National Monuments: The Castillo de San Marcos & Fort Matanzas
Tour the Historic Coast’s naturally significant sites, like the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas, with this two-day National Parks Itinerary. We’ve included suggestions for historical landmarks, museums and attractions, as well as lodging and dining recommendations.
MORNING | Breakfast and Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and Fort Matanzas are the only two fortifications in the world built out of a soft limestone of broken shells called coquina. Castillo de San Marcos is also the oldest masonary fort in the United States, completed in 1695.
Known for the “Best Breakfast in Town.”
Take a self-guided tour through the National Park Monument. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest masonry fort in the United States made of coquina harvested from an Anastasia Island quarry and completed in 1695.
Historic Weapons Demonstrations
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, see park rangers and historic reenactors at the Castillo de San Marcos give historical weapons demonstrations, as well as presentations on the life and experiences of the Spanish soldiers stationed in St. Augustine in the 1740s.
FREE Admission During National Park Week!
Each April during National Park Week, enjoy free admission, special tours, and events at the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monument.
AFTERNOON | Lunch and Explore
Observe iconic Living History in the heart of the historic district on popular St. George Street, the legendary Fountain of Youth, and the birthplace of Catholicism in America. Reenactments and exhibits take visitors through four centuries of everyday life. Venues also host concerts regularly, including St. Augustine’s Sing Out Loud Festival and Gamble Rogers Music Festival.
Step back in time to a candlelit, 18th century-styled taberna. Enjoy savory tapas, flatbreads, sangria and cold beverages in an intimate atmosphere.
Stop by the Mission on your way to the Fountain of Youth and retrace the steps of America’s first founding fathers more than 400 years ago.
TRUE STORY: Here at the Mission lie five of the original “Sisters of St. Joseph.” The Sisters were sent by the Catholic Church in 1866 to teach freed slave children in St Augustine.
Learn more about the area’s African-American history.
Tour the park first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565. See living history interpreters present daily, as well as a replica of a historically correct anoti, a large Timucuan family house.
TRUE STORY: The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016!
EVENING | Dinner and Exploring
Since 1907, the Ice Plant building was Florida’s first power and ice plant. The original bridge crane used to move 300-lb ice blocks hangs over the bar where cubes are custom cut to your cocktail.
Set in an early 20th century industrial building, this eatery offers locally sourced dishes & seasonal cocktails. Shortly following the Gilded Age, the original building supplied the city with manufactured ice to fishing and shrimping camps as well as residential ice boxes before freezers and refrigerators.
Visit the museum and experience a free guided tour. Located within a beautifully restored ice plant from the turn-of-the-century, St. Augustine Distillery’s mission is simple: Educate and inspire guests about local, handcrafted, award-winning rum, whiskey bourbon, gin, and vodka.
MORNING | Breakfast and Fort Matanzas
Fort Matanzas National Monument sits on a barrier island where diverse Florida plants and wildlife are on display as visitors enter the fort for a glimpse into the daily lives of the soldiers stationed here in the 1700s. It is a part of the southern component of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Hike, bike, kayak, swim, and enjoy the preserved wetlands and hidden beaches of this 73,000-acre habitat, located both north and south of St. Augustine.
Learn more at www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/gtm/
Coffee, pancakes and more at this casual stop on your way to Fort Matanzas.
Explore Fort Matanzas National Monument via a free ferry ride. Rangers are available for questions. Special events, reenactments, and historic cooking demonstrations occur throughout the year. Pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful Florida scenery!
EVENING | Dinner and Aviles Street
Aviles Street is the oldest street in America, it is currently a buzzing district of art, entertainment and culture. “La Fiesta De Aviles” – including the “Running of the Bulls” and “Sangria Sunday” – takes place every year on this historic thoroughfare.
Mediterranean-style restaurant serving local specialties in a romantic inn housed in a Spanish Colonial revival building. Reservations recommended.
Art Galleries and Cafés
Explore Aviles Street, now one of the area’s most diverse arts districts, filled with galleries and restaurants. It was paved with bricks so that the shoes of ladies from New York would not be soiled walking through muddy streets.
Interactive Map – National Monuments
With dozens of monuments, parks, forts and museums, like the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas, within a short drive of St. Augustine, you’re in the perfect place to discover the melting pot of history and culture Florida’s Historic Coast has to offer.
Video – National Monuments in St. Augustine