If you know St. Augustine, you know it’s a city with many past lives. Maybe that’s why I love it so much. The rich layers of cultures and generations, the stories and streets to uncover. Known as the oldest, continuously-inhabited city in the U.S., St. Augustine is a physical reminder that everything reinvents itself and can be rediscovered time and time again. If you think you’ve been there, done that, I invite you to look a little deeper.
No matter if you find yourself in town on a side trip from Orlando or take a weekend trip up from the Tampa Bay area, St. Augustine has so much more to offer than what’s in plain sight. Venture off the beaten path to become your own modern day explorer and check out these hidden gems.
Organized by neighborhood, this list shares some lesser known spots to choose your own afternoon adventure or make a day of it in St. Augustine.
Between Pine and Joiner Streets on San Marco Avenue, you’ll find a walkable stretch with these unique concepts, local gifts and food for every palate, all right here in St. Augustine.
Spinster Abbott’s — new in St. Augustine
Owners Liz and Sam had a vision for an old die-cast shop and launched Spinster Abbott’s, a one-of-a-kind concept in summer 2023. “Spinster” is an homage to Lucy Abbott, the city’s first female land developer that the surrounding Abbott Tract historic district was also named after. And, the tagline “Bodega. Taproom. Lodging.” gives you an idea of what you’ll find here.
The style? A perfect blend of vintage Florida feels, artsy details and a sprinkle of Golden Girls. From the music to the hand-selected items in the bodega and on tap: This. Place. Is a vibe. It has the feel of a neighborhood market, with items focused on local and sustainable goods, foods, and gifts, where you can pick everything up from toilet paper to jewelry, meat and produce, or boutiquey snacks, spices and nostalgic candy.
You can grab a freshly brewed coffee, cold beer or non-alcoholic beverage to crack open on site or take home. I picked up some Backyard Buffalo chocolate granola and mango shrikhand, along with some oat milk and a banana for breakfast the next day. Wish I had more time to try anything in the cooler by the front door by Songbird Pie Co. These two local artisans are just a few that you can’t get unless you order online or hit up a local farmer’s market.
Walk through the mirrored saloon-style doors to enter the taproom with regional brews, ciders, and Prosecco on tap. They sell some of the fun, curated snacks from the bodega at the bar if you’re looking for more than the yummy nuts dished out with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality. The back of the taproom has a retro Golden Girls-esque living room scene with plenty of board games and a kids spot with games and toys — everybody wins. Pop out of the taproom and in front of you is a small thrift store, Snake Bird Vintage Goods — a tiny but special spot for clothing, jewelry, shoes and other unique pieces to add to your collection with affordable price points.
This is one of those places you feel like you could live in, and the good news is, you kind of can. The lodging part of the location is a charming second-story AirBnB full apartment (with off street parking, a rarity in St. Augustine!) that mirrors the vibe just a few steps away from the bodega and taproom. Loaded with amenities and a stocked kitchen, the spot makes it easy to grab items from the bodega and cook up a little something. But, if you aren’t feeling it, Hot Box, a Hawaii food concept from Sunday operates out of an old airstream trailer in the parking lot. Talk about convenience.
Jenna Alexander Studio
After brunch at Sunday (highly recommend the hibiscus mimosas, and the roasted mushroom toast with herb pesto, goat cheese and cured lemon), walk out the back door to the carriage house and you’ll find, Jenna Alexander Studio, a working art studio. Check out fun and classic watercolor prints that line the floor to ceiling from this celebrated local artist. A quick walk south on San Marco Avenue takes you past more curated shops including Declaration & Co.
Ink & Barley Tattoos and Brews
A unique mark on a craft beer bar with a lounge and courtyard in back is Ink & Barley Tattoos and Brews. Artists are mostly by appointment only, so if you’re looking to get a tattoo while in St. Augustine you should plan ahead. But, you can walk in anytime and grab a beer from their robust selections, or try a cider, seltzer, kombucha, sparkling water, or non-alcoholic beer if you’re looking for something cold to drink.
West King St.
Just across Ponce De Leon Boulevard, opposite the historic district, you’ll find a stretch with up-and-coming destinations. Don’t miss West King Wednesday, the third Wednesday every month starting at 5 p.m. where businesses along the strip stay open later to host local artisans.
Muggsy’s Neighborhood Bar
Named after Muggsy Bogues, the 5’3” NBA legend, Muggsy’s Neighborhood Bar is a retro spot that serves up all the 80s nostalgia you can stand alongside “good beer and better wine.” When was the last time you saw Gatorade in a can? It’s here — in addition to all the sports on TV, a pool table, live music and nearby food truck options (or opt to have food delivered to you in the bar). Leashed pets allowed.
Buena Onda Cafe
Open for breakfast and lunch, made-from-scratch vegetarian and vegan is the name of the game at Buena Onda Cafe, which also serves up yummy espresso and specialty drinks, as well as beer and wine. Adorable gifts on the shelves toward the back entrance include the handmade mugs you were served your coffee in.
Tucked between Villa Zorayda and Chase Bank, Tonevendor Records has one of the largest selections of vinyl records in Northeast Florida, right here in St. Augustine. More than 20,000, in fact! The shop is open every day for you to peruse a variety of music genres spanning generations.
A quick five-minute walk away is Second Read Books, a quaint used bookstore to pick up a read for your beach day. If you’re ready to take a seat and grab a bite, you’ll find The Floridian right around the corner with seating inside or outside on a front or back patio of this kitschy old Florida restaurant. Don’t miss the pickled pepper shrimp and “Company’s Coming!”, a generous serving of their house-pickled vegetables and fried green tomatoes served with pimento cheese, buttermilk herb and a toasted baguette.
You don’t need reservations to walk through and around Cafe Alcazar, but it’s a good idea if you want to eat inside this cavernous Lightner Museum space that was originally the largest indoor swimming pool. To continue your sightseeing, walk down Palm Row — a row of six homes built in 1910 — to Aviles Street, America’s oldest street (so narrow it’s only for pedestrians) with many early to mid-18th century buildings to Forgotten Tonic — sit at the brick-backed bar and order the warm bread (trust us) and a signature cocktail.
Tolomato Cemetery — historic St. Augustine
Behind Potter’s Wax Museum on Cordova Street, you’ll find the 18th century Tolomato Cemetery with more than 1,000 St. Augustinians buried on less than one acre. Only open the third Saturday of each month, it’s worth a stop to get a free, guided tour of the interesting people buried here, many important to Florida and U.S. history. You can also chat with helpful historians to understand cultural genealogy of the area and peruse their giant books of lineage.
Just on the outskirts of the cemetery near 6 Cordova St., you can see one of the “love trees” — two separate species of trees growing through each other. A four-minute walk away, leads you to Boat Drinks for a light-hearted and fun atmosphere with a raw bar of rotating fresh oyster varieties, and delicious burgers and cocktails.
Crossing over to Anastasia Island from St. Augustine, you’ll find beaches including St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach along with tropical vibes and laid-back spots to grab a quick bite.
Nalu’s Tropical Take Out
Close to Anastasia State Park, where campsites are just a quick stroll from the unspoiled beach and dunes, you’ll find Nalu’s Tropical Take Out, a local favorite featuring top grade and wild caught Mahi Mahi, Ono (wahoo) and Ahi (yellowfin tuna) in poke bowls and tacos. Everything from the sauces and salsas to pestos and fish jerky is homemade, and the fish and produce comes from local farmers markets.
Set up your spot and play in the waves on Crescent Beach, a favorite local beach near St. Augustine — for $10, you can park right on the sand and stay all day (bring cash). If you want to have a beach picnic, stop by Stir It Up first for a PFunk smoothie (bananas, peanut butter, honey and milk) or reggae-themed sandwich like the Pita Tosh at this relaxed beachside locale with outdoor seating.
Until next time, St. Augustine.