Are you looking for a perfect beach getaway in the charming city of St. Augustine, FL? Look no further! As a mom of four young girls, I’m always searching for fun ways to keep my kids entertained during the summertime. I’m a St Augustine native who knows all the best beach and pool spots in town. Whether you’re a resident in need of some family-friendly fun or a visitor planning a trip to our historic city, these beaches are sure to provide an unforgettable experience for everyone. So pack your sunscreen, beach toys, and towels, and let’s dive into the best beaches St. Augustine has to offer!
Guana (GTM Reserve)
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Reserve) is a nature lover’s paradise. It’s a haven for families seeking outdoor adventures in St. Augustine. Spanning over 74,000 acres, the GTM Reserve offers a wide range of activities and attractions. Nature enthusiasts can explore miles of scenic trails and horseback riding trails. They can also spot native wildlife like the popular gopher tortoise, and observe the delicate balance of estuarine ecosystems.
Additionally, the reserve provides beach access, allowing visitors to enjoy the pristine shores and sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Families with little kids will find GTM Reserve particularly appealing due to its educational opportunities and family-friendly amenities. The reserve offers guided tours, interpretive programs, and interactive exhibits.
The beach access provides a safe and picturesque setting for little ones to build sandcastles, splash in the gentle waves, and embark on memorable seaside adventures. GTM Reserve is a treasure trove of natural beauty and educational experiences, making it one of the best Beaches in St. Augustine.
Parking & Access:
North Beach GTM Reserve – Parking ($3 cash), cross highway, boardwalk
Middle Beach GTM Reserve – Parking ($3 cash), cross highway, boardwalk
South Beach GTM Reserve – Parking ($3 cash), cross highway, boardwalk
Vilano Beach: For Shark Teeth & Waves
Tucked away just north of St Augustine and south of Ponte Vedra Beach lies Vilano Beach. Only a few minutes from historic downtown, the main Vilano Beach access point features restrooms, a picnic shelter and a boardwalk to the beach area. The water is a little rougher and deeper here, in comparison to St Augustine Beach. However, it makes for great boogie boarding for older kids or surfing for teens and adults.
What really sets Vilano Beach apart is its breathtaking views. From Porpoise Point you can see the skyline of Historic St Augustine and the St Augustine Lighthouse. My kids love playing in the rocks and discovering fun creatures and shells in the tidal pools. Vilano Beach is also AMAZING for finding the best shells and shark teeth. Other nearby attractions include Castle Ottis and the Vilano Pier. If you’re looking for the best waterfront restaurants in Vilano Beach, check out Beaches at Vilano, Caps on the Water, Aunt Kate’s and The Reef Restaurant for delicious food and stunning views.
Parking & Access:
Vilano Beach Oceanfront Park – Parking and restroom facilities
Vilano Point beach access – street parking
Anastasia State Park
For a truly immersive nature experience, venture a few miles south of St. Augustine and discover the wonders of Anastasia State Park. This natural oasis has four miles of pristine coastline, providing endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration. Access is $8 per vehicle for the day and the park is open from 8am to sundown all year long.
One of the park’s highlights is the Salt Run, a tidal salt marsh where families can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding. The calm, shallow waters are perfect for beginners and children who want to try their hand at these water activities. Keep your eyes peeled for the various bird species and marine life that call the marsh their home.
Anastasia State Park also offers plenty of recreational opportunities on land. Rent bicycles and embark on a scenic ride through the park’s nature trails. Walk the boardwalk through the sand dunes, a great place to spot the endangered Anastasia Island Beach Mouse. Play at the playground with younger kids or set up a picnic in one of the designated areas. If you’re up for a unique experience, consider booking a camping spot within the park.
St. Augustine Beach
Probably the most popular option, St Augustine Beach is a true paradise for families seeking a day of fun. While the natural beauty of the beach alone is worth the visit, the amenities available along the coastline make it a haven for families. From convenient parking areas to restrooms and picnic pavilions, these free amenities help make this one of the Best Beaches in St. Augustine.
If planning a visit to St Augustine Beach with little kids, I highly recommend checking the tides before planning your day. We always try to visit during an outgoing tide (closer to low tide, the better). This creates little tidal pools that are perfect for small kids to play in the water without being swept up or intimidated by larger incoming waves.
Had enough of the beach? If you’re looking for additional adventures in the St Augustine Beach, discover hundreds of exotic animals at the Alligator Farm, visit Ron Parker Park, climb all 315 steps of the St Augustine Lighthouse for a breathtaking view, or take a swing at Fiesta Falls Mini Golf.
To take a break from the sun, head to one of the beachfront restaurants like Salt Life Food Shack, Sunset Grille, or Beachcomber St Augustine and savor delicious seafood or grab a refreshing treat from Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard, Mr. Morgan’s Shaved Ice, Cone Heads Ice Cream. St. Augustine Beach truly has it all, making it a must-visit destination for families in search of the perfect beach day.
Parking & Access:
St Augustine Beach Pier – free parking, restrooms, playground and splash pad, paid pier access
Ocean Hammock Park – Parking, boardwalk to beach
One of my family’s favorite local St Augustine beaches is Butler Beach. This prime beach spot is typically less busy and more secluded compared to other area beaches. The beach’s uncrowded nature allows for a more peaceful and intimate experience. Butler Beach is an ideal spot for families seeking a tranquil day by the sea. Whether you’re lounging under an umbrella, building sandcastles, or taking a refreshing dip in the ocean, Butler Beach offers a slice of coastal paradise that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and connected with nature.
Butler Beach is also a historic landmark. In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his companions were graciously accommodated by Frank B. Butler at his motel during a highly publicized civil rights visit to St. Augustine. Learn more about the role St Augustine, FL played in the Civil Rights Movement by watching the documentary Dare Not Walk Alone.
Butler Beach is not only significant historically, but also ecologically. The beach encompasses an environmentally sensitive dune system that serves as the natural habitat for the native Anastasia Island Beach mice and gopher tortoises.
Parking & Access:
Butler Park East – Parking and restrooms, boardwalk to beach
Crescent Beach Park – Parking and restrooms
Matanzas Inlet (Fort Matanzas National Monument)
Are you ready to combine history with your beach excursion? Look no further than Matanzas Inlet, a place where the past meets the present in a remarkable way. Located just a short drive south from the best beaches in St. Augustine, Matanzas Inlet offers a beach experience unlike any other.
As you arrive at Matanzas Inlet, you’ll be captivated by the area’s rich history. This site played a significant role in the Spanish colonization of Florida and witnessed many battles. The remnants of Fort Matanzas, a Spanish fortification built in the 18th century, stand as a testament to the past. You can even take a guided tour of the fort by boat. Learn about its intriguing history and enjoy panoramic views of the inlet.
Matanzas Inlet is special because it has very minimal waves, making it great for little kids. This area is also well known for jet skiing, fishing and tubing adventures.
Parking & Access:
Matanzas Beach Ramp – Parking, this is the LAST vehicle exit from the beach
Fort Matanzas National Monument – Parking on both sides of street (east side has a boardwalk to the Atlantic Ocean, west side has a boardwalk to Intracoastal Waterway)
Can You Drive on St Augustine Beaches?
Yes, you can drive on St Augustine Beach! St. Johns County is home to approximately 12 miles of beaches that offer the convenience of vehicle access. Visitors can enjoy year-round vehicle access, although it is subject to the prevailing beach conditions. From March to September, a beach driving pass is required for vehicles, ensuring a smooth and regulated experience. During the months of May to October, vehicle access is restricted to the hours between 8:00am and 7:30pm. Driving on the beach is a unique experience and contributes to the area offering the best beaches in St. Augustine.
Vehicle Access locations for Driving on St Augustine Beach
- Porpoise Point
- A Street
- Ocean Trace
- Matanzas Ave
- Mary Street
- Crescent Beach
- Fort Matanzas (exit only ramp)
Pools & Splash Parks in St Augustine
St. Augustine is not only a city steeped in history and charm but also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. Whether you choose to visit the lively St. Augustine Beach, the tranquil Vilano Beach, the nature lover’s paradise of Anastasia State Park, or the historically significant Matanzas Inlet, you’re in for a treat.
St. Augustine, FL and its surrounding areas are not only blessed with stunning beaches but also offer a range of exciting water destinations that guarantee a splashing good time for families. Let’s explore some additional fun water places in St. Augustine to swim and cool off.
St. Augustine Pier Splash Pad
While primarily known for its iconic pier extending into the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Augustine Pier and Pavilion offers more than just breathtaking views. This family-friendly destination boasts an expansive oceanfront pavilion complete with a splash park, picnic tables and a beachfront park with children’s playground. Kids can splash and play in the interactive water features while parents relax on the nearby benches, enjoying the picturesque scenery. After a refreshing dip, take a leisurely stroll along the pier, play beach volleyball, cast a fishing line, or indulge in some delicious treats from the concession stand. The St. Augustine Pier and Pavilion is a perfect combination of fun, relaxation, and easy access to the beach.
When it comes to finding a place that combines fun and fitness, the St Augustine YMCA Pool is the ultimate destination. Nestled within the vibrant “Island” community, the YMCA Pool offers a refreshing oasis for families seeking a splashing good time while promoting an active lifestyle.
The YMCA Pool provides a safe and inviting environment for swimmers of all ages and skill levels. With its sparkling blue waters and well-maintained facilities, it’s the perfect place to beat the heat and enjoy a day of aquatic adventures. Whether you’re looking to swim laps, practice your strokes, or simply cool off with a leisurely dip, the YMCA Pool caters to all. Access to the pool is included with any membership.
Willie Gallimore Center Pool & Splash Pad
Another great pool to cool off in is the Willie Galimore Recreation Center. Operated by the St. Augustine Family YMCA, this seasonal swimming pool located in historic St Augustine is $2 flat rate for ages 13-59, and $1 for children under 13 and seniors. Be sure to grab a towel and check the open swim times before planning your visit.
Solomon Calhoun Center
Visitors and residents of St. Augustine can also check out the Solomon Calhoun Community Center. There are specified hours for this pool as well so be sure to check beforehand.
The Solomon Calhoun Community Center Pool is a Jr. Olympic sized swimming pool in addition to a lesson pool with a splash area. They host lap swim, adult lap swim, recreation / open swim, swim lessons, the SJC Jr. Lifeguard Program and the St. Augustine Cyclones Swim Team
Rates are $1 for children, $2 for adults. Multi-use cards are available for purchase too. An $8 card for children and a $13 card for adults covers 12 swim sessions. Annual passes are $110. Call the pool hotline to check the weather status of Solomon Calhoun pool at (904) 209-0380. While locals can pay for their pool visit with a check, they don’t accept credit or debit cards, so definitely plan to bring cash.
St Augustine Shores Swimming Pool
The St. Augustine Shores pool is a hidden gem nestled within the St. Augustine Shores community. With its inviting waters and serene surroundings, this pool offers a peaceful retreat where residents can relax, unwind, and enjoy a refreshing swim in a tranquil setting. The area also has a fenced playground area for kids and a beautiful shaded green field that makes for great picnics. Residents of the community can purchase a pool membership for $37/month or $5/day for adults and $2/day for kids 5 and up. Not a resident, not a problem! Non St Augustine Shores residents can purchase a pool membership for $54/month or $491/year.
Atlantic Beach & Tennis Club
Atlantic Beach & Tennis Club is the “best kept secret” in St. Augustine for those seeking a combination of leisure, recreation, and a luxurious pool experience. With their exclusive memberships, individuals and families can gain access to the club’s top-notch pool facilities including an outdoor and indoor pool space.
The club’s membership options offer a range of benefits, including access to the pool, locker room, gym, sauna, tennis courts and other amenities, ensuring that members can enjoy a resort-like atmosphere and make the most of their leisure time. Whether seeking a place to unwind or a spot to have fun under the sun, Atlantic Beach & Tennis Club’s pool membership provides an exclusive and enjoyable experience for individuals and families alike. Memberships start at $120/month for a family of four.
Ebb Tide/ Ocean Grove
At Ocean Grove RV Resort, guests can enjoy a delightful dining experience at Ebb Tide. The on-site restaurant caters to both RV park visitors and the general public. The restaurant boasts a diverse menu featuring a range of delectable dishes, from fresh seafood to chicken and flavorful vegetarian options. Visitors can take advantage of the resort’s swimming pool, which is available for a nominal fee. This provides an opportunity for both guests and non-guests to cool off and enjoy a refreshing swim in a serene and inviting setting, complementing their dining experience at Ebb Tide.
Bring the whole family for lunch starting at 11 AM, or make your dinner and enjoy one a nightly special after 5 PM while listening to live music. Pool and Swim Day Passes for the heated pool and spa facilities are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12 (blackout dates apply for major holidays).
Pool at Embassy Suites by Hilton St Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort (Castaway Cantina)
The Pool at Embassy Suites by Hilton St Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort offers not only a refreshing aquatic experience but also a delightful dining option with its beachside restaurant, Castaway Cantina. Situated right by the pool, Castaway Cantina is open to the public and provides a vibrant and casual atmosphere where guests can enjoy delicious food and drinks without having to stray too far from the water.
Whether you’re craving a juicy burger, a refreshing salad, or a tropical cocktail, Castaway Cantina has something for everyone. With its convenient location and mouthwatering menu, this poolside restaurant adds an extra layer of convenience and enjoyment to the pool experience, allowing guests to savor delectable flavors while soaking up the sun and enjoying the resort’s oceanfront ambiance. While we’ve never personally taken a dip in this pool, we have friends who have. Be sure to call in advanced to double check that they still allow guests, (904) 342-4414.
Serenata Beach Club
Serenata Beach Club is a luxurious beachfront oasis located in Ponte Vedra Beach, just a short drive from St. Augustine. This exclusive club offers an array of amenities that cater to both relaxation and recreation. The highlight of the club is undoubtedly its stunning pools, providing a perfect retreat for members and their families. With a large main pool and a separate lap pool, swimmers of all ages can enjoy a refreshing dip or engage in invigorating laps.
For families, Serenata Beach Club features dedicated kid areas that guarantee endless entertainment. The children’s pool area has playful water features and a shallow depth. It’s a safe and exciting space for young ones to splash and play. Additionally, the club offers a supervised Kids Club where children can participate in organized activities, arts and crafts. With attentive staff and engaging programs, parents can relax knowing their kids are in good hands.
Serenata Beach Club also provides direct access to a pristine, private beach. From leisurely walks along the shoreline to building sandcastles and collecting seashells, the beach offers endless possibilities for beachside relaxation and family fun.
Sun Safety in St Augustine, FL
When enjoying the sun at the beaches and pools of St. Augustine, FL with your little ones, it’s essential to prioritize their safety. Here are some tips to ensure a fun and safe experience:
Protect your child’s delicate skin by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if they are swimming or sweating.
Set up a beach umbrella or find shaded areas near the pool to provide relief from direct sunlight. Encourage regular breaks from the sun to prevent overheating.
Keep your kids hydrated by providing plenty of water and fluids throughout the day. Pack a cooler with refreshing drinks and snacks to keep them energized.
Use Protective Gear
Dress your little ones in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs. Don’t forget wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses to shield their face and eyes from harmful rays.
Practice Water Safety
Always keep a close eye on your children when they are near water. Ensure they wear appropriate flotation devices and teach them basic water safety rules.
Stay in Designated Swimming Areas
When at the beach, swim in areas with lifeguards and follow their instructions. Teach your children about rip currents and how to stay safe if caught in one.
Be Cautious of Hot Surfaces
Sand and pool decks can become scorching hot in the sun. Have your kids wear sandals or water shoes to protect their feet from burns.
By following these safety tips, you can create a sun-smart and enjoyable experience for your family while exploring the amazing pools and best beaches in St. Augustine, FL.