It should come as no surprise that at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! we relish in the strange, mind-bending artifacts and incredible history that continues to influence generations upon generations.

History Of Ripley’s St. Augustine Odditorium!

Did you know the first Ripley’s permanent Odditorium to ever open was in St. Augustine? Located at 9 San Marco Avenue, the Odditorium was once known as The Warden Castle.

Augustine, Fla

Old City Gate, St. Augustine, Fla. Detroit Publishing Co. publisher
Date Created/Published: [ca. 1900]

The castle, prized for its unimaginable Moorish Revival architecture, once belonged to William G. Warden. The four-story castle was built in the 1880s as Warden’s winter home. As a business partner of John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler, he hosted many of the nation’s elite business leaders and their loved ones at the castle.

Old City Gate, St. Augustine, Fla

Old City Gate, St. Augustine, Fla. Detroit Publishing Co. publisher
Date Created/Published: [ca. 1900]

The Warden family lived in the mansion until the late 1920s. Eventually, it became a hotel when Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Yearling, purchased the home with her husband (We are dying to go into detail about the infamous hotel check-in by Mr. X at this point in the story but, you’ll just have to take one of the Ripley’s St. Augustine ghost tours to find out about him!)


Inside the castle when it was a hotel! Robert Ripley stayed here often.

Robert Ripley Passes

Believe it or not, Robert Ripley tried time after time to purchase Castle Warden, but he was continuously denied. It wasn’t until his sudden death in 1949 that he was able to acquire the property in 1950.

Old photos circa 1950 of the St. Augustine BION.

Old photos circa 1950 of the St. Augustine BION.

Old photos circa 1950 of the St. Augustine BION.

Old photos circa 1950 of the St. Augustine BION.

Red Trains

Red Trains Come to Ripley!

Did you know that Ripley’s Red Trains are one of the oldest attractions in the state of Florida? Operating since 1953, they were born from the “Saint Augustine Trailer Train Wars” between H.L. “Slim” McDaniel and Joseph “Joe” McClure. The trains were incorporated in 1967 and later became the property of another Saint Augustine legend, Mr. A.H. “Hoopie” Tebault.

With this fun bit of Florida history, it only seemed natural to incorporate the Red Trains with our St. Augustine Odditorium. In 2014 the Red Trains joined the Ripley Entertainment family of attractions, adding to the ongoing legacy of Ripley’s in this historically beautiful, and fascinating city!

Nights of Lights

If you thought St. Augustine was already enchanting, you’ve never seen anything as breathtaking as Nights of Lights. Finding magic in the holidays is as easy as visiting Florida. Selected by National Geographic as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world, St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights features more than 3 million lights! Believe it or not, the inventor of Christmas lights, Edward Hibberd Johnson was not only an engineer but a businessman. He invested $35,000 in helping form the Edison Lamp Company. Johnson seized the perfect opportunity to find a way to sell lights-blubs. He hand-wired around 75 or so light bulbs, ranging from red, blue, and white, around a tree at the street-side window of his shop. Keep in mind, during the early 1900s, electricity wasn’t available to everyone. Johnson used a generator to keep the egg-shaped lights going.

Just one string of bulbs would have easily cost you $12 in 1900, roughly $350 today! It wasn’t until 1914 a string of lights would range around $1.75.

This season, step aboard the Red Train and experience the 24th Annual Nights of Lights in St. Augustine—your chance to see the nation’s oldest city like never before as it comes to life with millions of tiny bright lights!

St. Augustine Nights of Light

St. Augustine Nights of Light

Trust us when we say, you will not want to miss celebrating the festivities with us!

The city will offer complimentary shuttles for Nights of Lights from lots at 301 San Marco Ave and 200 San Sebastián View every Saturday night in December. Shuttles will stop at the Visitor Information Center across the street from Ripley’s, and you can just walk over to start your tour!

Red Train

Nights of Lights Train

Enjoy holiday carols and free magic viewing glasses! Tours are offered every night except Christmas.

We want to wish you the merriest of holidays!

Robert Ripley Holiday

Have you experienced Nights of Lights? Let us know in the comments below!