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To drive or not to drive: that is the question! St. Augustine Beach is a great place from which to base your vacation from. However, then you have to decide to drive to downtown St. Augustine and pay to park or to take the beach bus. Knowing that the historic district is a walking kind of place, you might want to leave your car at the beach hotel and take the "Beach Bus" by Old Town Trolley. OK first this company does a great job of transportation. Passes can be purchased online at about $20 per adult ($9 for kids) for three days. These passes include the tours downtown. The services is good and the value of the 3 day pass is good. However if you choose this method of transport, please consider the following:
1) Even with a bus on time,expect around 45 minutes of time to get downtown versus 10 minutes max to drive and park. This is because you have other stops on the beach bus route.
2) There is only one place to depart and board the beach bus and, while that is ok in the morning, the afternoon line to get back on the bus is crowded at this little city bus stop. Most importantly, factor in the time to walk to and from this "beach bus " stop to intended destinations. (With your car, none of this is a headache except where to pay for your parking).
3) The Old Town Trolley has a lot of stops; the OTT Beach Bus has just one stop at the historic district. While it sounds simple enough to just jump on an OT trolley to get to the OT beach bus stop, in practice it is NOT that simple.
4) Be aware that the last bus leaves at 4:30 or you are out of luck to get back to your St.Aug Beach hotel. It can make you a little crazy if you are not familiar with the city and you may not know how long it would take to walk back to the beach bus stop.
5) If you find yourself facing a full next-to-last or last shuttle, the OTT should be able to call back up shuttles.
The bottom line: With time at a premium, you may not want to take the beach bus, but then again, it may work for you. It is a nice bus with a very nice and competent driver. However, you may not want to spend 45 minutes of your vacation on a "scenic" tour of bus stops at other hotels. You may want to travel by car to get to the historic district in St.Augustine (or other downtown activities) as soon as you can each day.