STA Nights of Lights: Tips from an Almost Local

One of the most celebrated holiday events in the Sunshine State is St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights. The annual event runs from Mid-November through the end of January and has become a holiday tradition for me over the past 5 years that I have spent Christmas in the Oldest City. If you have been following me closely, you know my ties to STA make me an almost local. I’m here to bring you the best travel tips for Nights of Lights.

Getting Around Town

The Plaza de Constitucíon is the epicenter of the event, and the ideal spot for starting your self-guided walking tour of the sparkling Ancient City. There are a variety of tour options ranging from sailboats to golf carts. However, if you have kids or a group of adults that want to get a little boozy (or both, I don’t judge) I highly recommend Old Town Trolley’s Nights of Lights Tour. The hop-on-hop-off holiday tour hooks you up with free parking at Stop #1, blasts gleeful Christmas Carols and provides sweet spectacles to wear to enhance the Christmas magic.

This year, as a health precaution, tickets are being sold by row to accommodate up to 4 guests. Children ages 3 and under may sit in the lap of their adult companions. Facial coverings are strongly recommended, however are not mandatory, since there is appropriate social distance and plenty of fresh air flowing through the trolley. Reservations must be made in advance and the price is $59.95 per row.

For an offbeat tour offshore, you can turn to Old Town Cycle Cruise. This pedal-powered pontoon steers you along the Mantazas River so you can gasp at the glimmer of Nights of Lights by water. There are 12 cycle stations aboard their vessel, which can accommodate a total of 26 passengers. The 90-minute tour is BYOB and priced at $40/person.

Christmas Spirits

If you want to sing the gin-gle bell rock, do not miss the Miracle Bar at Forgotten Tonic. Miracle is global holiday pop-up bar serving up cocktails inspired by the season. Many local bars also created their own Christmas cocktail menu, including Boat Drinks and The Chatsworth Pub. The Tini Martini Bar at the Casablanca Inn is one of the most decorated spots in town and offers a great view of the horse carriages along the waterfront.

Nights of Pints is a delightful charity event for beer lovers during the season. For $30, you receive a commemorative t-shirt, Pint Passport and a Pint Glass. While the lights are beaming every night, participants get a free pint at the four local breweries in town. This event not only supports the local beer scene but also benefits local dog rescue, Swamp Haven.

Christmas Shopping Spots

For the ultimate shopping stop for Christmas outside of the North Pole, check out the Perky Pelican Christmas Shoppe in the Uptown shopping district. Nearby, Declaration & Co. offers locally designed holiday apparel, stationary and gifts.  As you gaze at shimmering Lightner Museum, swing through the Artsy Abode at the Casa Monica Hotel next door to get a special edition Alex + Ani STA Nights of Lights bracelet.

Yuletide Shoutout!

This post should have come to you sooner, since I am loaded with information and tips on Nights of Lights. When I went to post it a month ago, I realized I have zero pictures of the event! I am usually with family, whom are a delightful distraction from taking pics for The Gram. Which speaks volumes to how fun Christmas in St. Augustine can be!

Luckily, I found fellow FLOmad, Amanda Conkel to score some snaps for me when she visited last weekend. Be sure to give @thewanderingconk some love on Instagram and check out Conk’s blog for another sunny Floridian’s perspective.