15 Fun things to do with your dog in St Augustine

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St. Augustine, Florida, welcomes pups with open arms. In fact, a survey done by Chewy.com rated the coastal city as one of the 10 most dog-friendly vacation destinations in 2021. A local statistician found that at least one dog is found in more than half of the homes in the city, so you know your fur baby will be welcome too. Another fascinating fact about this place is that it is the oldest continuously populated city in the US founded by Europeans. 

One of the reasons that St. Augustine is so popular with tourists is the weather. There are not too many places where you can walk around in shorts and sandals in January. 

The average temperature all year long is 75 degrees, with highs of low 80s in the winter. Summers are hot, with temps in the upper 90s, so pack your swimming suit and sunscreen. 

We found a plethora of dog-friendly places in the city but here are 15 fun things to do with your dog in St. Augustine to get you started. 

Go for a cruise: Scenic Cruise of St. Augustine

Since you are in the sunny city of St. Augustine, Florida, you should take your fur baby on a cruise. The St. Augustine Scenic Cruise has been operating since the 1900s and is known for its unique and friendly tours. And they love dogs, so you can bring your pup as long as you keep him on a leash at all times. The 75-minute cruise will help you learn about the Usinas who came to St. Augustine from Minorca Island in 1777. 

The scenic cruise is narrated by the captain who will point out all the attractions and hidden spots that many do not see. If you get hungry, don’t worry, there is a cash bar on board that serves soft drinks, bottled water, wine, beer, and snacks. Another cruise you and your canine companion may like is the Nights of Lights one-hour tour to enjoy the lights of the city while sipping hot chocolate. They also have a few other seasonal cruises you can inquire about online. 

Turn back time: Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

All the way back in 2400 BC, the Native Americans occupied the central area of Florida and parts of Georgia, but the city of St. Augustine was not incorporated until 1565 when Pedro Menendez de Aviles discovered it. But it was not called known as the Fountain of Youth until 1898 when Dr. Luella MacConnell named it after finding what Ponce De Leon called the healing waters that maintain youth when he visited in 1513. 

You and your pup can drink from the Fountain of Youth at the Spring House, watch the Blacksmith work, and check out the Menendez Settlement. Be sure to see some of the other historic sites on the 15-acre property. Located along the Matanzas River, the park boasts a 600-foot observation deck, a Timucua Indian Village, and a planetarium. There is also a family of peacocks living on the grounds, so keep your fur buddy leashed while you are there. 

Go for a train ride: Ripley’s Red Train Tours

Ripley’s Red Train Tours is a pup-friendly (dogs have to be 20 pounds or less) tour company that has been showing people around since 1953. Why drive yourself around St. Augustine to see the sights when you can let Red Train Tours take you? This adventurous tour is narrated by the driver and will entertain you with jokes and interesting facts while you cruise around the city seeing over 100 attractions. 

The train also makes 20 stops along the way, so if you and your pup want to get a closer look at something, you can get off and then catch another train when you are ready to continue. Some of the most popular sites include the Lightner Museum in Henry Flagler’s Hotel, the Castillo de San Marcos, the 1891 Old Jail, and the Villa Zorayda. The trip will last as long as you like up until the trains stop running at 5 PM. 

Splash and play: Vilano Beach

Between the North Atlantic Ocean and Tolomato River, Vilano Beach is a long stretch of beautiful sandy beaches where you and your leashed canine companion can spend the whole day playing. The beach is a regular spot for locals who like to surf, fish, and sunbathe, so it can get crowded. If your pup does not like crowds, come early on a weekday. Most of the anglers and surfers will be around Porpoise Point and the jetties. 

You can often see the group of porpoises that are frequently nearby on the inlet side, and there are bottlenose dolphins here as well. You may even see a manatee. Along the long stretch of beach, you will also find several parks and even a castle. Nease Beachfront Park has over 3 acres of space where you and your dog can explore. If you get hungry, stop in at The Reef for some delicious seafood at their waterfront tables. 

Take an eco-tour: St. Augustine Eco Tours

Fido is welcome to join you on one of the boating expeditions, including the Beachcombing Tour, Photography Tour, or the Dolphin, Birding, and Nature Tour. The most popular is the nature excursion where you will join a group of others and a guide on a 90-minute ride to learn about the natural habitats of the many native animals in Florida. The 2-hour beach tour is also fun as you and your pooch can see a variety of critters like jellyfish, marine worms, and fiddler crabs. 

The photography trip is also popular and lasts about 2 hours as well. For something different, you can go sailing on a 27-foot catamaran. This trip often includes sights of dolphins and wading birds. If you want to be more hands-on and get closer to the water, your fur baby is allowed to join you on a kayak trip through the salt marsh. No experience is needed. The guide will give you a short tutorial, and then you are off. 

Go to school: Oldest Wooden School House

Take your canine companion to school to learn all about the Genopoly House. It dates back to 1740, when it was the home of the Genopoly family, until the early 1800s when the Minorcan children became the first students to learn English. According to records, it cost between 12 and 25 cents per week to attend, and they wrote on parchment paper with quill pens and ink. The last class was attended in 1864 and became a historical site. 

Here you and your pup can browse the area and see the neighborhood where the children played in the 1800s and the guard house where soldiers stood posted during the Seminole War. Although dogs are not allowed inside for the tour, there is much to see outside on the grounds and in the garden. You have to keep him on a leash at all times and clean up after him right away. Afterward, treat your well-behaved dog to a treat from Likit DoleWhip.

Enjoy wine, and a carriage ride: The Tasting Tours

Speaking of treats, dogs are totally welcome on the Tasting Tours private tours, where you can enjoy wine, snacks, and a carriage ride. The 45-minute ride includes a historical narration as you clop along the city streets. This is the perfect date night for you, your loved one, and your pooch rides for free. You will start at ChocoLattes Dessert and Wine Bar, where you can enjoy some wine or coffee while Fido enjoys a biscuit and water before the ride. 

The ride includes a tour of the historic district to see the landmarks such as the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the Lewis House, the 17th century Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Flagler College, and the Ancient City Baptist Church. The carriage ride will also take you along the unique shops on St. George Street, where the locals sell candy and crafts. Be sure to bring your camera with you.  

Grab a brew: St. Augustine Distillery

If you like whiskey and bourbon, bring your pup to St. Augustine Distillery. Leashed and friendly dogs are allowed inside the place where you can enjoy a tour for free. See how the oldest ice factory in Florida was turned into a popular distillery. They show you how they make their spirits starting from the field to the bottle. Not only that, but you will also learn how to make the four signature cocktails they are famous for. 

Watch as the team distills and bottles the finished product, and get some samples while you are at it. Then you can get some selfies with the bourbon barrels and stills. After the tour, take a seat at the Ice Plant Bar, where you can grab a burger or seafood with some delicious cocktails or soft drinks. Your pup can enjoy a burger as well. They are fresh and made from local grass-fed beef. 

Go shopping: Paradise Poochie

Paradise Poochie is a pet store that sells toys, leashes, collars, and treats, as well as a bakery where friendly, leashed dogs are welcome to help you shop. Who else is better to let you know what they like so you can get it for them? You can try on that collar before buying it to make sure you get the right size and let your pooch sniff the treat packages to see which one he likes best. 

The store has been making and selling nutritional pet food for years and is proud to show off its delicious biscuits and other treats by giving out free samples. They have all the specialty dog foods for special dogs and natural foods from Natura Pet Products, and snacks that are just as tasty as they are healthy. Just don’t tell your dog that it is healthy, or he may not try it. And don’t forget to grab him a nice t-shirt or stylish hat. 

Run off leash: Veterans Park Dog Park

With 3 acres of fenced greenspace, your canine companion, can run free and play with other fur babies until he is worn out. There are separate fenced sections for large and small dogs, drinking fountains, Mutt Mittens poles, a picnic shelter, and lots of room to romp around or play fetch. Make sure you remove your dog’s leash before entering, and then just sit back and let him play. He will likely have plenty of other fur babies to play with. 

Veteran’s Park has 50 acres to enjoy with your pup on the leash too! Not only can you see some awesome monuments and memorials, but you can also learn a bit of history as well. Or you can watch the skaters at the skate park, relax at one of the picnic pavilions, and take a long walk on one of the trails. If you get hungry, there is a concession stand to grab some snacks. 

Take a walk along the coast: Frank B. Butler County Park

A dog-friendly park with a beach and plenty of space to play is exactly what you need to cool off after playing at Veteran’s Park Dog Park. This park on Anastasia Island is perfect! Join your furry family member in the water and splash around with him. If he is a swimmer, go ahead and take him for a swim but it is best to make sure he has a life jacket, and you have to keep his leash on too. Which is good just in case he wants to keep swimming out to sea. 

Not a fan of swimming in the ocean? That’s okay. On the other side of the park is Matanzas River, which is just as much fun. Your pup will love digging in the sand dunes and knocking down your sand castle if you build one. The park also features picnic areas and pavilions, restrooms, showers, and playgrounds. If you get hungry, there are typically food trucks nearby.

Play at 2 dog parks: Davis Park

Davis Park is a large park with a vast array of different amenities like baseball, soccer, and football fields, several ponds, hiking trails, tennis courts, and playgrounds. But the most important thing Fido is interested in is the 2 dog parks in this dog-loving park. The Davis Park Dog Run is along the large pond by the soccer fields. The fenced-in area has about two acres of running space for off-leash play as well as obstacles to play on. 

The Paw Park near the football field parking lot has a variety of agility obstacles for your pooch to play on. And there is a dog wash station next to the concession stand to clean him after he spends all day digging in the dirt and playing in the pond. Speaking of concessions, you and your canine companion can get some refreshments to refuel before heading back to the park or take a walk on the Nocatee Trail.  

Go hiking: Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Pack up some water, snacks, and doggie waste bags, and put on your walking shoes before going to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. The 425-acre park has some awesome dog-friendly trails that you and your bud can explore and enjoy. All 3 of the trails are considered to be easy, and they range from less than 1 mile to 1.7 miles. The Washington Oaks Garden trail is 0.8 miles and takes you through the stunning gardens the park is known for. 

The 1-mile Mala Compra Trail includes some beach access with a bench on a white sandy space dotted with palm trees. You will also enjoy the shaded walk through the hammock mangroves where you will likely see some type of wildlife, from lizards to skunks. And the Jungle Road to Timucuan Loop trail is 1.7 miles with a stunning array of plants and flowers, as well as another beach. Keep your pup on a leash at all times. 

Learn some history: Spanish Military Hospital Museum

The Spanish Military Hospital Museum in St. Augustine is a great place whether you are interested in medical facts or just want to learn more about the Spanish history in Florida. Take the guided tour with a docent that really knows what they are talking about. You will see ancient medical instruments, old uniforms, and even a demonstration of a colonial surgery technique. What’s even more interesting is that it is on the oldest street in the US. 

You and your fur buddy will travel back in time to the Spanish Military Hospital Museum, where you can watch an apothecary create medicines and take part in some interactive exhibits. Also, find out how colonial herbs were part of the origins of some of the most popular medications today. Between the Governor’s House and the Ximenez Fatio House Museum next to the Matanzas River, this whole area is full of history and fun things to do.

Dine with your dog: Ann O’Malley’s

St. Augustine has more dog-friendly eateries than most places because the weather is always warm so many restaurants have outdoor seating. Ann O’Malley’s is one of the most popular, located right across from the San Marcos Castle National Monument. The cozy Irish deli and bar allow you and your pup to make your own sandwiches, enjoy live music, and taste some Guinness cocktails. 

The pub can be found in front of the Around the World Market Place, and you will notice right away that it is a popular local bar, so get there early if you want to get a seat on the patio. Watch your favorite sports game while enjoying a brew or two while your fur baby enjoys some of your burgers and fries. Choose from 22 kinds of beer, cider, and seltzer and 15 sandwiches. Some events you may enjoy include open mic night on Tuesday, live music on Wednesday, and trivia nights on Thursdays. 

The Final Woof

With so many fun things to do with your dog in St. Augustine, you and your canine companion can have a blast every day without running out of ideas. 

You will probably want to take your pooch with you whenever you dine out, and in St. Augustine, you can! Some of the dozens of restaurants include Harry’s Cajun & Seafood on Avenida Menendez, the Florida Cracker Cafe on St. George Street, the Salt Life Food Shack on Beach Boulevard, and Beachcomber on St. Augustine Street. If you want pizza, take your fur baby to the Mellow Mushroom on Anastasia Boulevard or Viola’s Pizza, Pasta, & Seafood on St. Augustine. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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