Eighteen miles south of St. Augustine, 35 miles north of Daytona Beach, the original sea-creature amusement park, Marineland (904/471-1111, daily, $12 adults), opened with a “splash” in 1938 and closed down suddenly in 1998, declaring bankruptcy after struggling for years to compete with the much-larger likes of Sea World and Disney World. Marineland, which is credited with the first performing dolphins (and with playing a key role in the sci-fi movie Creature from the Black Lagoon), reopened in 2005 on a much smaller scale, with an “edutainment” focus on offering intimate encounters with its famous dolphins. It sounds like a magical experience, but before you mention Marineland to your kids, be warned: these “Swim with a Dolphin” programs cost around $200 per person—and up.
Continuing along the coast south of Marineland, you start to see roadside fruit stands advertising “Indian River Fruit”—something you’ll see more of as you travel south. This is a major citrus-growing region. This stretch of Hwy-A1A, around the town of Flagler Beach, is also one of the few where you can actually see the ocean from the road.