St. Augustine Museums You Have to Visit
St. Augustine is a place very much steeped in history. In fact, it’s recognized as “America’s Oldest City,” having first been established in 1565 and inhabited continually ever since. So as you can well imagine, a city with that deep of a heritage has more than its fair share of history on display.
So if you’re looking for a fun and educational day out learning all about the city’s past, then you owe it to yourself to check out some of these world-class St. Augustine museums.
America’s oldest city is home to many “firsts,” and Potter’s is one of the most interesting. Housed in a building that was once the first established pharmacy in the entire country, Potter’s soon became America’s first-established wax museum. The collection houses more than 150 detailed wax figures depicting historical icons, movie stars, and political figures.
The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is the perfect destination for would-be buccaneers of all ages. St. Augustine’s history as a trading port of sometimes not-so-honorably-obtained goods is examined through a multitude of interactive exhibits. Visitors will be transported back in time to the age when swashbuckling salty dogs ruled the high seas. Hoist the Jolly Roger, check out real pirate gold, learn about buried treasure, and even cross (safe!) swords on a ship’s deck replica. Ahoy!
Also known as the Gonázlez-Alvarez house, The Oldest House was built around 1723, making it 53 years older than the United States itself. This Spanish Colonial-style structure was a private residence until 1918, when it was acquired by the St. Augustine Historical Society. Designated in 1970 as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, the home now offers tours to the public. Inside, guests will find a treasure trove of period furnishings, art, and other items cataloguing some of the earliest days of our nation’s history.
Have a taste for the macabre? Then don’t miss this collection intended to remind us of — as the museum puts it — “some of the most miserable moments in human history.” Taking an academic view of some of humanity’s darkest periods, the 4,000-square-foot museum’s displays encompass several hundred pieces — all implements of torment devised by some of the most twisted, demented minds in antiquity to inflict suffering on their fellow humans. Take a walk through these anguished exhibits and feel the relief of living in a more enlightened time.
The Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum has occupied a revered place in the heart of historic downtown St. Augustine since 1598. Also traditionally known as “The Government House,” the building has served in several capacities — largely as a government office — during its lengthy and storied life. Today the structure houses museum exhibits, available event space, and some University of Florida academic facilities.
Built inside a structure that once served as the Alcazar Hotel, the Lightner Museum offers a multi-faceted trip back in time that explores several aspects of Florida’s rich history. An artistic architectural masterpiece in and of itself, the museum’s exhibit halls house an eclectic mix of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glasswork, and artifacts within its permanent collection. It has also played host to exceptional traveling exhibits and natural anthropological curiosities.