Moving to a new area can be a challenge.Whether you have just moved here or are planning to I’m going to try and help navigate St Augustine as a local.
There is such a busy tourism industry in St. Augustine that you might easily overlook some of the most practical and best features of your new hometown… So today I’m going to give you some tips on living la vida local in St. Augustine!
Get familiar with traffic and trends. We love our visitors to St. Augustine, and rely on vacationers and tourists for much of the thriving economy we enjoy. But for locals that can get real old, real fast. So be aware of the high tourist seasons and events that will impact traffic and crowds.
In the summer the beaches and historic downtown will be busier with beach goers and families on vacation. As a local you will quickly learn to drive a bit further south or north to find less crowded beaches. As a local you probably won’t be taking the trolley tours on the hottest days of the year but you’ll at least no to stay clear of these area during peak vacation season.
Nights of Lights in St Augustine
The annual Nights Of Lights festival around the holiday season also draws BIG crowds to historic downtown. We locals love the historic district all lit up but we know to avoid trying to park in the City during these evenings. Instead, catch a ride into town or take in the view from the water.
Other events pop up occasionally that will also bring in more visitors: a concert at The Amphitheater, the annual Cathedral fair, and Music By The Sea always cause some traffic jams, so just keep an eye on the calendars and plan your drives and appointments accordingly.
Meeting likeminded people make any place a home and in St Augustine, there are endless possibilities for every hobby, activity, and interest to get involved in! From beach volleyball at the St. Johns County Pier, to bowling leagues, art classes, community gardening, open mic comedy nights, musical jams, and foodies meetups – there are social groups, events, and like-minded friends just waiting to meet you.
With our beautiful weather year-round and lots of opportunities for adventure on both land and sea, there’s so much opportunity to link up with other surfers, runners, golfers, and boaters. Honestly – just show up on the beach or dock and you will find yourself surrounded by a welcoming community!
Of course if you are looking for some chances to connect with new people in the comfort of Air Conditioning, you are not alone! Join in on one of the many art groups, choirs, dart leagues or a book club. Meetups.com and Facebook groups are great places to check out online and to connect with other locals with the same interests.
Things to do and Places to See
St Augustine is full of hidden gems so be sure to take the time to explore them.
We have so much to offer here for dining and entertainment options, you rarely go wrong, but avoid the long waits for tables at the busy downtown hot spots and check out the taco stands, organic cafes, and long-standing neighborhood favorites around town. Rather than picking your next dinner based off of Yelp, ask your new neighbors or “natives” their favorite places – the answers might surprise you and because some of them have been around for so long they don’t spend the money on big marketing to the tourists! Some of my favorite lesser known spots include the Back 40 Urban Cafe and Casa Benedetto. And if you love Grilled Cheese, Sarbez is a local fave.
Even though you are a local you should always have fun Playing the Tourist…but only At the right times!
Don’t miss out on all the amazing history and thriving art, music, and entertainment. Luckily for us locals, we get a few months of slower tourism and big perks to make the most of enjoying this unique town.
Locals Month in St Augustine
In September we celebrate “Locals Month”: all residents get FREE or discounted tickets for the “tourist” spots like the Colonial Quarter, the Lighthouse, Fountain of Youth, and Ripley’s Believe it or not! September also hosts the annual “Sing Out Loud” music festival – a mostly free event with multiple shows and concerts throughout the city, featuring both local artists and national gigs.
We also have the chance to enjoy ongoing events like the First Friday Art Walk and Vilano Beach Artisans Market. Which brings me to your local businesses.
St. Augustine is full of amazing homegrown businesses. From food trucks to breweries to boutiques, It’s easy to avoid franchises and big-brand box stores when you can here. Many local businesses offer resident discounts and returning customer rewards, so share the love and support local. And be sure to also check out some of our fantastic thrift stores that support non profits like Aylas Acres No Kill animal rescue and the Betty Griffin center.
Most of all, don’t forget that you are in Florida now so take some time to relax and enjoy. Whatever your work schedule or daily demands are, the lifestyle offered in St. Augustine makes it super easy to sneak away and hang out on the beach for an hour or all day. So don’t forget to get you beach permit so you can drive on the beach for super easy access.
Like we have already mentioned, there are endless activities, events and entertainment to check out, and it’s not just for the tourists so take advantage, enjoy the beautiful weather and embrace the reasons you moved here. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!