indulgence. If you completed most of this day as outlined here, you surely completed more than 10,000 steps. Go for it.