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St. Augustine Pirate Museum: Fun for history lovers and kids

Last updated on August 16th, 2021 at 09:24 am

Rare artifacts & interactive exhibits are draw to St. Augustine Pirate Museum

You’ll find pirate festivals in Tampa and pirate wannabes in Key West, but no Florida city has seen more actual pirates than St. Augustine.

Francis Drake sacked and burned the place in 1586; a century later it was pirate Robert Searles’ turn. Pirates were back in 1683 and 1686.

St. Augustine Pirate Museum: The jolly roger flies overhead. Photo by Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler.
St. Augustine Pirate Museum: The jolly roger flies overhead. Photo by Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler.

Finally, the Spanish built a fort – the magnificent Castillo de San Marcos, now a national historic site  – partly to keep out the plundering pirates.

With all that pirate history, then, it makes sense that a St. Augustine pirate museum would be a tourist destination.

The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum appeals to history lovers and kids, and if you fall into one of those categories, you might choose it from among the several dozen attractions vying for your tourist dollars.

St. Augustine Pirate Museum: One of two known skull and crossbone flags is on display.
One of two known skull and crossbone flags is on display at the St. Augustine Pirate Museum. Photo by Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler.

 

Two things you should know about the St. Augustine Pirate Museum:

  • It has authentic museum-quality artifacts well-documented and explained. You’ll see one of only two existing jolly roger pirate flags and see Captain Kidd’s treasure chest and family Bible, among many other items. If you love pirates, you’ll find plenty here of interest.
  • To keep all that “real museum” stuff fun, the place injects a dose of Disney. An animatronic version of Blackbeard’s severed head talks to you in a darkened gallery. You enter a dark room and put on headphones for an audio pirate drama. There are many interactive activities; we saw kids happily exploring the museum in a treasure-hunt game, searching for skull-and-crossbones icons hidden throughout.
A rare pirate treasure chdest at St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.
A rare pirate treasure chest at St. Augustine Pirate Museum. Photo by Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler

The last room (before you “exit through the gift shop”) is devoted to Hollywood pirates and at its center, displayed with as much reverence as if it belonged to Blackbeard himself, is the sword used by Johnny Depp in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.

The St. Augustine Pirate Museum is a “[assion project” of Pat Croce, a self-made millionaire entrepreneur who has collected pirate artifacts his whole life and funded the 2011 expedition that successfully found the wreck of a ship sailed by Sir Francis Drake.

The museum started in Key West 25 years ago and moved to St. Augustine, opening in 2010.

An animatronic version of Blackbeard’s severed head at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.
An animatronic version of Blackbeard’s severed head at the St. Augustine Pirate Museum. Photo by Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler.

St. Augustine Pirate Museum

St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum website

12 S Castillo Dr, St. Augustine

Gold coins at the St. Augustine Pirate Museum.
Gold coins at the St. Augustine Pirate Museum. Photo by Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler

Admission: If you buy your tickets online: $16 adults; $8 ages 5 to 12. You can buy a combo ticket with the adjacent sister attraction, the Colonial Quarter Living History Museum. Also: Check the brochure racks and free tourist guides for coupons good for $1 off on tickets.

Note to parents: Some of material covered might frighten younger and sensitive children.

TripAdvisor reader give it 4.5 stars.

More pirate action

Things to do near St. Augustine

Note: I visited the Pirate & Treasure Museum with a complementary pass with a group of travel writers, but these opinions are my own.

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

This article is the property of FloridaRambler.com and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.


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