Whether or not you believe in ghosts before you arrive, you may leave haunted St Augustine as a believer. One of the most haunted cities in Florida, nearly every local we spoke with had St Augustine ghost stories to share.
Many were consistent, the same ghosts spotted in the same spots on multiple occasions. Too many for a coincidence. But some were different.
And don’t come preconceived as to what a ghost looks like. Only a fraction of hauntings manifests as full-body figures.
Some involve orbs, while others are translucent circles or vortex funnels. Whichever form the apparition takes, there is no shortage of haunted St Augustine stories.
The legends and stories even fascinate non-believers (like my scientist husband).
And that’s not all. St Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the United States. As a result, old-world charm and Spanish influence surround the hauntings.
Why is St Augustine haunted?
Some say it’s just time, any city this old would obviously have ghost stories to tell.
Others say it dates back to a boat arriving in 1821 that brought with it yellow fever, ultimately wiping out about one-third of the city’s population. Perhaps many of the casualties didn’t like being in the mass graves.
Regardless of what you believe, one of the best ways to enjoy this town is with a ghost tour. Of course, you can visit the town on your own, but for me, it was the ghost stories that really brought haunted St Augustine alive … or should I say paranormally aware.
Our ghost tour choice and recommendation is the Ghost and Graveyard Tour. There is more about it and other tours below.
Haunted places in St Augustine Florida
There are so many haunted St Augustine venues, street corners, and private residences, it would be hard to miss them all. Here are what we found to be the haunting highlights.
- City gate
- Castillo de San Marcos
- Potter’s Wax Museum
- Old Jail
- Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
- Huguenot Cemetery
- Tolomato Cemetery
- Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill
- Spanish Military Hospital Museum
Start at the city gate
Welcoming visitors to the city, or at one point keeping those unwanted out, the city gate stands at the end of St. George Street.
Sometimes Elizabeth, the gatekeeper’s daughter, smiles and waves to passers-by. Dressed in colonial-style clothing, her apparition appears so real, that people often ask shopkeepers about her.
She is one of the many who died of yellow fever in the 1820s.
Castillo de San Marcos
How could a 17th-century fort that has flown the flags of five different countries over time not be haunted?
Open for self-guided tours during the day, Castillo de San Marcos is a United States park service national monument. Inside, we can walk the rooms, climb to the parapets, or watch a live cannon demonstration with men dressed emulating the days of Spanish occupation. As such, they wore upwards of 30 pounds of clothing.
Castillo de San Marcos is so haunted that the Travel Channel did an episode here as part of their Ghost Adventures series. Watch it on YouTube.
We also returned and walked by after dark. A giant crack in the exterior wall of the fort looks really eerie when lit up at night, especially after hearing some of the ghost tales from inside Castillo de San Marcos.
Potter’s Wax Museum
Potter’s is the first wax museum in the United States.
Entry is through an old apothecary. In fact, the building is one of the most haunted places in St Augustine.
We visited Potter’s Wax museum as part of our Ghosts and Graveyard tour, but many of the wax displays were covered at night. If we had more time, I think this is one place we could go back and visit during the day.
Authentic Old Jail St Augustine
We also visited the old jail at night as part of our Ghosts and Graveyards tour.
We were guided by a very talented ‘former inmate.’ As a result, he shared personal stories that brought the place to life.
At one point, we were locked into a maximum-security area for a few moments while our guide slinked around the outer area, recounting creepy tales as he passed the individual cells. It was scary, but not too frightening for the kids in our group.
While we have visited jails in cities all around the world, there is something special about this one. An eeriness, possibly from the ghosts that lurk in the hallways.
Or, visit the Old Jail in the daytime
Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
A climb to the top of the lighthouse is rewarded with lovely views of St Augustine.
It was built in the 1870s and haunted right from its beginnings. If you stand quietly outside the lighthouse and listen, they say you can often hear the laughter of three girls who died there in 1873 when they were playing inside a construction railcar that broke away and fell into the sea.
And the girls are not the only apparitions. There is also the smoking man, whose smoke is reportedly smelled more often than he is seen.
Outside the city gates at the north end of St. George Street sits the Huguenot Cemetery.
Closed to new burials since 1884, it is the final resting place for many of those who succumbed to yellow fever. The mass graves hold up to 25 bodies. Only the name of the one on the top of the stack is listed on the stone.
We didn’t get a chance to visit here, but many who do report seeing footprints, hearing voices or even seeing full-body apparitions walking.
We stood outside the cemetery gates in the dark of night while our guide told one unusual story after the next.
The apparitions seen here are rarely noticed with the naked eye but are often found later in images shot without a flash.
As I combed through my first images, I found nothing out of the ordinary. Later I returned and shot the image just below. Those green lights were not visible when I took the shot, and there is nothing nearby to reflect them.
Could it be an apparition our guide described? Or is it just a reflection of city lights that I don’t see?
Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill
Catalina de Porras lived in a building that is now Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill until she was 10 years old, and the British had taken over the city, forcing her family to Cuba.
Later she returned, and today she walks the hallways, mostly on the second level.
The upstairs women’s bathroom is considered the most haunted space in the building. However, when I identified myself, I was denied permission to take an interior photo.
It left me wondering if the apparition is “enhanced” like the one in the Moss Beach Distillery in California
Spanish Military Hospital Museum
We didn’t visit here, but it has the haunting reputation of many old military hospitals. The guided tour witnesses surgeries and the creation of apothecary medicines, as well as discussing many of the herbs that were used and how they are still used today.
Take a St Augustine ghost tour
If you spend money in only one place in haunted St Augustine, make it a ghost tour.
We prebooked (and loved) the Ghost and Graveyards tour, one of many optional evening St Augustine ghost tours. It was a perfect mix of storytelling, sites, walking, riding (on a trolley), and fright.
While one guide stayed with us for the duration of the tour, she is part of a team of talented individuals who know how to tell spooky stories.
Prebooking turned out to be one of our better choices. Even with tours starting every 20 minutes from 6 pm, by 6.30 pm on the evening we went, they were fully booked until 11 pm.
Here are a few tour options, the one we did is at the top of the list and the only one we can personally recommend.
|Ghosts and Gravestones Tour||Trolley and walking tour|
Guides tell ghostly stories of St. Augustine’s past
Cemetery, wax museum, and jail visits
This is the tour we did.
|Secrets of St Augustine Ghost Tours||Guided walking tour|
Tales of trauma and tragedy
Visit the Hugenot Cemetery and the old city gates
Small group size (15 max)
|Haunted Stroll Through Old St Augustine||Guided walking tour|
Visit the Old Fort and Love Tree Cottage
Small group size (10 max)
Good for families
Where to stay in St Augustine Florida
Haunted hotels in St Augustine
If you’re reading this article, then you probably believe, at least a little, in the paranormal. But, do you trust it? How brave are you? Will you stay in one of the haunted hotels in St Augustine, or not? Here are two top picks in the historic district, all with great reviews:
St. Francis Inn
If ghosts are what you hope to see, ask to be on the third floor of this classic historic inn. Located in the historic district, it’s the attention to detail that will keep you smiling. Fresh flowers and sherry, along with individually decorated rooms, make this the ideal romantic getaway or take a larger unit for families (children aged 5+).
If you just want the ambiance but don’t want to think about the hauntings, request a room on the first or second floors. Reserve your room at St Francis Inn
Casa de Sueños
Also located in the historic district, Casa de Sueños is a charming bed and breakfast with exceptional reviews. It’s perfect for a romantic weekend.
If you’re lucky, you might meet Randolf, their playful resident ghost. Occasionally spotted, Randolf is well known for moving things around. Nothing goes missing for long, as Randolf always returns anything he borrows. Reserve your room at Casa de Sueños
Casa de Solana
Another haunted and quaint bed and breakfast in the historic district, Casa de Solana guests have heard whispers or footsteps, felt gentle touches, and even had things mysteriously moved.
The best places to experience this are the common areas of the courtyard, parlor, and dining rooms, as well as the Montejurra Room and the British Suite. Reserve your room at Casa de Solana.
More St Augustine hotels
If haunted hotels are not your thing, we recommend staying in the historic district so you can walk everywhere (parking isn’t that easy in this town). The hotel options vary from hostel to luxury and from old to modern. Check for other hotels in St Augustine.
Tips for visiting haunted St Augustine
- Head straight to the St Augustine historic district when you arrive.
- Arrive with an open mind. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, listen to the stories and the legends and find the grain of truth that somehow became a ghost story.
- While there seems to be plenty of public car parking, it fills quickly and finding a car par is often and difficult. We recommend getting an early start as we found parking before 10 am to be pretty easy.
- If you prefer transportation, consider the Old Town Trolley Tours.
- If you are on a budget, choose your activities carefully. Nearly all of the things to do in St Augustine come with a price tag.
- Driving up the east coast, or any USA road trip, St. Augustine makes a great stop.
Ghost stories and hauntings aren’t the only activities, there are plenty of other unique things to do in St. Augustine.
Save on your trip with these resources
These are our go-to companies when we travel. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Accommodations: we use Booking.com (hotels) or VRBO (self-contained).
- Cars (gas or electric): we use RentalCars to search for deals and dealer ratings.
- Campervans or Motorhomes: we use Campstar where Albom Adventures readers get a 3% discount
- Private guides: we love the private guides at Tours by Locals
- Travel Insurance: our go-to is World Nomads*.
Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
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Which haunted St Augustine site will you visit first?
More creepy places you might like
- J-Ward: Inside a Lunatic Asylum for the Criminally Insane
- Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires: Artistic or Eerie?
- Queen Street Auckland: Self-Guided Walk Uncovers Quirky Facts
- Sheraton Rarotonga: Abandonded Hotel with a Curse in the Cook Islands
- Gnomesville is Real! A Quirky Spot in Ferguson Valley, Australia
Disclaimer: We worked with Florida Historic Coast, the local tourism board. Also, we were provided with many complimentary entrances, tours, sample items, or media rates to assist in the writing of this review. The opinions expressed here are strictly our own.
My granddaughter (she’s 21 yrs old) is going to love your site. I must give her your link. You got some great stuff here I know she’s going to love. She even works at some place where they’re open all year around to spook people. I forget the name, but she’s in Chicago. I’m in a suburb close by. Thank you so much for sharing.
Very interesting article and it sounds as though there are plenty of activities and only a portion of the article was on the ghost tours. I loved it.
On my one visit to St. Augustine, I went to the fort and the lighthouse. I had no idea about them being haunted! What fun! I would love to return to this old city and explore more of it!
What an ideal place for a ghost tour, Rhonda! I hadn’t heard of St Augustine before but it looks as though it’s well worth a visit.
Very interesting article and it sounds as though there are plenty of activities to keep you busy in America’s oldest town. Not sure I really believe in ghosts but have an open mind. Love the weird green lights, although they look pretty modern?
Ericka @ A Quiet Girl's Musings...
St. Augustine has always been a city that has intrigued me, but one that I’ve yet to visit. I enjoyed the information shared in this post.
This area has always fascinated me, Rhonda, for its haunted nature. Such an old part of the US too. Everybody thinks New England as being the one place being discovered so long ago, but St. Augustine goes way back as well. Loving this post.
Lisa | Handmade in Israel
Way too scary for me but I do love the look of that lighthouse!
I am always intrigued by haunted places, but I don’t always check them out because I get too scared! I do enjoy learning all of the histories and stories, like what you’ve provided us in this blog post. It’s fun to think about what life was like and why people’s spirits may still be lingering around us.
Wow, I didn’t know there was so much to do in St. Augustine. I’m always a fan of haunted tours and I’m sure it’s even more fun with St. Augustine’s pirate history. I’ve been thinking about adding St. Augustine to my list of possible winter getaways. This post convinced me I really have to visit.
Beautiful photos!! You did an amazing job capturing the mood on the night photos!! My grandmother grew up near St. Augustine and she always talks about wants to go back to visit! I wonder if she knows all these stories… I’ll have to ask her when I visit tomorrow!!
Hahahaha! OMG, those tours look like fun. I’ve been on a haunted Edinburgh tour once and had the best time. St. Augustine even looks wonderful without the spooky bits!
Oh I love ghost stories! St. Augustine has really been on my radar recently – as someone who’s visited Florida (southwestern part) every year I don’t know why I virtually have not known anything about it until recently. But I love all the history and know I would love it, so hoping to dovetail it with one of my upcoming FL trips.
We absolutely loved St Augustine, although didn’t do any of the ghost tours as my girls were too scared! I loved touring the old gaol though
There is plenty to do with or without ghost tours.
Ooh, I like the ghostly idea to go threw the city. This would be exciting for me but not for Mary Lou. Oh well, she goes with me everywhere. LOL See ya Rhonda.
Assure Mary Lou, it’s not really about being frightening, but rather fascinating.
Ooh, I am in Florida right now, and have always wanted to visit St Augustine. AND I absolutely love ghost tours and stories. The perfect combination?! Maybe I will have to make a detour and visit 🙂
We have family in Southern Florida and have visited many times, but this was our first visit to St Augustine – and we loved it. Well worth the effort to get there (which could be pretty short, depending on which part of Florida you are in.)
I feel that ST. Augustine is a hidden gem here in the States. A friend goes there every year for Christmas and raves about it at the holidays. I’d love to go back! Thanks for the tour!
I’ll bet it’s beautiful in St Augustine at Christmas time.
Handmade Jewelry Haven
Ahhhhhh….St Augustine is an old haunt of mine! I met husband #1 there. Last time I was there, I took my kids to the Colonial Quarter and just LOVED it!!
Those ‘living’ displays on how life was lived back then took me right there.
Thanks for sharing someplace from my home state!
How cool that you met your husband in St. Augustine. I married mine on the other side of your state, in Sanibel Island.
I hadn’t even heard of St Augustine and then I thought it sounded like it was somewhere near New Orleans. It seems like there is tonnes to do there (apart from the ghost tours, which I’d visit for in itself!). Awesome wrap up!
Yes, there is tons to do in St Augustine, but it’s not that close to New Orleans. There are several states in between.
A fun tour of St Augustine – thank you!
St Augustine is full of surprises.
The ghost tour seriously sounds like fun. I feel like visiting this place soon. Thanks for the guide!
The ghost tour was seriously fun and fascinating.
Lydia C. Lee
That all looks really fun. I’d never even heard of St Augustine. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Makes me sound stupid 😉
There are so many fascinating places out there in the world, no one knows them all.
I have always wanted to go to St. Augustine and I still will, but not for the scary tour. Am too chicken for that 🙂
LOL – it was more about stories and legends than about frights. But, there is plenty to do in St Augustine without every encountering anything paranormal. It’s just a great place to visit.
What a wonderful tour!
Thanks Fi. Only a portion of the article was on the ghost tour, the rest is just cool places to go in St Augustine.
There is so much more to see, we just scratched the surface. I hope to get back some day.
I’ve only been in Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida so far. St. Augustine sounds like a nice place to visit. I’d love to see the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and the Castillo de San Marcos. As fo the Ghost Tours, I am not a fan of anything that has to do with horror and ghosts. Be it even for fun.
I am not a fan of being frightened, but I love the stories and legends. This tour was just the right mix.
L. Diane Wolfe
I love alligator farms. We used to visit the one in Hot Springs, AR all the time.
I also love a good ghost tour. Best one ever was in Edinburgh.
I don’t know, the one we went on would give the Edinburgh tour a run for its money.
What a great tour and guide LQQKS like great fun places that bloke hanging made me laugh especially if you keep staring at him heheh! I think him and the lady were the actors 🙂
Have a scarytastic week Rhonda 😉
The lady was our guide, the hanging guy is wax. The executioner came alive while she was talking and gave us all a fright.
Hmmm, I am putting St. Augustine on my bucket list. It looks like my kind of place.
I think it could be everyone’s type of place, there is such a variety of things to do.
Hi Rhonda – this sounds fascinating … and if I’m ever that way I’d love to go … your photos are glorious too; as too learning that your hubby enjoys these tales – myths: fact or fiction … I’m sure there’s something to them – cheers Hilary
It’s the grain of truth in every story that makes it believable, even to those who don’t believe in hauntings. The stories are all based in some historical facts.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
I hope the guy who is hanging is wax. Interesting that’s the oldest wax museum in the country.
We ever visit I’ll be sure that we take a ghost tour.
Yes, the hanging guy is wax, as is the one in the top hat. The women was our guide, and she went with us everywhere. It was the executioner who came alive rather unexpectedly.
Probably not my thing but my daughter and her friends would love this. They would want to go to them all.
There are plenty of non-haunted places to visit. St Augustine is a lovely town.
Castillo de San Marcos was also featured on taps – ghost hunters. I’d be so into visiting all of them!
Cool, I missed that one. It’s an interesting place, with quite a history.
So many haunted places to see and get scared half to death. Great shots and I’d love to see some of these.
Have a fabulous day and week, Rhonda. ♥
We didn’t actually see any of the ghosts, but the “wax” figure that came alive during the ghost tour gave me quite the freight.