St. Augustine is less than a two hour drive from Orlando; it’s a great choice for a side trip as you’re visiting your favorite Magic Kingdom.
Worried you can’t talk to the kids/your wife/the grandparents into it? Here are some favorite Disney atractions, and their St. Augustine counterparts.
Love the safari ride in the Animal Kingdom? Then make your first stop St. Augustine’s wildlife reserve, an animal sanctuary for big cats, snakes, and other exotics. www.staugustinewildreserve.com.
Will you wait in line for hours for Peter Pan’s Flight? Try ziplining over St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm. Don’t fall…or you’ll end up like Captain Hook!! www.alligatorfarm.com
Does the Haunted Mansion make you scream? You’ll love Ripley’s Believe or Not! Museum in St. Augustine. Located in a historic castle-shaped mansion, which is said to be haunted (don’t visit the third floor alone!) Plus, as the oldest city in the country, you’ll find a haunted mansion almost on every street! Learn all about them on GhoStAugustine (they let you rent ghost finding equipment if you’d rather try on your own!) www.ripleys.com/staugustine and www.ghostaugustine.
Please don’t laugh, but my husband’s favorite ride is the People Mover. We have our own version in St. Augustine in the Gold Tour bus, which is an eco friendly electric bus, that’s small enough to maneuver all of our narrow streets. It’s an intimate ride with great storytellers. People who want to go old school will enjoy a monorail-like experience with the Green Trolley…it’s a great way to give your feet a break going from attraction to attraction. www.stuaugstinegoldtours.com and www.trolleytours.com/staugustine.
Have you always wanted to be a princess? Stay at our bed and breakfast, in the newly renovated Princess Margaret suite. With a large Jacuzzi tub, large shower with body jets, and sweeping views of the Matanzas Bay, we promise to treat you like royalty (and we promise there are no peas under any of the mattresses in our 15 room inn). www.bayfrontmarinhouse.com.
You can throw a heck of a Mad Hatter tea party at the Spice and Tea Exchange (two locations downtown). The tea is good, but I prefer my cup filled with their spicy bloody mary mix. www.spiceandtea.com.
Pirates of the Caribbean??? Are you kidding? We’ve got the Pirate Museum, filled with real pirate treasures, as well as memorabilia from the Johnny Depp movie. And people who want to sail the dangerous seas can do so on our rowdy pirate ship…there are daytime trips that are kid-friendly and nighttime trips filled with rum punch. www.thepiratemuseum.com and www.blackravenadventures.com.
If rides aren’t your thing, but you love the shows, St. Augustine is perfect for you. The town hosted the huge Mumford & Sons in 2013, but every weekend is big with acts like the Avett Brothers, Alabama Shakes, The Moody Blues, John Fogerty… www.staugamp.sjcvenues.com .
Finally, if your favorite part of Disney is eating international, we’ve got you covered. Enjoy Mayan dishes at Casa Maya, Spanish meals at The Columbia and Caballa del Taberna, Irish food at Meehan’s, English fare at Prince of Wales, French delicacies at Bistro de Leon, Polish food at Gaufre’s and Goods, Italian at Nonna’s, and lots lots more–we guarantee you won’t be hungry.
And we didn’t even mention our museums and guided tours (the Lightner, and Flagler College), our golf (at World Golf Village), our lighthouse, our fort, our festivals…on second thought, you can’t do all of this in a day trip. You’d better look into a longer vacation!!