Are you noticing things around St. Augustine seem to be slowly getting back to normal? While the pandemic and precautions are still part of our everyday lives, an overwhelming majority of St. Johns County students are back in school and for most of us that looks like a slight return to normalcy, bus routes in the morning and afternoon, and fewer crowds in our favorite spots. Let’s get out in our great city and safely enjoy the best that St. Augustine has to offer. Grab your bags Moms, Dads, Grandparents, and empty nesters! It’s time to act like a tourist and hit Davidson Realty’s Top 3 Places to Visit in St. Augustine! While it was very difficult for us to narrow it down to just three, our Davidson Realty team focused on a few that aren’t often found on everyone’s list like Leisure Group Travel Magazine and U.S. News & Travel.

St. Augustine Distillery 

As Americans seemed to experience the great hunt for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, one local St. Augustine company stepped up in a big way to help with the shortage of hand sanitizer across the First Coast. The St. Augustine Distillery is located in the historic district of St. Augustine in an old ice plant. Known for their vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey, you can find their labels on the shelves of local liquor stores. But you can also take a free tour of the distillery while also enjoying a sampling of their spirits. The St. Augustine Distillery is operating under CDC guidelines and accommodating tours every 30 minutes with no reservations but on a first-come-first-serve basis. Open Monday through Friday from 10 am until 6 pm, St. Augustine Distillery is a place we highly recommend touring and enjoying a cocktail.

Trolley Tours

With a couple to choose from (and we don’t want to single either one out) we highly encourage you to hop aboard one of the trolley tours in this historic St. Augustine area. Even in the hottest of temperatures, the movement along the bank and through the streets of downtown provides a breeze and a little bit of relaxation as you get a St. Augustine History 101 tour and learn about Ponce de Leon and the early settlers. The Trolley Tours are also a great way to navigate some ideal and popular dining spots. Hop on and hop off as you view the beautiful buildings, experience the historic charm, and enjoy the ride. 

Vilano Beach

With so many beautiful choices of sandy beaches in St. Johns County, our Davidson Realty team selected Vilano Beach as one of our favorite places to visit. It’s important to know the history of Vilano Beach to fully appreciate why it’s one of our favorites. The prestige of this beautiful stretch of shoreline dates back to the late 1800s when Henry Flagler would host his millionaire friends at Vilano Beach. A quaint little beach village, Vilano offers some of the area’s most charming restaurants, shopping, and plenty of rentals to enjoy a “staycation” in your own backyard. Vilano Beach offers a casual, laid back atmosphere, beautiful natural surroundings, and some of the best sunset views. Pack up the car because Vilano Beach also allows four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach making it so convenient to spend a day on the sand.

With so many options to choose from that include the Castillo de San Marcos, the Lightner Museum, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and so much more, sometimes it’s fun to tour the road less traveled. We encourage you to tour our Top 3 Places to Visit in St. Augustine, maybe for the first time but likely for a repeat visit, and let us know what you think!

 
 
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How is the Datil pepper like St. Augustine? We are both fairly small and delectably sweet with lots of spicy flavor, and we share a rich First Coast history! 

To celebrate this very special little pepper, the UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County Agricultural Center will host the 12th Annual Datil Pepper Festival this weekend, October 5-6. The event is free for all and parking is free as well.

The festival’s main attraction is the Datil Pepper Cook-Off between local restaurants. Pay just $1 and you can sample each restaurant’s Datil pepper dishes, and then vote for your favorite dish from each category. Awards will be given to restaurants for “People’s Choice” as well as overall winner based on professional judges.

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St. Augustine’s newest residents fit perfectly into our laid back, coastal lifestyle. In fact, they sleep up to 20 hours a day and spend most of their time lounging in trees at their new home in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

Meet Teddy and Grizzly, two mature sloths who moved to the Alligator Farm this summer and made their debut to visitors last week.

The male and female Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloths were brought to St. Augustine from Busch Gardens in Tampa and spent much of the summer in quarantine to ensure their safe acclimation to their new home. Their Alligator Farm rainforest habitat, which was built just for Teddy and Grizzly, mimics their native environment in Central and South America.

But don’t expect a spectacle on par with the park’s alligator feedings and wildlife shows. Sloths, named for their slow movements and low metabolism, are nocturnal and will likely be sleeping during your visit! Nevertheless, they are easily visible in their new habitat.

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Come enjoy some ragtime and boogie-woogie music with Bob Milne on Sunday, January 27, at 3 p.m. at the historic Grace United Methodist Church. Bob is known for his electric performances as well as charismatic storytelling.

Never heard of Bob? These interesting facts explain why his concert is a must-see!

Bob is a scientific mystery.Bob is a completely self-taught pianist with the unusual ability to mentally “play” up to four symphonies in his head simultaneously. He has even been the subject of study by Penn State University neuroscientists for the last eight years as they try to figure out how he does this!

In fact, his fans often refer to Bob as a “one-man orchestra” and celebrate his ability to make his piano sound like several instruments at once!

Bob’s music genre has a fascinating history.First played in 1895, ragtime originates from jigs and march music played by African American bands. Throughout the 20thcentury, ragtime spread throughout the U.S. and became an American staple. The term is said to originate from the word “ragged,” in reference to ragtime’s syncopated melody (with unexpected and often off-beat rhythms).

Bob has been a “musical ambassador” for the U.S. State Department.Considered by many to be the best ragtime piano player in the world, Bob brings a contagious energy to his playing. The Library of Congress has even deemed Bob as a “national treasure” and he has served as a “musical ambassador” for the U.S. State Department in Japan and Switzerland.

You can learn from Bob himself.In addition to touring, Bob teaches music history at various universities including Florida Atlantic University. For more information about his classes, click here.
Don’t miss this exciting performance! The concert is free (although the church accepts donations) and will take place in its beautiful large sanctuary (first come, first seated).

Grace Methodist Church is located at 8 Carrera Street in historic downtown St. Augustine. If you have any questions, contact the church at 904-829-8272.

 
 
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We never really grow out of our fascination with pirates, and St. Augustine is the best place in the country to imagine the time when plundering buccaneers roamed the high seas. There’s no better time to live the pirate’s life than January 25-27 at the 3rd Annual Old City Pirate Fest!

 

The weekend celebration is full of pirate-themed fun for the entire family in the Old City’s Colonial Quarter. Enjoy lots of food and drink options, live entertainment on two stages, games and prizes for the kids, vendors row with tons of pirate merchandise, and black powder and sword demonstrations. Entertainment includes live music, puppet shows and magic shows each day.

 

Special performers include Dirty James and the Rusty Anchors, Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, Keith Hill, the Forged in Fire Champions and Knife or Death Grand Champion.

 

Be sure to look for The Ancient City Sirens, who will host a Gypsy Encampment throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Getting There:The Colonial Quarter is located at 33 St. George Street. Ticket booths will be located at the main entrance to the Pirate Museum on Avenida Menéndez and the Bull & Crown Publick House at 53 St. George Street.

 

Getting In: A Fest Pass, good for both Saturday and Sunday, is $7 for adults (15-65), $5 for seniors (65+) and $5 for kids (14 & under). Children 3 and under are free. Tickets for the Friday night concert featuring Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers are an additional $10.

 

Here are the event hours for each day:

Friday, January 25: 7 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.

Saturday, January 26: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 27: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mark your calendar for next weekend to open your imagination and live the pirate’s life! As always, the Old City Pirate Fest is hosted by the St. Augustine Swashbucklers. For more information, visit here.

 
 
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St. Augustine’s signature nautical event, Regatta of Lights, will set sail this Saturday, December 8. The parade will kick off at 6 p.m. and be viewable from anywhere along Matanzas Bay between the Bridge of Lions and the Castillo de San Marcos (“the fort”).

 

Find a cozy spot along the bayfront (or grab a seat at a waterfront eatery like Harry’s Seafood or A1A Ale Works) and take in the show of brilliantly festooned boats of every shape and size. Personal fishing boats, yachts, commercial shrimping boats, sailboats—spectators will be treated to a bevy of decorated vessels. Participating boats will make two laps around the bay so don’t worry if you miss the first pass!

 

This is the 38thyear of the annual parade. According to event host St. Augustine Yacht Club, the Regatta of Lights “reflects the maritime roots and rich nautical heritage of St. Augustine.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The evening caps off with awards for best theme, most colorful, best in class and best overall (award winners will be posted on St. Augustine Yacht Club’s Facebook page).

 

Regatta of Lights accompanies St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights, the award-winning holiday lights display currently illuminating historic downtown. Nights of Lights runs until February 3, 2019.

 

For more information on the Regatta of Lights, call (904) 824-9725 or visit here.

 
 
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Historic St. Augustine’s 25th Annual Nights of Lights kicks off on Saturday, November 17, when the city turns on its 3 million twinkling lights to spread holiday cheer throughout the Oldest City!

Don’t miss Flagler College and the Lightner Museum, which are known for their especially spectacular displays. Lights continue throughout the Plaza de la Constitución, which also features a large Christmas tree.

Saturday’s festivities start with live music at 4 p.m. outside the Lightner Museum, followed by a special performance by the All Star Orchestra in the Plaza de la Constitución at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the big countdown begins to light the tree and all 3 million lights around town. Live music continues until 8 p.m.

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Looking for a fun and meaningful family event this weekend? The 23rd Annual Ancient City Kids Day is coming to Francis Field this Saturday, October 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The popular annual event is free to all and includes games, arts & crafts, giveaways and contests, bounce houses and live entertainment, as well as kid-friendly food and drinks available for purchase.

The event is hosted by EPIC Behavioral Healthcare and includes involvement by more than 40 youth service organizations. While the kids engage in various games and activities, parents can learn about community resources available for families. One Blood will also be holding a blood drive during the event.

T-shirts and goody bags will be handed out to all children who attend (while supplies last).

Live Entertainment Schedule:

11 a.m. Good Puppy (local band made up of kids)

12 p.m. Showtime USA (dance troupe)

1 p.m. Drum Circle with Unk’l Ray Nutter (interactive drumming activity)

2 p.m. 3NMotion (dance troupe)

Francis Field is located at 25 W. Castillo Drive in St. Augustine’s historic district. For more information, please call EPIC at (904) 829-2273 or visit epicbh.org.

 
 
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Smithsonian magazine is hosting a nationwide celebration of museums on Saturday, September 22! The organization is partnering with more than 1,250 museums and cultural institutions around the U.S. to offer free general admission.

Just go to the Museum Day site, select your museum of choice, and provide your name and email address. Your ticket will arrive in your email inbox. According to the website, a ticket is good for free general admission for two people on Museum Day.

 

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If you love live music but have no interest in paying Ticketmaster prices to see shows, you are in luck! St. Augustine’s 2018 Sing Out Loud Music Festival runs the first four weekends in September and performances are free and open to the public!

The festival includes concerts at 19 venues throughout St. Johns County including the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, Colonial Oak Music Park, Plum Gallery on Aviles Street, Bokeh, Dog Rose Brewing, Limelight Theatre, Nobby’s, Sarbez and others.

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