Sweet summertime is in full swing. In Florida, that means getting your butt to the beach because it’s too dang hot to be anywhere else. As a good friend of mine says, “Saltwater cures everything!” The beach is the perfect cure for the “We’re Bored!” blues, a tight budget and it wears out even the most rambunctious of kiddos. Let’s talk about the best beach spots in town to get sand between your toes and watch your little ones splash away the day.
Mary Street Ramp – Crescent Beach
This is my go-to for a family fun beach spot. You can find me camped out here most weekends. The Mary Street Ramp is just a little south of St. Augustine Beach and is typically not as crowded as the A Street area. I love that this part of the beach is usually full of families, which means plenty of kids to entertain my littlest one who is always looking for a new friend. When the tide is changing, you can find a tide pool perfect for finding little sea treasures and containing younger children. You can drive on the beach at this spot or there is a parking area. Only a port-a-potty at this locale, but right next to this ramp, just south, is the Frank B. Butler County Park aka Butler Beach. This area has parking, restrooms, outside shower, and a boardwalk over the dunes. These two spots are adjacent, so you can easily check out both. The parking areas can fill up quickly on busy summer weekends.
Matanzas Inlet – Fort Matanzas National Monument Beach
This is my favorite evening beach experience. Just south of Fort Matanzas on the right, before you cross the bridge over the inlet, is the parking area. Low tide or close to it is the best time to visit this spot. I pack a big picnic dinner, fishing poles, rafts, and my favorite beach chair to sit and watch the kids play and the sunset. The shallow water and no waves on the intercoastal waterway make it great for kids and there is usually a fun sandbar for exploring and adventures. You can walk around the end of the inlet for great fishing under the bridge. There is also a parking area on the left side of A1A with a boardwalk over the dunes leading to a quiet beach. It is a long walk for little legs and keep an eye out for bunnies and turtles along the way. No bathrooms close by at these locations.
Pier and Splash Park
I do love this area, but I prefer it more in the off-season when parking is easier and the crowds are lighter. If you are trying to tackle it on a weekend, get there early for a parking spot and to beat the crowd. The splash area and playground are very entertaining for younger children. Access to the beach is just steps away and outdoor showers and bathrooms are close by too. Great for family pictures under the pier and the pier provides some shade from the heat of the day. You are a short walk to restaurants and from one of my favorite Summer Day Treat spots – Rita’s Italian Ice. It’s a great way to bribe your kiddos out of the Splash Park and to cool off before heading home.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is a well-hidden treasure with tons of amenities and a gorgeous beach free of vehicles. The campgrounds are well kept and the whole park feels like your own little beachside oasis. You can drive in for the day for a small fee and there is a big parking lot with a boardwalk to the beach. Make it a day and rent canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards to explore the park on peaceful Salt Run. I think this park/beach is perfect for bigger kids to explore and find new things to do. Biking and hiking through the park are great options for working up a sweat before cooling off in the waves.
Guana River State Park
So much to discover in this pristine nature preserve. Guana River State Park offers one of my favorite natural beach spots great for shell, shark tooth, and sea glass hunting. The park itself offers some amazing hikes and kayak touring as well as the Environment Education Center where kids can learn and explore. The cost for these amenities is reasonable and bring cash to make it easier to pay. This is a great park/beach for kids age 5 and up.
I consider the beach my second home where memories are made, souls are searched and kids run free. St. Augustine is home to miles of amazing beaches perfect for discovering new spots for your family to enjoy time together.