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I love beaches. It’s no secret. They are the one thing I really want to see more of. Well, and the springs. But this is about beaches. During both of my trips to St. Augustine, I went to Anastasia State Park and both were entirely different experiences.
The first visit was back in November of 2016 and it was nice, sunny, and hot. We walked along the beach for a bit, sat in the sun, and did a little shelling before heading back into town. Thee second visit was in January 2019 and it was absolutely freezing. My parents were visiting and we were all bundled up like we were back in Wisconsin. That’s how cold it was, mostly thanks to wind.
Between visiting Castillo de San Marcos, the lighthouse, walking around the old street, and doing a ghost tour, we decided to head out to the beach. We knew it would be cold, but went anyways. I can’t resist some shelling and neither can my parents so it was perfect. Even though they aren’t the best shells in Florida, we did get some cute little ones.
This was the first stop on our little Florida road trip and we all loved it. We even caught St. Augustin with all of the Christmas lights up which I loved! I had been wanted to see it lit up for the holidays and even though it was after, it was still fun to see.
This is such a great little state park with a really nice beach. The first time it was a little seeaweedy, but the second time it was perfect, so that probably depends on weather and time of year. If you want a place to relax in the sun near St. Augustine away from lots of people, this is a great option. Summer is probably busier because it’s so hot, but winter is a really great time to visit and have a lot of it to yourself.
Where is Anastasia State Park in Florida?
Just a six-minute drive from Castillo de San Marcos, onto Anastasia Island. It’s super close to St. Augustine and a great beach to visit that isn’t far from town. It’s good to visit before or after the St. Augustine Lighthouse, it is only four minutes away and is also on Anastasia Island. You can actually see the lighthouse from the park!
How much is Anastasia State Park in Florida?
How long do I need for Anastasia State Park in Florida?
If you just want to walk along the beach, a couple of hours should be good. It’s a great beach to read on with a book or just in the sun, too. It’s a huge beach with plenty of space, which is even better.
When is Anastasia State Park in Florida open?
8AM to sundown, 365 days a year.
When is the best time to visit Anastasia State Park in Florida?
Whenever! Summer will, obviously, be hotter. It will also probably be more humid and there is always the chance of hurricanes, but you’ll know when those are coming. Winter is really nice (when I went both times) but the weather can be hit or miss. The first time was sunny and hot, the second I had my scarf, hat, gloves, and winter jacket on, so your mileage may vary then.
Shelling in Anastasia State Park
You know I love shelling and while it may not be as good here as Cape San Blas, Lovers Key, or Tigertail Beach, it’s still fun to peruse the sand for some shells. You can find clam, scallop, oyster, and olive shells. You probably won’t find anything big here, so don’t be too let down if everything you find is small. The best time to go is at low tide when. And make sure if you pick up anything living to put it back.
Other things to do in Anastasia State Park in Florida
There is a designated swimming area with a lifeguard from Memorial Day to Labor Day for those of you that want to cool off. This is probably a better summer activity with warmer water and weather. Just make sure you pay attention to any notices about strong currents. It’s best to admire the water from the beach in the winter.
Four miles of break offer some of the better surfing on the east coast of Florida while allowing surfers to spread out. While a wetsuit isn’t necessary in summer, it is in winter and possibly even summer and fall. Equipment can also be rented in the park. Make sure to follow any postings about rip tides and dangerous currents before entering the water.
There is four miles of beach you can bike as well as park roads (some with bike paths.) You can bring your own bike or rent them inside the park. If you’re visiting a bunch of Florida state parks on a road trip and have a way to bring your own bikes, that would be a good idea. Their parks are great for biking.
Florida is great for Geocaching, especially in the state parks. Download the app and start looking!
The park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail meaning it’s one of the best places to go birding in Florida! You can see shorebirds on the beach, songbirds in the hammock forest, and water birds in the salt marsh. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
Sailing, paddling, kayaking, and canoeing can be done in Salt Run, the estuarial salt marsh in the park. Make sure you obey any signs to keep from infringing on habitats if you’re sailing. Paddleboard and kayak rentals can be done in the park.
You can fish at Salt Run or the waters at the north end of the park. Both are pretty popular. At Salt Run there is a fish identification kiosk and a fish cleaning station. You may need a fishing license.
What to bring to Anastasia State Park in Florida
For day use
Mesh shell bag – We just used grocery bags we got on the trip, but this would be soooo much more convenient. This will help loose sand fall out and you could even dip the whole thing in the ocean if necessary for a little rinse. We rinsed them all off with the hose anyways because they collect so much sand in them. Buy the mesh shell bag here.
Sleeping pad – Gotta make the tent comfy! The one I have isn’t available anymore but this one is similar. It’s self-inflating and just needs a little help filling all the way. Buy the sleeping pad here.
Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow. This is a good non-inflatible option. Here is a good inflatable option.
Lantern – I love having a lantern for in the tent at night, reading in the dark, or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The LuminAID is my favorite and you can charge your phone on it. Buy the LuminAID lantern here.
Camping at Anastasia State Park in Florida
Camping at Anastasia State Park is $28 a night, plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee. It has 139 campsites with water and electric hookups. The campsites are close to the beach (within walking distance) but in the hammock forest.
Where to stay in St. Augustine
There are tons of places to stay in St. Augustine whether its a hotel for one night or an Airbnb for five, you’ll be able to find something perfect for you.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn closer to the Historic Distric (not on Vilano Beach) but I would love to stay at some of the cute little inns, too. The Cozy Inn and Villa 1565 are the top of that list. I love bed and breakfast type places and more modern places, total opposites of each other, but I love both.
This is the kind of place I’d love to stay at an Airbnb when I visited. There are tons for all budgets over the city, but some super cute ones in particular are these three: Sand Dune Studio, Mermaid Cove Vilano Beach, and this bright studio near Castillo de San Marcos.
Have you been to Anastasia State Park? What did you think of it? Do you want to go? What is your favorite Florida State Park?