If you’re planning a visit to St. Augustine this holiday season, do yourself a favor and start laying out the details of your trip now. It’s an amazing time of year–with beautiful lights everywhere as part of Nights of Lights, trolleys full of people singing Christmas carols, and unique shops all stocked with the coolest gifts that you’ll buy anywhere.
But, without the proper planning, you may miss out on the best parts of the city. Here is our St. Augustine Holiday Survival Guide–to help you have the very best visit to St. Augustine this holiday season.
Plan to plan.
The holidays are very busy in St. Augustine–in fact, the busiest week of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Rooms book really early for those dates, so if there is a room you love that you want, we recommend booking weeks (or even months) in advance. We keep a waiting list–if something opens up, we start calling the people on our list!
Plan to eat.
If you’re coming on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve, you should make your dinner reservations NOW. On Thanksgiving, most restaurants are open–some offer special Thanksgiving entrees, while others offer their regular menu. On Christmas, a lot less restaurants are open, and they fill up fast. See the restaurants open on Christmas day here, and the ones open on Thanksgiving here.
We offer our usual happy hour appetizers on all of the holidays–but they are just light bites, not a full meal. And we *will* start giving you a side eye after your fifth or sixth plateful! 🙂
Be a VIP.
The holidays can be crowded in St. Augustine. It’s a fun, bustling crowd of happy holiday revelers (we mentioned that all of the riders on the trolleys sing Christmas carols as they drive through town, right?) But that might not be as fun if you’re stuck in a line, or if you can’t do something you’d like to do.
One of the best ways to see the town is on the trolleys–and they are as popular as you’d expect them to be. Here’s how to avoid that: just stay at our inn two weeknights (Sunday through Thursday) during Nights of Lights and you’ll get an EXCLUSIVE pass to ride a private trolley. Our trolley runs on Mondays and Wednesdays (except on December 26), and leaves from the corner of Cathedral and St. George at 7:30. We recommend getting there by 7:10 to reserve your seat.
I’ve taken our trolley, and TONS of people walk up to the driver and ask if they can board (because there is no line, like at the other trolley stops). But no…it’s just for bed and breakfast guests!
Our guests also receive complimentary chocolates from Claude’s, as well as a coupon for free hot chocolate.
You must request the Nights of Lights special when you book, and you must book directly and pay full price.
If you aren’t coming on Monday or Wednesday, and dread the lines for the trolley, check out the Fast Track Passes available online here: www.trolleytours.com/st-augustine/nights-of-lights. You’ll enjoy a separate line, and a reserved check-in time. It’s definitely the way to see the lights any night other than Mondays and Wednesdays.
Plan to party.
There are so many things to do in St. Augustine for the holidays--from concerts to ballet to tours to beloved annual events. Read the list of our favorite St. Augustine holiday events, and plan your visit to coincide with events that pique your interest. If your event requires tickets, BUY THEM IN ADVANCE!! Many of the holiday special events sell out–and they can sell out early. So get your tickets as soon as you know you’re coming.
We’re getting all geared up for one of the best Holiday Seasons in St. Augustine EVER. Follow the tips above and enjoy a stress-filled stay during the holiday. We’ll see you under the lights!