If you like… history
A "one-size-fits-all" attraction with good views, lots of history, interests for kids, has free and paid aspects, ghost tours, self-guided tours and so on.
CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS
When did you last spend day in and around the 17th Century? And everyone had a great time? A huge bay-front fort provides all the good stuff - from historical demonstrations and actors in period costume, to steep grassy hills for kids to roll down. Things go boom (cannon demos) and possibly bump in the night - on a very popular ghost tour.
THE XIMENEZ-FATIO HOUSE
This small house from 1798 is neither well-known nor well advertised, so you're assured of a quieter experience. This historic home tour lasts forty-five minutes and focuses on women's history - easy to fit into your schedule whether you're a history buff or have kids with modern attention spans.
PEÑA PECK HOUSE
In the loving care of a women's non-profit organization, expect a very personal tour that lasts "as long as you've got". The house dates to the 1750s and has lots of original furniture on display. Though on St. George street, this is a much less crowded experience than other central historic home tours.
DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOUSES
If you're short of time in St. Augustine, sail past this one. However, if you're keen to spend a meandering afternoon and/or have keen interest for history, you'll well and truly love the Dow Museum. Your ticket provides entrance to houses set in all eras from the 1800s towards the present. Call it a low- tech form of time travel; they're preserved in one city block. More of a grown-ups' museum, as small children might soon grow bored.
ST. AUGUSTINE PIRATE AND TREASURE MUSEUM
Everyone's one's got room in a vacation for a little bit of pirate. Luckily, this is no Treasure Island kitsch but the real deal - starting with the world's largest collection of genuine pirate artifacts. Huge production values went into their video exhibits, designed by Disney Imagineers. Allow at least ninety minutes, though you could easily spend three hours here - it's jam-packed. This museum will equally appeal to adults and kids - the latter get a treasure hunt to solve.
THE OLD JAIL
A costumed period actor performs the Old Jail's tour - it's perhaps best for kids or those happy enough to play along. En route, you'll learn about things used while the jail was in service (1892-1953). This includes all manner of weapons, plus a sign of mankind's certain progress - first gallows then the electric chair. A pricier tour that will cost you even more sleep is the Night at the Old Jail. It runs from approx. 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. and claims to invite the paranormal.
SPANISH MILITARY AND HOSPITAL MUSEUM
History buffs, come on in - the rest of you, keep walking. Allow forty-five minutes for a tour covering colonial surgery techniques and old-time remedies. Kids with the history bug will find it interesting, though it's not set up to be a children's museum (and the ward rooms are macabre).
OLDEST WOODEN SCHOOL HOUSE
Of possible interest if your kids need a reminder how good they've got it. It's on St. George Street so you will be passing by. A quick visit, unless you have a teacher in the family, with a peaceful garden courtyard outside.
(Pronounced Moh-Say). A side-note to history, a small museum mar ks t he spo t where America's first freed slaves began their new lives. An audio tour accompanies you around an open field site, once the location of this community. On a nice day it's an especially enjoyable stroll along the boardwalk.