I’ve had a couple of inquiries lately about what is open in St. Augustine. People want to know if town feels “normal”. Are businesses ready for guests? Are guests even welcome?
I always tried to give my perception of town after the hurricanes, so I thought I’d do that again with the pandemic. If you’re coming to St. Augustine, this will give you a little bit of the “feel” around town.
This definitely isn’t comprehensive, and it isn’t any kind of “official” statement either! But we’ve all been through a lot the last few months, and if I were traveling, I’d want to know details like this. If you’d like to know different details, please drop us a line. I’ll try to share anything I know, and track down answers if I don’t.
This list is accurate as of June 10, 2020.
What is Open in St. Augustine
In a few words: almost everything.
The Governor’s order on June 4 allowed bars to reopen at 50% capacity, which was the last holdout on tourist areas in St. Augustine. Restaurants, attractions, movie theaters, bowling alleys–all are open at 50% capacity with 6 feet of social distance required between patrons. Bar top service is not available, unless guests are 6′ apart.
Retail stores, gyms, museums and libraries are open at 100% capacity.
San Sebastian Winery is open, although they’re not doing tours (they are hosting individual tastings, so call and ask). St. Augustine Distillery is also open, selling their spirits, and also their hand sanitizer. As I said earlier, I have no authority to write an “official” statement, but I think it’s a good strategy to have alcohol both ON your hands and IN your hands.
I find pretty good information about restaurants on the Visit St. Augustine site. You can see their list of opened restaurants here.
If you’re really hungry for something, please call first. Even if a restaurant is open, they may have different hours, or they may not have a full menu. Some restaurants are offering curbside pickup as well as take out. It’s a great opportunity if you’d like to grab some food, and bring it back to our patio. You can eat on the patio, or on the upstairs deck. If you’re still a little wary of eating out in restaurants, it’s a nice way to enjoy your favorite restaurant (most are so close the food won’t even cool down by the time you get home). And remember to ask about drinks…a silver lining to this whole virus thing is take-out alcohol! People are selling cocktail kits, margaritas, and mojitos!
Here is the local scuttlebutt on restaurants: A1A (in the yellow building across from the Bridge of Lions), is not open, but I have heard the restaurant group that runs them is talking about opening again; Centro on Aviles Street closed several months ago (pre-pandemic), and they are not coming back; Cellar 6 on Aviles is under new management, and goes by the name Forgotten Tonic; the Swinery in Uptown is reopened after a bunch of renovations; Crave Food Truck has gone the brick and mortar route–they just opened on King Street (where the old Subway was). This is updated as of June 10–I’ll add anything additional as I learn it.
If you want to know about a specific eatery, let me know and I’ll walk by and see what things look like. I’m always looking for a place to walk around town!
Speaking of walking around, you’ll see plenty of people out and doing that, although it’s definitely not as busy as a normal June day. Most of the tourists are not wearing masks at this point–some of them have them, and put them on if they find themselves in a more crowded area. I’d say about 30-40% of visitors are wearing masks.
All of the restaurants that I’ve seen have been completely masked (as are we at the Bayfront Marin House). None of the guests are–although I’m not sure how you wear a mask while you’re eating! Restaurants in our county are able to operate at 50% seating inside, with social distancing in place for any outside seats. Harry’s just opened last week, and they are seating people at every other table in their courtyard, and only a few tables in the inside rooms. If you want a romantic getaway (like if you’ve been locked up with the kids for a few weeks!), all of the restaurants have just upped the cozy, intimate factor!
Some restaurants have reconfigured their space to have more outdoor seating (Michael’s and The Ice Plant), and some have used plexiglass between tables or booths (Blackfly).
The hop on/hop off trolleys are running again, with guests sitting in every other row. The Green Trolley is giving its riders free disposable masks. The carriages are running also–it’s nice to hear the clop clop going through town again! The drivers wipe everything down in between guests.
Most of the larger museums (the Pirate Museum, Lightner, Villa Zorayda) are open. Ximenez Fatio House just opened on June 1; they require masks at all times and groups of 10 or less (including docents). Attractions are open as well–including the Alligator Farm, the Lighthouse, the fort, and the beaches. Beaches seemed more crowded than usual in the beginning of May, but they seem to be thinning out. The hub and I walk on Vilano, and most everyone has been very courteous, changing their paths to keep six feet of distance. I have only seen one or two people wearing masks while on the beach.
Groceries and More
We have so many units with full kitchens now (the Marine Street Apartment, the Jose Simeon Suite, the Lagoon Cottage, the Oceanview Cottage, the Royal Palm, and the Atlantic Suite), you may be planning to cook while you’re visiting. We have not had issues with too many food or supply shortages. It’s true that meat prices have gone through the roof, but you can always find meat, and that’s a blessing. The only thing we’ve had problems finding is Clorox wipes (but we go through a TON of them, so we always are buying a lot!!), and some brands of lunch meats. One thing to consider is that some stores–including the Publix on Vilano Beach–limit the purchase of items to two or less for each shopper.
That’s what I have seen from my side of the mask! If you have any questions about anything I didn’t cover, please let me know! The bottom line is, you probably could really use a vacation, and we are looking forward to seeing you, whenever you feel comfortable traveling!