by Stephen Jermanok
The St. Augustine Beach House offers the best of both worlds. Spend your day in the hustle-and-bustle of old St. Augustine, visiting family-friendly sites, such as Castillo de San Marcos, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum (the first of its kind) and the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. Afterward, simply cross the causeway and less than two minutes later, you’ll be in charming Vilano Beach. Once a summer retreat for the affluent of St. Augustine, Vilano Beach is a quaint beach town with boutique shops, fun restaurants, and beach cottages that attract families.
A mere three stories tall, St. Augustine Beach House has the same appeal as a beach cottage. Rooms have full kitchens, sleeper sofas for the kids and balconies with wonderful views of the beach, especially if you request a room on a higher floor. Simply walk outside and you’ll be on the long stretch of beach, watching surfers catch waves. Parking and Wi-Fi access are free, and an excellent bonus is complimentary breakfast, which features made-to-order waffles, eggs, bacon, cereal, yogurt, fresh-baked muffins, and even an egg soufflÃ©. You can dine in the breakfast room or take it back to your room’s patio to enjoy — everything is laid back at the St. Augustine Beach House.
Our Editor Loves
- Beachfront location
- Fully equipped kitchens
- Complimentary breakfast
- Water Sports
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
All rooms have great vistas of the beach, especially from your private balcony or patio. The best view is from the corner room on the third floor, Room 306, where you can eye the coastline all the way north to Jacksonville. Rooms are equipped with one king-size bed, a pull-out sofa, flat-screen TV with HBO, a dining table with chairs and a kitchen with a toaster oven, microwave, coffee maker, coffee, refrigerator, dishes, and silverware. The bathroom houses both a shower and bathtub, and features Musk bath products. There's ample closet and dresser space, along with air conditioning.
Families with young children usually book one room and use the sleeper sofa as the second bed. Families with older kids book two adjacent rooms. All rooms have the same configuration, and the overall ambience is retro beach appeal, with walls painted peach and decorated with prints of the ocean and sea birds. Pets are welcome, as well, for a one-time fee of $20.
There are no cribs or rollaway beds, but the lodging does offer Pack n' Plays. DVD players are also available upon request. An added bonus: don't be surprised if you find Ghirardelli chocolates suddenly appear in your room.
We booked this property because it appeared to check all of the boxes of a quiet, romantic retreat. We celebrated our 22 year anniversary on the property, and the room did not disappoint. The room was well appointed, and the view was fantastic. The balcony was perfect for two. The staff was lovely; they helped me in making it special by decorating the room with a lovely homemade cupcake, with an anniversary note. Check-in was "on-time," so no early check in. The grocery store was a mere 5 minute walk, and has essentially everything you'll ever need. The beach atmosphere was very relaxed, very laid back. Breakfast was great...the service was perfect. Overall, a five-star experience. We'll be back soon.
Loved our stay for our anniversary. A cupcake was in our room for our special day. Free home cooked breakfast and afternoon snack. Easy walk to Publix and located on the beach. All rooms have a beach view. Definitely would stay again.
The beach is only a minute-long walk from your room. Be sure to bring a complimentary beach chair or towel, found in racks across from the hotel lobby. Don't expect silky sands on Vilano Beach -- the beach does contain shells. Waves attract surfers in the spring and fall months. In the summer, the ocean is gentler and many families congregate on the beach to enjoy a dip.
To explore outside of the hotel, Old Town Trolley will pick you up from Vilano Beach and take you to the area's top sites. This way, you can avoid congested roadways and packed parking lots in town. One of St. Augustine's newest attractions, the Colonial Quarter, is an enticing journey through three centuries of the city's rich history, including interactive exhibits and walking up to the top of a 35-foot watchtower to see the fort across the road.
At the nearby St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, view artifacts like silver coins, an iron musket, and musket balls from a 17-century wreck off the coast. Ripley's Believe It or Not still packs families in with its intriguing displays on torture techniques, 1930s footage of the world's tallest man and sculptures of the Eiffel Tower created from toothpicks. And while caretakers no longer wrestle alligators on the grounds of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, you can still see hundreds of gators, sea birds, and try a new zip line, too.
The complimentary continental breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. behind the lobby. Eat inside or out and expect eggs, bacon, grits, homemade muffins, bagels, cereal, yogurt and waffles. Just down the road is a large Publix supermarket to stock up on provisions for your stay. They also have a large pharmacy if need be. Also close by is 180 Vilano Grill, a good Italian restaurant for pizzas and pastas.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The ladies working the front desk are an excellent resource for finding good restaurants in town. They'll also let you use their laundry facility after 3 p.m. for no additional charge. The hotel doesn't provide a fitness center, but who needs one when you can jog the beach and breathe in the fresh salty air?
The Art of Smart Timing
St. Augustine is popular year-round for families, but the best beach days are March through October, assuming no hurricane is barreling down the coast come summer. From late-November to late-January, enjoy St. Augustine's Nights of Lights, where millions of tiny white lights create a magical atmosphere in the country's oldest city.
For Mom and Dad
On a quiet street in the historic quarter stands The Tasting Room. A local favorite, sit indoors or out, and get ready to dig into innovative Spanish tapas. Start with the marinated olives and marcona almonds, then sample tasty entrees like blackened grouper or grilled flank steak, all washed down with a good Spanish Rioja.