When visiting St. Augustine, America's Oldest City, it is only fitting to stay at the city's oldest inn, the St. Francis Inn. The St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, is located right in the heart of the historic district, and a short quarter-mile walk from the historic waterfront. The inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and a Select Registry member property.
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A stay at the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine will make any visit to this historic city memorable. Located on St. George Street, it's an easy walk to almost everything. The St. Francis Inn features a selection of accommodations and price points.
When to Visit St. Augustine
The best times to visit St. Augustine is March to May and September to November. One rule of thumb to remember when planning any trip to Florida is our hurricane season. Hurricane season is technically May 22 to November 30, however, the most active months are generally August and September. Check the tropical forecast prior to leaving, to ensure you will not be arriving during a potential hurricane event.
Why Choose The St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine
St. Augustine has a plethora of great lodging choices! But the St. Francis Inn, along with a handful of other properties, creates an elevated casual luxury experience. The Inn is located on St. George Street, one of the main thoroughfares in St. Augustine. Showcasing the St. Francis Inn are their charming gardens bursting with native plants and flowers and a lovely courtyard, a picture-perfect place to savor your morning coffee.
The St. Francis Inn's Amenities
The amenities at the St. Francis Inn are extensive and designed to pamper guests for a perfect luxury experience in St. Augustine. Pick up a specialty coffee from the complimentary Speciality coffee bar (7:30 am – 12:00 pm) and head out to the courtyard for a nature fix as you sip your coffee. Lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos are hand-crafted to order. My personal favorite is the Chocolate Bianco latte, or in the fall, nothing is better than their Pumpkin Spice latte!
Indulge in a hot, homemade breakfast. The choices vary from day to day, but there are always two hot choices, fruit, and fresh breads. Breakfast is offered daily 7:30 – 9:30 am and weekends 7:30 – 10:30 am. Need to stay hydrated or caffeinated throughout the day? No problem! You'll find coffee, teas, hot chocolate, sodas, and bottled water available all day.
Exploring St. Augustine Is Easy At The St. Francis
Your visit to St. Augustine does not need to have a full agenda. Sometimes Jim and I sneak off to destinations just to relax and explore at our pace. St. Augustine and the St. Francis Inn are perfect for that! Pack your favorite read, sun essentials, and head down to the heated pool for a few relaxing hours. The pool maintains a perfect temperature of about 85°. Stop by the front desk and pick up aqua exercise equipment for a fantastic water workout.
If you would rather have a traditional workout session, Anastasia Fitness Club and the St. Francis Inn offer complimentary access. See the innkeeper for your pass and directions.
If the beach is your thing, stop by the front desk and make arrangements for beach towels and chairs. You'll also receive information on off-street parking and showers. Check out all the details for a perfect afternoon at the beach here.
The Inn also has complimentary bikes that are available to guests of the inn, a great way to explore St. Augustine and get some exercise.
Parking is at a premium in St. Augustine, and the St. Francis Inn has your back. The Inn provides complimentary guest parking across St. George street. For electric car owners, there are two Tesla/electric car charging stations along with designated parking spaces in the lot of the Inn.
You'll find one of my favorite amenities at the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine – plush terry cloth robes! I love being able to step right out of the shower or bath and wrap myself in a plush robe.
Entering your room you'll find fresh flowers and a decanter of sherry and snifters – perfect for a nightcap for two. Complimentary wi-fi is also available throughout the property so you'll never be offline.
Perks That Make The St. Francis Stand Out
The features that set the St. Francis apart from many of the other lodging choices in the historic city are their complimentary Make-Your-Own-S'mores. Meet out at the firepit between 7-9 pm and salivate over the ageless treat of gooey toasted marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.
Giving a nod to a bygone era, the St. Francis Inn hosts a nightly complimentary Social Hour. This is an opportunity to meet other guests, sip some local wine from the San Sebastian Winery, or a local beer, and enjoy a selection of light snacks before you head to dinner at one of St. Augustine's delightful restaurants.
Showcasing sweet and decadent desserts each evening is a hallmark of the St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine. I can attest to the decadence of these amazing culinary delights, and assure you that you will not want to miss the evening desserts! The desserts will be different each evening, but there is all manner of things sweet, from layer cakes to fresh pies to bars and brownies, each homemade by the culinary team of the St. Francis.
Get a jump start on exploring America's Oldest City with complimentary admission to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. You'll also receive a discount on any purchases made in the gift shops – who doesn't love a discount?
Visit the Oldest House Museum, right down the street from the St. Francis Inn, and save 50% off your admission.
The St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine
St. Augustine has strict requirements for buildings located in the historic district, which the St. Francis Inn's beautiful exterior has maintained. The gardens on the property are filled with flora and fauna native to Northeast Florida. When the humidity is high, it just dangles in the air like a damp, heavy jacket, and the heady fragrances from the gardens swirl in the air like the unmistakable fragrance of Chanel No. 5.
An arched black wrought iron gate begs you to open it as you walk up the brick path to the hotel. As you follow the path laid out before you, you are at the humble entrance to the inn. Walking through the door you see a stairway leading up and off to your right, with the reception desk tucked in neatly in the space under the stairs. To your left, you'll find a fireplace and mantel.
Straight ahead of you see a parlor, and just on the right side of the door, you'll find a beverage station. The parlor has a couch and several chairs, a perfect respite to sit, rest, and chat. The dining room is off to the right, and down at the end of the hallway. Each room at the St. Francis Inn is unique and different, but one thing is consistent, and that is the little touches, like the flowers and the sherry.
Beyond The St. Francis Inn
The Inn also encompasses the Wilson House and the 1894 House. The Wilson House is across the street, and the 1894 House is just a short walk away. Between them, the inn offers a collection of 19 rooms. No matter where you stay – the Wilson House, the main inn, or the 1894 House you have the use of all amenities, and you'll check-in at the St. Francis Inn.
The beds are tall and quite comfortable, and many of the rooms house either antiques or reproductions. You honestly feel as if you are staying in an inn from centuries ago, albeit with modern, luxury touches. The linens are a good thread count, and cool to the touch, a necessary thing for a woman who is going through “the change.”
Is the Inn Haunted?
This is a question that the innkeepers receive quite often, and I cannot personally say yes or no because we have not experienced anything out of the ordinary when we've stayed at the inn. However, friends of mine have experienced some odd things consistent with being haunted. For more information, take a peek at what some experts have said, and draw your own conclusions.
Exploring St. Augustine
Using the St. Francis Inn as your base, get out and explore America's Oldest City, St. Augustine! From forts to food, from lighthouses to museums, and everything in between, there is so much to see! The historic city is very walkable and gives you ample opportunity to stop and window shop.
The history of St. Augustine spans 450 years, and covers the Spanish heritage of the city, the Gilded Age, and Henry Flagler, up to modern-day. Let's take a whirlwind tour of St. Augustine!
Castillo de San Marcos
St. Augustine was founded as a Spanish Military presidio and settlement in 1565, and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the linchpin. The Castillo is the United States' oldest masonry fort and the only standing 17th-century military fortification. It's constructed of coquina, a limestone created using broken shells. The fort rests on 20.5 acres and is a national park.
Fort Matanzas guarded the southern river approach to St. Augustine. The Spanish realized that the Matanzas Inlet was a vulnerable location, and to protect the inlet built a wooden watchtower and thatched hut to house soldiers. The soldiers kept watch by scanning the horizon and then deploying a small boat or a runner to warn St. Augustine. Visitors to the fort will learn the importance Fort Matanzas played in deterring attacks on St. Augustine.
Villa Zorayda Museum
Built as the winter residence of Franklin Webster Smith in 1883, the home is a prime example of the Gilded Age. In a nod to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, the home incorporated architectural details from the Alhambra, and set off the Moorish Spanish Revival architectural style scattered through St. Augustine.
Following the death of Franklin Webster Smith, the home was sold to Abraham Mussallem in 1913. Mussallem, authority on oriental rugs and artifacts from Egypt, immigrated to the United States from Lebanon. After the purchase of the Zorayda Club, Mussallem and his wife Olga opened the club as a speakeasy and gambling casino, which closed in the late 1920s. In 1933, the Mussallems opened the building again, this time as the Villa Zorayda Museum.
Today, guests can tour Villa Zorayda, and learn the historical significance of the building to the City of St. Augustine. You'll see the priceless collections of both Franklin Smith and the Mussalems. One of the most spectacular pieces of the collection on display is the “Sacred Cat Rug.” This piece is crafted from the hairs of the ancient cats that roamed the Nile River, and is over 2,400 years old.
The Lightner Museum
Once the former Alcazar Hotel, built by railroad tycoon Henry in 1888, the Alcazar Hotel was the second opulent Gilded Age hotel that Flagler constructed in St. Augustine. Flagler's vision was to transform St. Augustine into one of the most sought after winter resorts for wealthy East Coasters looking to escape the harsh weather up north.
During the 1890s, over 25,000 guests visited the Alcazar. Flagler pulled out all the stops in designing his second hotel in St. Augustine. The indoor swimming pool was the largest in the world at the time. Flagler also had sulfur baths, a steam room, massage parlor, gymnasium, bowling alleys, archery ranges, tennis courts and more. If guests desired it, surely the Alcazar would offer it!
In 1947 Otto C. Lightner purchased the building to display his collection of art, and the Lightner opened two years later. Today the Lightner houses the extensive art collection of Otto Lightner, and special exhibits during the year.
The Pirate Museum
The Pirate Museum is one of my favorite places in St. Augustine! I love that this museum is perfect for the entire family. Guests are transported to Port Royal, Jamaica, 300 years ago. This is the height of the Golden Age of Piracy. You'll be taken aboard a pirate ship that sways and creaks, just as if it were sailing on the ocean. You'll meet some of the famous pirates and their crew from this bygone age – like Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles.
Over the last 24 months the St. Augustine culinary scene has literally exploded! There are so many choices, that I can really only highlight a few of our favorites.
Forgotten Tonic is absolutely one of our top favorites when visiting St. Augustine! The food is fresh, tasty, well prepared and presented. The wait staff is knowledgeable and helpful, and the wine and cocktail list extensive.
The Raintree is one of our go to restaurants when we are celebrating a special occasion. The atmosphere is upscale casual, the food is delightful and well presented. Highly recommend it!
Boat Drinks is just a fun, casual, laid back bar with some darn good cocktails! Think nautical, tropical, and fun! The food is Caribbean island inspired, and is fantastic! This is the place to come for a fun, laughter filled time where you can kick back with a cocktail or two, and have some food to accompany.
I am an oenophile, or wine lover, so the Tasting Tours is one of my top choices for a food tour in St. Augustine. They offer several choices for tours, which give you a great overview of St. Augustine, a chance to experience the food at a choice of restaurants, accompanied by some fabulous wine tastings. The tasting tours are a fantastic foodie experience!
St. Augustine is a magical destination that will call you to visit again and again. It has all the right ingredients for a fabulous Florida vacation or getaway – history, fun, food, outdoor adventures, and beaches. I can't wait to visit again soon!
The St. Francis Inn and Florida's Historic Coast hosted our stay. All opinions are our own.