It’s been a while since I posted one of our National Park adventures. We traveled out west a few years back and visited 9, but recently we’ve been trying to hit the parks closer to home. A few weeks ago we headed down to St. Augustine to visit Castillo de San Marcos. After living in Jacksonville for 15 years I figured it was time to visit this local landmark.
Destination: Castillo de San Marcos
Date of Visit: March 2017
Kids: Cole (age 10) & Kiley (age 7)
Length of Stay: 1 Half Day
We headed down to Castillo de San Marcos early one weekend to explore the fort. I have lived in Jacksonville for the last 15 years and I’ve never been there. We arrived around 10am and all the parking spaces right by the monument were taken. If we had been just a few minutes earlier I think we could have snagged one, but oh well. My husband dropped us and circled back to the large parking garage that sits just a few blocks away.
Entrance will cost you $10 per adult, children under 15 are free. Since Cole is in 4th grade this year, he has an Every Kid in a Park pass and we were able to get in for free. That’s right, all 4th graders in the US can get a park pass for their family for FREE.
Once inside, our first stop was to pick up some Junior Ranger books. The kids hadn’t earned any Junior Ranger pins since our trip out west, so they were anxious to add to their collection. Castillo de San Marcos offers a Junior Ranger program, and also Master Junior Ranger patch. My little overachievers wanted to complete both.
One of the highlights of our visit was the live historical demonstration of the cannon. A few times a day there is a reenactment of a cannon loading and firing. The kids loved this part. The cannon blast is loud, but the ranger will warn you when to cover your ears.
After the reenactment we spent some more time exploring the fort. There really was a lot to see and learn about.
Before heading out the kids turned in their books and were sworn in as official Junior Rangers. One of the things I love at Castillo de San Marcos is that there is a large grassy area where you can eat lunch or you’re close enough to downtown St. Augustine that you can simply walk around and find a good restaurant.
Highlights: The cannon reenactment and firing were by far the highlight of the day. Make sure to ask a ranger when the next one will be as soon as you arrive.
What We Would Change: I wish would have planned to spend just a little more time at the fort. We should have packed a lunch and eaten quickly so we could have explored a little more. I would say it’s easy to spend a full 1/2 day there if your kids are interested in seeing all the exhibits.