As the oldest city in the nation, it comes as no surprise that St. Augustine is filled to the brim with fascinating history and incredible stories. The best part? You can experience a fair amount of this history by paying a visit to local St. Augustine museums. With so many to choose from, how can you possibly decide which ones are worth the visit? We have the answers! Here are some of the best must-see museums that you’ll want to visit again and again. You can also find even more local museums and other fun things to do in St. Augustine by downloading your free copy of our Vacation Guide!
Our Favorite St. Augustine Museums
1. Lightner Museum
The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine is so mesmerizing, it has become a staple of our community! It was built in 1888 by Henry Morganson Flagler as the spectacular Alzacar Hotel. In the 1940s, it was repurposed into a museum that houses an extensive collection of fine and decorative art. During your visit to the museum, you’ll come across hundreds of fascinating treasures, including popular items like the mummy, human hair art, and Tiffany glass. No matter what suits your fancy, you’ll be sure to find a fascinating piece among the museum’s four floors.
2. St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
Did you know that St. Augustine was once a popular port for pirates? The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum perfectly illustrates the city’s history with the swashbuckling rogues and is even home to the world’s largest collection of pirate artifacts. Under one roof, you’ll find Blackbeard’s own blunderbuss, one of the three remaining Jolly Roger flags, the world’s oldest wanted poster, and the original treasure chest of Captain Thomas Tew. The museum also organizes fun activities for the whole family such as pirate tours, viewings of a Disney-produced special effect show about Blackbeard’s final battle, and more.
3. Castillo de San Marcos
Located in the historic district, the Castillo de San Marcos is one of St. Augustine’s most treasured historic sites. For over 340 years, this stone fort as stood as a symbol of human determination and protected the city from attacks by sea. During your visit to the fort, you can explore the rooms that once housed the city’s soldiers and prisoners, enjoy the view from the gun deck, or watch cannon and weaponry demonstrations.
4. Potter’s Wax Museum
With wax figures of all your favorite celebrities, political figures, and all-star athletes, the Potter’s Wax Museum offers a surreal experience for visitors from all over the nation. As you explore, you’ll have the opportunity to admire and take pictures with over 150 well-known figures including Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, Einstein, Captain Jack Sparrow, Michael Jackson, and several U.S. presidents.
5. St. Augustine Lighthouse
Erected in 1874, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is the oldest surviving brick structure in the entire city. It served St. Augustine as a navigation aid for many years before being repurposed as a museum. More than 225,000 visitors climb to the lighthouse tower each year to enjoy the lovely water views and learn more about the lighthouse’s role in St. Augustine’s history. There are also several special tours that you can enjoy such as the spooky Dark of the Moon ghost tour and the Sunset Moonrise V.I.P. Experience.
6. Villa Zorayda
The Villa Zorayda was originally constructed in 1883 and served as the winter home of Franklin Webster Smith, a millionaire idealistic reformer from Boston. However, the home’s true significance comes from the architectural design. It was built to resemble a section of the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It was this very building that set the precedence for St. Augustine and started the Moorish Spanish Revival style of architecture that you see throughout the city. Visitors are invited to walk through the home, admire its beauty, and learn more about its many roles as a home, casino, and restaurant.
7. St. Augustine History Museum
Henry Flagler was a catalyst for change in real estate and transportation. His contributions to Florida were so great that the St. Augustine History Museum is dedicated to him. During your tour, you’ll see several authentic artifacts, unpublished photos, and learn more about the state of the city during its time under Spanish and British rule. Admission to the museum is included with the purchase of an Old Town Trolley Tour ticket!
Experience St. Augustine History During Your Stay at Victorian House
The perfect Florida escape calls for a unique place to stay! We invite you to lodge with us in our historic bed & breakfast nestled between two of the city’s oldest streets. Guests of the Victorian House are treated like family and enjoy cozy guest rooms, a hot breakfast each morning, and highly-appointed amenities to make you feel at home.
For romantic getaways, the Marcie Room is a real treat! The romantic and elegant ambiance of the suite is perfectly paired with modern amenities and features such as an in-room Jacuzzi tub, a private porch overlooking the historic streets, an electric fireplace, flat screen television, and more.