Lightner Museum

We were tourists for the weekend and it was July {read: HOT}.  We checked out of The Casa Monica at 11:00 and had dinner reservations at 5:00… what to do?  What to do?

The answer was right in front of us… literally!  We headed in to the Lightner Museum- next door to The Casa Monica- for an afternoon of priceless antiques, quirky memorabilia and air conditioning. {I’m not gonna lie, that was our #1 reason.}

The Lightner Museum is a collection of Otto Lightner’s collections- from grand (Tiffany glass) to silly (walking sticks)!  Housed in the opulent building that was The Alcazar Hotel, Lightner’s collections give a glimpse into the grandeur of 18th Century St. Augustine – then a destination for the elite.

I enjoyed the architecture of the building as much as the collections.  We strolled through the steam baths, admired tile work in the foyer and gazed at the huge space that was the world’s largest indoor swimming pool in the early 1900s!

Cafe Alcazar is in the deep end of the pool.  Can you imagine all of that space filled with water?  Gym rings and bars hung from the rafters for the guys to show off on.  One shopkeeper remembers stories of her Dad swimming in the pool!!

Some nights, a band would float around the pool in a boat and people would dance in the ballrooms surrounding the pool.  Move over Vegas!!  I bet it seemed magical…  We still have special events at The Lightner.  I hope to go to the gala next year.

When you visit most days, though, you see things like this:

Lions, shrunken heads, giant turtles… oh gracious- there’s so much I can’t even remember!
ProTip: Ask at the front desk for a scavenger hunt.  It helps you enjoy the first floor more.
Chris and I were there without kids so we had time to read signs and examine collections.  I will definitely go  back with our children {especially since it’s free for St. Johns County Residents} but I won’t expect to spend as much time there.  In fact, Chris and I were kind of “museumed out” by the time we made it to the depression glass exhibit.

We perked up in the stained glass room.  Isn’t this Tiffany lamp gorgeous?  Now I’m excited to do the Flagler College Tour and see the stained glass there again.

Combined with lunch at Cafe Alcazar and some time browsing the antique shops {I scored a magenta enamel and sterling bracelet for $5 in one shop!}, you could spend hours at The Lightner Museum.  We easily passed the hottest part of the day there and had a lot to talk about as we walked to dinner at Harry’s.

Protip: Stop by the koi pond on your way out of the Lightner and feed the koi!  Kids will enjoy tossing the food to the “giant goldfish” and you can take in one last glimpse of the courtyard, architecture and memory of the grand Florida escape of the 1800′s.

Oh, and for finding everything on my scavenger hunt, I got a smiley sticker.  :)

Lightner Museum
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., daily (last entrance at 4:00)
Adults: $10.00, children 12-18: $5

5 comments


  • We love the Lightner! Just went there for our first visit in July and fell in love with the place. SO much to see and do there!

    September 27, 2012
  • Mima

    I visited the Lightener with my 10-Year Old grandaughter, and we had a great time (Although we only saw 3 of the 4 floors). My grandaughter enjoyed it as well as I, but she pointed out that it might be a bit much for toddlers (good observation). I look forward to returning one day.

    October 18, 2012
  • Thank you for the tip on the Groupon. The deal was still available and I was able to get 4 tickets. I love finding gems like that.

    March 18, 2013
  • I am the custodian of many hunting knives–in their original packings, as well as other “collectable items” that I would like to donate to the Lightner Museum. There are also hundreds of 33 RPM Records in this collection–jazz, popular artists. Is the Lightner interested. I can be reached at 904-343-8855.

    May 31, 2013
    • You would need to contact Lightner Museum with that question! Pop in there or call their office (904) 824-2874

      June 1, 2013

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