Top 10 Places for Family Photos in St. Augustine

Ben is 15. That means 15 years of family photos under our belt- and believe me, it’s been a long time since we crammed into the Sears Portrait Studio for a hurried {or should I say harried?} torture photo session. When we moved to St. Augustine, we decided we were more catch us in real life people than say cheese right now, dangit people and thus began a decade of searching for the perfect on-location photography spots.

Fortunately for us, St. Augustine offers so many perfect backdrops, you could take a different family photo every day for a year! Fortunately for you, you don’t have to talk the family into coordinating outfits that frequently.

Speaking of outfits: blacks, whites & greys blend well without being too matchy-matchy. This one is on Ripley’s Train. photo cred: Sarahdipity Photography

Here are Simply St. Augustine’s Top 10 Places for Family Photos:

1. Alpine Groves Park:

Alpine Groves has river views, grassy expanses, a dock and an old farmhouse- lots of spots for family photos!

What you’ll find there: 54 acres of photographic bliss. Lots of trees = perfect lighting any time of day. A 1900’s farmhouse willingly lends its porches and steps and railings and surrounding rustic split rail fence. The playground is uniquely reminiscent of the property’s Orange Packing days and will diffuse mounting tensions when kids are d.u.n. done. There is plenty of open space around the house looking out on the river, a sometimes-kept butterfly garden  and a winding path through the woods connecting the playground with the homestead. The piece de resistance is the dock reaching out into the St. Johns River.

Where: 2060 State Road 13 It’s in the Northwest corner of the county and hard to get to from just about everywhere… but it’s worth the drive.

Lighting: Gorgeous. You can find good, filtered light any time of day.

2. Castillo de San Marcos:

Friends took their engagement photos at the Castillo. The contrast of rough walls with formal clothes looked awesome. photo cred: Charlie Burlingame

What you’ll find there: A centuries-old Spanish fort guarding the bay. 20 acres of lawn dotted with the occasional palm tree- a line of evergreens borders the North end of the property. The rough coquina construction of the fort provides contrast and great texture in portraits. Since it’s a square, you can always find a spot without tourists… perfect lighting is another challenge entirely. Waterfront vistas and a rolling lawn provide additional spots for photos. Modeling in the fort with a photographer technically requires a permit ($200 and weeks in advance) – you should only need to pay admission for casual family photos.

Where: 1 South Castillo Drive It’s in the heart of St. Augustine.

Lighting: Light is harsh- take photos early in the morning or around sunset.

3. The Beaches:

DeeLee Photography made this montage after our fun beach photo session- isn’t it the sweetest!?!

What you’ll find there: Sand. Seashells. Waves. Wind to mess up your perfect hair- but it’s real life and wind blown hair is gorgeous! Guana beaches are steep but the dunes are undeveloped for a more natural setting. Vilano beach is a bit wider and you can drive on it if you have someone with you who has a hard time walking in the sand. Anastasia State Park is wide open and au natural. Also fewer people due to admission cost. St. Augustine Beach & Pier offers the structure of the pier for great shots and unique vantage points. Butler Beach remains my favorite for everything from swimming to body surfing to photos. Go there yourself and see why!

Where: Here’s a roundup of the most popular beaches in St. Augustine.

Lighting: Light is harsh- take photos early in the morning or around sunset.

4. Mission of Nombre de Dios:

One of my favorite family photos. We’re in front of the Our Lady of LaLeche Chapel. How fitting. photo credit: the fabulous, easy-going, and very talented Ruth Ann

What you’ll find there: Peace. Tranquility. Fountains. A vine-covered chapel. Waterfront vistas. Gazebos. It’s a photographer’s dream-come-true because in one location there are so many unique settings. My favorite family photo time to date was a breakfast shoot at Mission of Nombre de Dios with a sweet friend who’s a gifted photographer. It felt more like we were playing than posing and the resulting photos were a great reflection of our kids’ personalities.

Where: 27 Ocean Avenue – just a few miles north of the historic City Gates (which would also make a fun location but are harder to catch without tourists photo bombing)

Lighting: Filtered but bright spots of sunlight falling through the canopy can make for a spotty photo- frame wisely.

Can’t believe the girls used to be this little!!!
One more! One more! I love the variety available on the Mission grounds.

5. Fountain of Youth Archeological Park

What you’ll find there: Lots of peacocks, wide open space and a long walkway over the marsh. Here’s a blog about the Fountain of Youth. You’ll want to check with them ahead of time on their current policy about taking family photos there- and be aware that there is a charge for admission.

Where: 11 Magnolia Avenue

Lighting: There is some shade but hit this park early or late.

6. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park:
Washington Oaks Gardens’ rose garden.
What you’ll find there: Rocky beaches, cultivated gardens including water features and gazebos, intracoastal views. A canopy of venerable oaks on the intracoastal side offers dappled shade most of the day. Another of our favorite places to relax near St Augustine… and one of the few we still haven’t taken family photos at!
Where: 6400 N Oceanshore Blvd, Palm Coast, FL – Yes, it’s quite a drive South. Yes, it’s worth it. Pack a picnic.
Lighting: Filtered light on the intracoastal side, beach side is what you’d expect- bright. Early mornings can be slightly misty and gorgeous.

7. Davenport Park & Carousel:

It’s hard not to smile when you’re riding a Merry Go Round!

What you’ll find there: A vintage carousel for whimsical photos at any age, a handicap-accessible playground, swings. It’s a fairly busy playground but the carousel operator is friendly and likely to give you time to take photos.

Where: Here’s a post with details.

Lighting: Full sun.

8. The doors, Walls and Gates of Downtown St. Augustine:

Christmas photos in front of the oldest wall in St. Augustine. photo credit: Sarahdipity Photos

Where: Turn down just about any side street of St. George and you’ll find teeny red doors, aged arched doorways, clapboard homes and spanish stucco walls. Definitely don’t trespass, but you’re welcome to pause in a vacant doorway or lean against a wall for a uniquely textured backdrop. Want to make this even better? Include a Hyppo Pop for a touch of hometown charm… you know drippy popsicles make fussy photo sessions better!!

9. Aviles Street:

A European take on St. Augustine. photo cred: Sarahdipity Photos

What you’ll find there: The oldest wall in St. Augustine. Brick lined streets. Narrow alleys with fire escapes. This one little street could be the center of your entire shoot! Cars do drive on this road, so be aware and be courteous.

Where: Uhh… Aviles Street. 😉 

10. Under a Love Tree

Ok- this one isn’t professional, our tween took it. But how much fun is a kiss under the love tree!?!

What you’ll find there: True love. Legend has it that if you kiss under a love tree, your love will last forever. Even though tour guides only talk about one, there are many love trees in St. Augustine. Click this link if you’re wondering-> “Where is the St Augustine Love Tree?

At Christmastime you can pose in front of the giant tree on the plaza. You can gather in the gazebo on the plaza any time of year! As I said, this list could go on… {bayfront!} and on… {the Lighthouse!} and on… {Lightner Museum!}. The biggest thing to remember is to go where you feel comfortable and have fun with your family.

Taking a lot of pictures can get old… so we choose to have fun instead of being perfect! photo cred: Great Life Photos

Enjoy life, enjoy family and enjoy St. Augustine!

The photos on this page were snapped by professional photographers. If you’re looking for a local area photographer, I highly recommend each of these ladies: Sarahdiptiy Photos, Bethany Walter Photography, Great Life Photography


  1. Jennifer Turner says

    This is wonderful! I have so many ideas, now just to decide which ones to use! Thank you Allie!

  2. Tina bloeser says

    Thanks for the info. This gave me some great Ideas and some great tips for my family photos. Now just need to get them all together. Thanks again

    • says

      Absolutely! This town is so fun to take photos in! I love St Augustine!

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