By Melody Larson
What’s a pet owner to do? You want to go on a weekend getaway but you can’t leave your dog at home alone. Well, bring them along of course! I recently took my dog with me on a pet friendly weekend vacation to St. Augustine. This was my first time bringing my dog on vacation. St Augustine is one of my favorite cities to visit and turns out is very dog friendly. I feel like I’m in a European city in St. Augustine with the cobblestone streets, the history of the old buildings and the haunted sites.
Before the trip: Don’t forget to pack for the dog. I packed a plastic bin of dog toys, waste bags, bowls, a portable bowl for water, a gallon of water, bandannas, harness, leashes and dog food for three days.
There are two main driving routes to St. Augustine if you are driving from Orlando. You can take the I-95 highway or the scenic route along SR A1A. We took the highway for half of the drive and then went the rest of the way on the scenic SR A1A route. The scenic route gave us the Ormond Beach view with waves crashing along as we drove.
Day 1 Itinerary: Beach day at the House of Sea and Sun Bed & Breakfast
We checked into our beachside House of Sea and Sun Bed & Breakfast. There is no pet fee here and they allow dogs with no weight limit. The beach is dog friendly but dogs must keep on a leash. This was the first time we brought our dog to the beach and she enjoyed it. We had a beach day this day since it was going to be colder the rest of the weekend.
Dinner near the pier
Later we drove to get dinner at Antonio’s New York Style Pizza near The St John’s County Ocean and Fishing Pier. The other nearby restaurants within walking distance from the Bed & Breakfast were The Beachcomber restaurant directly on the beach, Mango’s Mango’s Caribbean Grill & Bar and The Kookaburra Coffee.
Day 2 Itinerary: Fountain of Youth
Coffee and smoothie fix
We first stopped for an Aussie latte coffee at the outside counter of The Kookaburra Coffee. We then drove and took photos of the tree canopy lined Magnolia Street. We stopped to get a smoothie at the Fountain of Juice located across the street from the Fountain of Youth.
Fountain of Youth Archeological Park
We then took our dog with us to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. You can bring well-behaved leashed pets to the Fountain of Youth. It is mostly an all outside attraction and we spent about three hours here. There are Fountain of Pooch dog water stations all over the park. The Fountain of Youth has peacocks, historical demonstrations, a boardwalk, cannon firings, a gift shop, a planetarium and you can drink from the fountain of youth spring. I got some of the famed spring water in small bottles in the gift shop as souvenirs. There is a Smoked Southern BBQ restaurant on site also for lunch. Cost: Adults: $15; Seniors: $14; Children (6-12): $9; Children (5 and under)
Old Senator Tree
We drove to check out the Old Senator Tree. The Old Senator Tree is the oldest resident of St. Augustine at 600 years old. The gigantic live oak tree sits now in a parking lot of a Howard Johnson hotel. Ponce de Leon himself may have seen this tree when he was in St. Augustine. This is dog friendly since it is outside. Cost: free.
We then drove to the St. Augustine historical district. We parked near the main visitor center Historic Downtown Parking Garage. We walked around St. George Street and saw many people with dogs. We got takeout from Al’s Pizza and Ancient City Brewing beers from a vendor. We ate with our dog at our feet at a table in an outside courtyard on St. George Street. I saw a belly up dog here in the courtyard too.
The Old City Gates
We next walked with our dog to view The City Gates. The Old City Gates were constructed in 1808 from coquina. It is located near St. George Street and the Castillo de San Marcos Fort. I saw a horse and carriage ride near here with people holding their two dogs in their laps while on the carriage ride. Is St. Augustine dog friendly? This photo proves it for sure.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
The last stop of our day was to walk around the outside of the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument with our dog. Pets are not allowed inside the fort but they are allowed in the exterior areas of the park. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest and largest masonry fort in the continental U.S. The fort was completed in 1695. The fort changed hands and names over the years but the original name was restored in 1942 to Castillo de San Marcos. The fort was attacked several times and besieged twice. The fort is made of coquina – a soft limestone made of shells. The ownership of the fort was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933 and has been a popular tourist destination since then.
For the ghost tour fans out there – the fort might be haunted. It was featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Hunters TV show. The ghost stories include love triangles, soldiers and when the fort was used a military prison. Cost to enter the fort: Adults $7 and children are free. The outside of the fort is free.
Day 3 Itinerary:
St. Augustine Lighthouse
We ate breakfast on the last day of our vacation and then checked out of our Bed & Breakfast. We drove to the St. Augustine Lighthouse with our dog. The site includes the lighthouse, a gift shop, a light house keepers’ house, nature trails, a shipyard play area and wooden boatbuilding. Well behaved leashed dogs are allowed on the grounds but not inside the lighthouse or buildings. We took turns holding the dog so we each could climb to the top of the lighthouse. Children must be 44 inches tall to climb the tower.
For the ghost story fans out there- the Lighthouse might be haunted. This lighthouse was featured on episodes of the Syfy TV show Ghost Hunters and the program My Ghost Story. The ghost stories include a disembodied female voice asking for help and a hand seen on the top of the staircase. There is also the true story of the foreman’s children drowning in the supply cart on the tracks in 1873. A light keeper also died in 1859 when he fell from the scaffolding while painting the lighthouse. I have been on the Dark Side of the Moon ghost tour you can do here at night. It was creepy to go into the lighthouse and buildings alone at night.
Cost: Adults $12.95 each, seniors age 60 and above $10.95 and kids (age 12 and under and 44” taller) $10.95. Children under 44 inches are free.
We couldn’t leave St. Augustine without stopping for some of my favorite chocolates at Whetstone Chocolates. It was not dog friendly but one of us stayed in the car with the dog while one of us went into the store. I got a couple of the datil pepper truffles dark chocolate since datil pepper is the official pepper of St. Augustine. The datil pepper truffle was sweet and spicy. I also got two boxes of the assorted shells coastal collection that contains milk chocolate Valencia Orange, Key Lime, Toffee Crunch and Mint Crunch shells. I got a box of gummy sharks for my son too. We ate the treats on the drive home.
Other dog friendly Bed & Breakfasts in St. Augustine:
- St. Francis Inn: The St Francis Inn accepts small well-mannered pets on a limited basis in certain rooms/suites by advance reservations only under the following conditions: When reservation is made, guest must disclose their pet will also be visiting. At check-in, guests with a pet are required to sign our “Guest Pet Responsibility” agreement, which guarantees and authorizes credit card payment for any damage caused by their pet. We charge a nightly pet fee of $20. This fee helps to cover the additional time and effort needed to clean the guest accommodation after a pet visit. A small pet is a cat or dog which is easily held/carried by the guest with a maximum of 45 lbs.
- Casa de Solana: The pet friendly room is the Kirby Smith room. This room is on the ground level providing easy access for your pet. There is a small park ¼ of a block south on Aviles Street from the inn. The pet fee is $60 for up to 2 nights stay and $100 for 3 or more nights stay. One pet per room allowed. They request that you provide notice if there will be a pet in your room before your arrival date.
- Bayfront Marin House: The dog food and water bowls are available, as are pet treats, loaner leashes and puppy popsicles during the summer months. Pets are welcome in any of their first floor rooms as well as in the Oceanview Cottage, with a daily tariff of $35 per dog. Some restrictions apply; please see the complete pet policies. The dogs must be less than 72 pounds and there is a two dog limit.
- St Augustine Beach House: Dogs are welcome for a fee of $35 for the first dog and $25 for the second. A maximum of two dogs per room are permitted.
Other dog friendly attractions in St. Augustine:
- Bone Appetit – A Pet-Friendly Food Tour: Well behaved leashed pets are welcome on this walking tour as explore St. Augustine with a guide.
- Colonial Quarter: This all outside attraction highlights the history of St. Augustine. It has a 35 foot watch tower, colonial buildings, shops and dining. Leashed dogs are welcomed.
- St Augustine Scenic Cruise: Well behaved leashed pets are always welcome. The cruises depart daily from the Municipal Marina in downtown St. Augustine. The one hour and 15 minute cruise has views of historical landmarks and sights.
- A Ghostly Encounter Well behaved leashed dogs are welcome to enjoy the spooky fun. Cost: $13 per person for tickets purchased online. $15 per person for tickets purchased at the door.
- Spanish Military Hospital Museum Well behaved leashed dogs are welcomed at this historical pet-friendly attraction. Cost: $10.50 adults, senior $9 and kids ages 5-12 $5.50, children under 5 years old free.
- St. Augustine Eco Tours The company offers boating, sailing and kayaking outings. Friendly and well-behaved dogs are welcomed on kayak and sailing outings.
- Country Carriage Rides: The horse and carriage rides are pet friendly.
- Vilano Beach Leashed dogs are welcomed. Cost: $5.00 (If you want to park on the beach—free if you want to park further down the beach on an access road)
Dog friendly restaurants:
There are so many courtyards in St. Augustine and lots of restaurants with outdoor patio seating. Here is a list of some of the dog friendly restaurants:
- The Floridian
- Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille
- Catch 27
- Barley Republic Public House
- Casa Maya
- Meehan’s Irish Pub
- Beachcomber Restaurant
- The Prince of Wales
- Hurricane Patty’s Restaurant and Bar
- Moon & Sun Café
- Thai House and Sushi Bar
- Taberna del Caballo
- 180 Vilano Pizza and Grill
- Café Eleven
- Schmagel’s Bagels
- Kingfish Grill
About the Author/Photographer:
Melody Larson has lived in Orlando for 21 years and is a UCF alumna. Her adventures have included bunny yoga, bungee jumping, parasailing, flying a plane, horseback riding on the beach and holding an alligator. Find her @orlandoadventuring on Instagram and www.orlandoadventuring.com. All images courtesy Melody Larson unless otherwise noted.