St. John’s County Ocean Pier || Photo Credit: Allison Jones

Backyard Explorations: St. Augustine Beach

The first of my backyard explorations can be categorized as a relaxing getaway. A one and a half hour drive from Gainesville to the east coast sits the nation’s oldest permanent city, St. Augustine. This historic city is the perfect place to explore with family, friends or a significant other. Every time I travel to St. Augustine I am immediately drawn to its sunny, dog-friendly beaches and incredible seaside cuisine.

Get Local Tips When Exploring

When visiting St. Augustine Beach this past weekend I was given a few tips. In my eyes, tips help a good exploration become great. Katie, 19, a local Flagler College student, shared with me her insights on how to best explore St. Augustine beach, especially on high traffic days like Saturday and Sunday.

Tip #1:  Park on a side street instead of the main public beach parking

Parking is always something to think about when heading to the beach. Katie told me to park on 16th Street, which is right off A1A Beach Blvd. I immediately found a spot to park despite the time being 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday.  16th Street is also the closest access to the pier, so I did not have to carry my belongings for too long.

Beach Access|| Credit: localguidesa.com

Tip #2: Sit by the St. John’s County Ocean Pier

This pier is not only beautiful to look at, but also the area around the pier is a hub for surfing and fishing. The pier costs $1 to walk down as a sightseer and $3 to fish for non-residents of St. John’s County. If you would rather stand under the pier than on top of it, the pier also provides shade to get some relief from the Florida heat. Another great aspect of this beach outlet is the dog-friendly vibe. I saw about 20 different kinds of dogs in the few hours I spent at this access.

Dog-Friendly St. Augustine Beach  || Photo Credit: Allison Jones

Tip #3: Take advantage of the seaside cuisine

After my long day at the beach, Katie suggested I take a trip to one of her favorite seaside restaurants called Salt Life Food Shack This restaurant’s open-air concept welcomes all people, no matter how salty or sandy, to dine with them. After ordering a cold local IPA brew and a cup of clam chowder, I was more than content. The late-lunch I was eating managed to get even better after I realized that this restaurant was dog-friendly, too.

St. Augustine Beach Exploration Recap

I will be sure to revisit this easy backyard exploration.  I learned that when heading to explore the east coast on a weekend, it is best to have a plan of action. Luckily, friendly locals are always open to sharing their tips to surviving the crowds, to dining and to exploring right.

Difficulty of Exploration: 4/10

Items Required: Vehicle for transportation, cash, swimsuit

Travel Time from Gainesville: About 1.5 hours drive [depending on traffic]

Contentment Level Post-Trip: 10/10