Pirate and Treasure Museum, St. Augustine
Avast ye, matey! Did ya hear? Pirates have invaded St. Augustine!
Things to Do for Families in St. Augustine
After commandeering Key West for five years, a band of pirates have made their home in historic St. Augustine at the Pirate and Treasure Museum. Situated along the water and across from the famed fort, Castillo de San Marcos, this stronghold is the perfect place for them to take up residence and you’ll definitely want to add this stop to any trip to Florida’s historic coast.
Fun Florida Day Trip for the Family
I do have to admit, before I looked into the museum, I assumed that it would be a bit kitschy, as many attractions in tourism hot spots tend to be. I perused their website and read their reviews online, only to find that many of their visitors felt the same way I did at first, but were pleasantly delighted with how much they enjoyed their time.
The reviews were from families with kids of all ages, as well as both younger and older couples who all said they would be back again. With our doubts tossed overboard, our course was set, and my husband, Scott, his mom, Linda, and our daughter, Avery, and I set sail for a day with the pirates.
St. Augustine wasn’t picked at random to house the seadogs, as the city’s history is rich with pirate lore and intertwined with some of the world’s most famous pirates like Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles who frequented the area. Inside, you’ll find over 800 authentic pirate artifacts and priceless treasure. Unlike many other “hands-off” museums, this house of scalawags has a “please touch!” policy with exhibits that delight all of the senses. This was perfect for our toddler whose little hands simply must touch everything.
What You Will Find at the Pirate Museum
A walk through the museum will take you around an hour, but transports you back to the Golden Age of Piracy. Your first steps lead you through infamous Port Royal in Jamaica where you can peek in shop windows at the daily lives of pirates in port. Your next stop lands you in the Rogues Tavern where you can meet the biggest influencers of St. Augustine’s history and “flip” the digital pages of an interactive book of pirates.
Next up, you’ll climb aboard their ship to explore the high seas. This was our little buccaneer’s favorite spot, and for good reason. You can try your hand at steering the ship, hoisting the Jolly Roger, visit the captain’s cabin and learn to tie a real ship’s knot. Perhaps the most surprising exhibit was the chance to sniff the ship’s cargo and take a guess at what’s inside.
By far, the most popular and exciting spot to visit is the gun deck, where you can “light a match” and fire off a real canon. The museum takes you through the average life, and death, of a pirate and after your time pillaging at sea, its straight to the execution dock.
On the dock, you’ll find the world’s oldest wanted poster along with the gruesome details of the punishments for piracy. While this area is a bit spooky, it’s not overly terrifying for small children. Several audio animatronic pirates are sprinkled throughout the museum, and here you’ll find the head of Blackbeard himself rattling off tales of his adventures.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, your next stop lands you safely on Shipwreck Island with all the spoils of your conquests – treasure! In keeping with the hands-on policy, you can touch a real treasure chest and feel the weight of a real gold bar.
While the museum doesn’t take up a lot of space in the downtown area, it is certainly big on detail. Each area is accented with mood lighting to set the scene and sound effects to fill the air – even a crackling fire in the tavern’s fireplace. The museum does an excellent job at combining education with fun, making it a real adventure to learn about the life and times of pirates. You can grab a treasure map on your way in and search for hidden artifacts in special drawers and cabinets. Find all 12 and you can take home your own piece of pirate booty!
If you can, visit on a weekday or around 10 a.m. when they first open – the museum does fill up quickly with swashbucklers of all ages. Your ticket is good all day to come and go as you please.
So, landlubbers beware! Make sure you have your eye patch on straight and put your best peg-leg forward for an adventure-filled trip on the high seas!
Hours and Ticket Prices:
Pirate and Treasure Museum
Open daily 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Adults: $14.99; Senior/Military: $11.99; Kids (5-12): $7.99; Under 4: Free