After our road trip from Miami to Lake Placid, going to St. Augustine for the weekend hardly seemed like a big deal. In fact, since this past summer, even my boys (ages 10 and 8) reconsider what “too far for a weekend” means.
For President’s Day weekend in Florida, you can bet that most camping sites are booked, and we were lucky to find the very last tent-only camping spot without having to head to the panhandle. I spent some time on ReserveAmerica, my camping resource, and we snatched spot 27 at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida about 300 miles from home.
I’ve only done remote camping once, so it’s not like I am an outdoors woman and my definition of “roughing it” is rather broad. The plan was to leave Saturday morning and return Monday. It was Friday at 10:00PM and I still hadn’t started packing. We have been camping a lot lately, and packing has become quite routine so I have a system down. In twenty minutes everything minus the food was put away in bins and ready to go. Yes, I am giving myself a major pat on the back. In the near future I’ll write a packing list so it can be easy for you too! Here is a review of the campsite as well as our favorite activities in beautiful St. Augustine.
Anastasia State Park lies in 1,600 acres of diverse ecosystems including four miles of one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen in Florida – and I have seen many! Yet, the park is basically inside a city with supermarkets and even a Mellow Mushroom (yay) a stones throw away. It is also only a few miles from historic St. Agustine and the Castillo de San Marcos. However, once in the campsite, the world might as well be thousands of miles away. While surrounded by trees, you hear the surf as you hang out by the fire.
There are 139 campsites. I don’t know about the other loops but the sites on ours were pretty tight. We had one car and one tent so things felt okay but groups with two cars might as well be sleeping inside them! It’s a tight squeeze. However, because each site is surrounded by a lot of trees, they are private.
The other con was the only grill is on top of the fireplace. It was very cold when we went (remember, we are Miami people) so I wish we could’ve used the entire fire pit for fire instead of having to sacrifice half of it to charcoal which didn’t provide the heat I craved for.
A super perk, or not depending on what you are into, is an electrical outlet on the campsite. For us, that meant our phones could be charged. For others who knew about this gem, it meant bright Christmas lights providing all the illumination you need on a dark winter’s night. If you decide to camp here, bring whatever electronic convenience you like! There is also a faucet with clean water at the site. I don’t know if it is drinking water, and we didn’t use it to wash our dishes but it’s a nice convenience.
There is much to do at Anastasia State Park including walking along the beautiful beach. There is a tidal pool for water sports though it was too cold when we were there, and even more to do in Old St. Augustine just a few miles away. If you come, bring a bicycle. That is the best way of getting around. There are plenty of paths and traffic to St. Augustine on President’s Day Weekend was horrendous. We could’ve easily biked four miles from our campsite to the Castillo San Marcos in less time than it took to drive there.
There is a bike rental shop somewhere there, but we did not want to add that expense this time around. I was told each bike was about $28 for 24 hours. Therefore, if you come, bring your bikes. You won’t regret it.
For the town itself, you need at least a couple of days. We only had one so here is what we enjoyed most:
Castillo San Marcos – this is a National Monument and very well managed by the National Park Service. The fort is the oldest in the continental United States and full of interesting tidbits which you can learn by exploring the exhibits. It is an example of engineering and diplomacy having peacefully changed hands six times! But I can only handle a short amount of exhibits and instead helped my boys become Master Junior Park Rangers. As in many of the National Parks we’ve been to, you receive a booklet and pencil from the Ranger and set out to answer questions. It’s a great way for kids (and adults) to learn about the park. In the end, they were awarded their patches.
Pirate Museum – This is not my thing, but again, I am surrounded by boys who were in heaven. I thought this would be a cheesy Disney-like trap, but in truth the museum was very interesting with real artifacts and details about the most famous sailors. It was a lot more educational than I ever imagined and worth the money.
Flavors Eatery – There are million places to eat in St. Augustine especially in the old part of town with cobble streets lined with small restaurants, live music, and shops. However, if what you want is good food in a very quaint local head over to Flavors Eatery on 125 Kings Street. And while you are there, say hi to Jane a dear friend who fed a very hungry family of four!
I really could add a million pictures, but you would get bored fast. Unlike visiting St. Augustine … lots of history, natural beauty, and friends you haven’t met yet.