I recently went to St. Augustine, Florida, with my family at Christmastime, and it was an absolute dream! I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, but I had seen some beautiful photos of the Christmas lights that encompassed the entire town on social media and recommended that my family and I visit.
When we first saw the lights, we came from the south over the Bridge of Lions, so we saw the full scope of the lights before even entering the city. I hadn’t told my family anything about this event except that there was supposed to be pretty Christmas lights, and they were amazed at the sheer amount of lights. “Oh wow!” was everyone’s response to seeing the lights. The entire city was glowing and radiating light.
As we drove closer, we realized how popular of an event this was. Despite the pandemic, there were hundreds if not thousands of people walking through the streets of St. Augustine. Welcome to Florida during a pandemic. If you’re nervous about the pandemic, I would caution against visiting right now. There was a lot of people, and many of them not wearing masks since we were all walking around outside. My family and I still took the proper precautions.
We drove around for a bit and eventually found parking at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility, which I believe was $10 to park for the night. At the garage, there was an option to pay for a tram to drive you around town so that you can see all of the lights without walking everywhere. My family didn’t do this option because we enjoy walking, but it’s a good option if you’re traveling with those who have difficulty walking long distances. It also looks like a party because they play Christmas music and every time one passed us, people were always singing and greeting the passerbys.
Most, if not all, of the shops and restaurants were open for business. Live music spilled out the doors of bars and speakeasy’s, decadent scents wafted out of the confectioneries and restaurants, and light filled nearly every corner of the town.
I’d never been to St. Augustine before this visit, although it’s been on my list, and I found it incredibly charming. It reminds me of New Orleans, but cleaner and classier. If you know me, you’ll know that I adore New Orleans so when I discovered how similar the two cities were, well, let’s just say that I’ll likely be visiting frequently (post-pandemic).
The main light area is the Plaza de la Constitución, which was beautiful. There was an adorable young couple taking their wedding photos there, which I’m sure will turn out gorgeous. It’s definitely the perfect spot and someplace that I’d consider taking photos (of any kind).
There are also tons of lights along the boardwalk / highway 1 route. The Hilton hotel is almost entirely covered in lights, which must’ve taken days, if not weeks, to decorate. The Tini Martini Bar was also adorable, and I would’ve loved to stop and have a drink there if there wasn’t so many people.
Perhaps the only place not decked out in Christmas lights was the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. It has the typical lights that light it up year-round, but no Christmas lights. It’s likely because it’s a historical monument from the 17th century, so it’s probably best that they preserve the monument. The monument is closed so you can’t go inside, but you can still enjoy the exterior in the moonlight.
After walking around and grabbing a small snack, my family decided to head home. I will definitely be visiting St. Augustine in the daylight again soon and I’m so excited. I can’t recommend this trip enough, despite the pandemic. It’s a truly magical experience.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to see the Christmas lights at St. Augustine? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!