Who Do You Tip in St. Augustine?

{imagine waves washing against the shore and Spanish guitar strumming peacefully in the background as Florida’s sun warms your skin… ok, now you’re ready to read…}

You’re planning a slipaway to St. Augustine complete with B&B reservations, a walking tour and some down time to explore the town’s restaurants and bars. Now that you’ve read up on the best restaurants in St. Augustine and picked the beach you’ll hang at, it should be smooth sailing. No decisions to make- just lots of R&R… {Wait!!! Apply brakes!!}

Not so fast, Mr. Tourist! You need more help than you realize! You need the…

Simply St. Augustine Guide to Tipping!!! 

There are so many experiences in St. Augustine outside of the ordinary- it can be really hard to know whom to tip and how much. I spoke with several “industry experts” to help demystify the whole topic. Read on, bring some cash and kick back to enjoy your relaxing, stess-free vacation.

B&B /  Hotel Housekeeping

 $2-$5 per day – $5 or more being a “thank you” for staff going the extra mile.
Tour Guides Tip like restaurant waitstaff: 15% average, 20% excellent, etc.
Carriage Drivers  $20 for a ride for 4 or 20%
Tip-Based Fare Pedicab Drivers $8-10 to pedal a couple to the other end of the historic district
Trolley & Train Drivers A few dollars says a BIG “thank you”!
Car Valet $2 – $5 per valet
Bellhop $1 per bag
Restaurants & Bars using Coupons Don’t forget to tip on the total before discount or Groupon!
Live Musicians They round out your experience like no other can… don’t forget to thank them!

B&B and High End Hotel Housekeeping: Tipping the house staff is a way to say “thank you”, according to Bayfront Marin Bed & Breakfast owner Sandy. “If the staff has gone out of their way to make your stay memorable–whether that’s filling ice buckets, making towel origami for your kids, or putting fresh flowers next to your bed…” If you aren’t sure how much to tip, a general rule is $2 – $5 per day, and it’s fine to do a lump sum at the end of your stay.

Tours: When you purchase a walking tour ticket, you are not only hiring a guide with the price of the ticket. These small businesses cover advertising, pay for your food or drinks (if included in your tour), and hire the licensed & trained guide all from the price of the ticket. Mia Bain, owner of St. Augustine Historic Walking Tours, suggests comparing to a restaurant experience when deciding how much to tip your walking tour guide. “You let your tour guide know how you much you enjoyed the experience they provided by your tip; 15% is average. Tipping is never required, but it is a nice way to show your appreciation.”

Carriage Drivers: Similar to walking tours, when you pay $85 for a horse & buggy ride in St. Augustine, it’s hard to know how much to tip. Bobby, owner of Southern Carriage, says their guides’ average tip is about $20. “It depends on how good the tour is, too,” he adds. A carriage tour is 45 min to an hour, depending on traffic.

Pedicab Drivers: Pedicabs are relatively new to St. Augustine’s tour scene and they don’t have set fares for people catching a quick, cool ride from one end of town to the other. “It’s definitely kind of a foreign concept for a lot of people,” owner Ashley Mentor agreed. “We usually recommend $10-15 per couple for a ride across the historic district. Part of why we do tip-based fares is so everybody can afford to take a pedicab.”

Pedicab of St. Augustine also offers personalized tours for 2 and since the cab is compact, drivers can introduce visitors to parts of town they haven’t seen from carriages or trolleys. These “Off the Beaten Path” tours are $35 for 2 people- you can tip on the traditional scale for these.

Trolley & Train Drivers: Most attractions ask that visitors not tip throughout their experience. Kim Kiff, manager of Ripley’s, shared that the only exception in their family of attractions are the Train drivers. “Generally, if people have enjoyed their tour, these guys get small tips- anywhere from .50 to a couple of dollars but sometimes they get $25 surprises! I would just say if someone enjoys their train tour & enjoys what the driver has taught them about the city & their experience, tipping a few dollars is a great way to say thanks.”

Valet: The norm for valet service is $2-$5 per person handling your car- so save enough to tip at the end of the night, too! There are few places in St. Augustine that valet- Casa Monica Hotel, Hilton bayfront, Cap’s on the Water and Salt Life Food Shack are the only ones in St. Augustine that come to mind.

Bellhop: This one’s easy- $1 per bag.

Restaurants & Bars: I asked John at our favorite hangout, Ann O’Malley’s, how much people should tip at a bar. “Millions of Dollars,” he joked. You know how to tip your server – 15% says the service needed a lot of improvement, 20% says thank you and more shows gratitude for exceptional service. One lesson my hubby’s Uncle Will taught us early on was to tip well on the first round. On a busy night, that helps ensure you’ll get good service throughout your stay. I don’t think John would argue with that!

Groupons & Coupons: If you’re coming to town with a St. Augustine Groupon or a St. Augustine Coupon, congrats! It’s a great way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h those vacation dollars. But keep in mind that you should tip based on the total before the discount. Remember that a couple of dollars per ticket across the course of the night could really hurt your server’s income- or be a blessing! Choose to be a blessing. 🙂

Live Musicians: If you stopped outside a restaurant to listen to a song or two, run in and drop a few dollars in the tip jar. If you chose a restaurant based on the music, the biggest tip you can give is to find the manager and thank them for such a talented musician! Many of our local musicians offer CDs for sale- buy a CD or leave a tip if you loved their sound!!

Y’all have fun in #StAugustine… Enjoy your stay the local way!

Comments

  1. says

    nice refresher course on what is proper, Thanks!

  2. Meme says

    Cap’s on the Water valet parks. So does Palm Valley Fish Camp.

    • says

      Fantastic! I guess it’s been a long time since I was at either place- or I was there on a slow night. THANKS for the heads-up!

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