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If you’re planning a vacation in Florida with the family or that special someone, you’re probably wondering where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. Florida is a beautiful and eclectic state that offers some of the best resorts, restaurants and activities for people of all ages.

But where in Florida should you visit, exactly? You’ve got playful Orlando and steamy Miami. There are the charming Florida Keys and rowdy Tampa Bay. And while all of these locations are excellent vacation destinations, there’s another worth exploring, and that’s St. Augustine, Florida. Not only is St. Augustine teeming with history, but there is an awesome dolphin facility where you can swim with dolphins!

Why Visit St. Augustine, Florida?

Visit St Augustine Florida

Why Visit St. Augustine, Florida?

Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest town in the United States. You can actually feel its history seeping out of the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, and you can swear you see the ghosts of ancient settlers as you turn each corner. And at times, you may very well be having a paranormal experience. Some of St. Augustine’s top attractions are the many nighttime ghost tours that take you to numerous locations that are said to be haunted by Spanish settlers.

But if being covered in goosebumps is not your thing, there are plenty of other things to do in the area. This gorgeous ancient city offers a variety of boutiques, restaurants, live music venues, and art galleries. And of course, St. Augustine has its fair share of pristine beaches to comb or simply take a nap on.

But one of the absolutely best things about St. Augustine is its proximity to the Marineland Dolphin facility, a magical place where you can swim with dolphins!

Dreams Come True at St. Augustine Beach and Your Dolphin program!

Without question, St. Augustine’s Marineland is one of the top attractions in all of Northern Florida. Each year, thousands of visitors come to swim with dolphins and make their childhood dreams come true.

If you and your family will be heading to St. Augustine, Florida do yourself a favor and be sure to spend (at least) one afternoon at Marineland. Their dolphin swim programs in St Augustine are excellent and your time here will be time you never forget.

Each program starts out with a brief introduction where you’ll learn all about dolphin behavior, and your group will have time to ask any questions you may have at the end. And then it’s time to slip into the water to meet your new dolphin pals.

St. Augustine’s Marineland offers three distinct dolphin programs:

Royal Swim

The Royal Swim program is considered one of the most fun and unique programs at the facility. You will NOT be disappointed. In addition to getting hugs and handshakes from the dolphins, you’ll also get to experience the thrilling dorsal pull and foot push. I will NEVER forget my first experience with the foot push. The dolphins are behind you, pushing you by the soles of your feet as they swim super fast. As their speed increases, you rise above water and feel like you are flying! Every time I get a chance to visit a dolphin facility, I always opt for the package that allows me to experience those thrills all over again.

Swim Adventure

The Swim Adventure programs takes interaction to a whole new level! You’ll get the chance to touch and play with dolphins, getting hugs and giving kisses. But you’ll also get to experience the exciting belly ride. During this interaction, the dolphin will swim on their back and you will climb aboard their belly and hold on to their pectoral flippers as they zoom around the water. Try not giggling your head off during THIS program!

Dolphin Encounter

The Dolphin Encounter program is designed for very little ones or anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer or who doesn’t feel very comfortable in deeper water. This program allows you to interact with the dolphins in shallow waters. One of the fun games you’ll play with the dolphins is hand target. This is where the dolphin will come up to touch your hand with its rostrum.

No matter which dolphin program you select, you and your loved ones are sure to make memories that last a lifetime.

Book Your Dolphin Program Now

 

Dolphin Swim St Augustine

Spend the Day at Magical Marineland

The Marineland Dolphin facility has a rich history. It was actually opened in the 1930s by two dolphin lovers who were both involved in the motion-picture industry. In those days, the facility was also used for Hollywood filmmakers to shoot underwater footage for their movies and newsreels.

During the 1940s and 50s, the facility evolved and began offering more interactions between visitors and dolphins. By the 1960s, Marineland had become one of the top attractions in the entire state, welcoming over 500,000 guests a year.

During the early 2000s, the facility went through some major renovations and reopened in 2006 as a modern 1.3 million gallon facility with a focus on educating the public on the importance of protecting these amazing creatures.

In addition to the three dolphin programs I mentioned, Marineland offers some other fun programs and if you have more time available, I highly recommend you check these out:

Dolphin Designs

This is a really fun interactive program for people who love art. You will get to choose three paint colors for the dolphin and he or she will create a unique painting on a canvas that you hold over the water. It’s a combined effort to create a work of art that you then get to take home.

Trainer For A Day

Do you or someone in your family think being a dolphin trainer would be a great career? Well you’ll get to see what it’s actually like in this program. You’ll spend the entire day alongside one of Marineland’s dolphin trainers, helping them with that day’s activities. Since every day is different for the trainers at Marineland, no two programs will ever be the same.

Tortoise Time

Dolphins aren’t the only marine animals with artistic ability! You’ll not only get to feed and interact with these amazing tortoises, you’ll also get to take home an original and highly unique painting painted by your new tortoise friend.

Book Your St Augustine Dolphin Program

Dolphin Encounter St Augustine

Getting to Marineland

The Marineland facility islocated on St. Augustine Beach, which is only about a half hour away (depending on traffic) from the city of St. Augustine, so getting there will be easy. Here are your basic options:

Rent a Car

If you are flying into Florida,you may want to think about renting a car at the airport. This way you can easily drive to the facility.

Beach Bus Shuttle

If you don’t want to rent a car, the cheapest way to get from St. Augustineto St. Augustine Beachis by bus, which costs $1 and takes 7 min.

Uber/Lyft/Taxi

If you won’t be renting your own car and you don’t like relying on bus schedules, there is also the option of hiring a taxi or using Uber or Lyft for your ride. With only a 20-30 minute trip, fares should be, well, fair.

Book Your Dolphin Swim in St Augustine

Hotel and BandB St Augustine

Accommodations in St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine has no shortage of absolutely spectacular hotels, resorts and B7Bs. Here are a few I am a personal fan of:

Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

When you’re visiting the oldest settled town in America, you can be sure you will have some charming and historic hotels to choose from. The Casa Monica Resort & Spa, nestled in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district, was originally built in 1888 and is replete with ornate chandeliers and plush furniture.

Not only does this resort offer convenience, being within walking distance of popular sites such as Flagler College, Lightner Museum, Castillo de San Marcos and St. George Street, it also offers almost obscene amounts of luxury and world-class amenities. Enjoy beautifully appointed rooms with plush bedding, smart TVs and free Wi-Fi access. Spend an afternoon (or two) at the hotel’s spa for the pampering you’ve been hoping for. The hotel also offers an excellent restaurant that serves flavorful Mediterranean cuisine.

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, Casa Monica Resort will not disappoint!

5 Cordova StSt. Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 827-1888

The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens

And speaking of unique! The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens sits on the site of the former Down Museum Historic Houses. Picture a one-acre garden oasis with nine historic homes dating from the 1790s to 1910, and you see why staying here will be an experience like no other.

This hotel is located in downtown St. Augustine and takes up an entire city block. Some have called it the world’s most thoughtfully curated hotel. And when it comes to a rich history, the Collector can’t be beat. The site once served as a 16th century hospital and cemetery, an 18th century Spanish defense line, and the setting for the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation reading that freed Florida’s slaves.

Today the art-filled inn offers guests bespoke guest rooms and suites with world-class amenities, European continental breakfasts, live music in a lovingly-restored amphitheater, and so much more.

149 Cordova StSt. Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 209-5800

Bayfront Marin House Historic Inn

If you want to be right on the waterfront then you can’t beat the Bayfront Marin House, the #1 rated waterfront hotel in St. Augustine. Located in the heart of the historic district right across from Matanzas Bay, the hotel offers guests elegant accommodations with spectacular views of the Bridge of Lions and romantic St. Augustine lighthouse. If you’re lucky, you may spot some dolphins in the Intracoastal Waterway!

142 Avenida MenendezSt. Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 824-4301

Things to do St Augustine

Things to Do in St. Augustine, Florida

While I definitely think you should make a trip to Marineland a priority, there are some other really fun things to do in St. Augustine:

Walking Ghost Tour of St. Augustine

You really can’t, or at least shouldn’t, visit St. Augustine without going on at least one of the many awesome ghost tours. This walking tour is very fun and you’ll learn about some of the city’s most noteworthy hauntings. You’ll hunt for ghosts in some of the most reportedly haunted locations, including two cemeteries. But don’t worry, your costumed host uses a lot of humor, so the experience isn’t too scary, making it a good choice for those with children. The entire tour from start to finish takes approximately 2 hours.

12 St. George StreetSt. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 827-0807

Medieval Torture Museum

The “Medieval Torture Museum” is a completely unique experience. The museum is the largest interactive historical museum in the United States, occupying more than 6,000 square feet. On display are over 100 unique implements and devices that have been used throughout history to inflict pain and misery on those who dared to go up against madman and tyrants. If you are brave enough to look into the darkest parts of humanity, then spending an afternoon here will be eye-opening.

100 St George StSt. Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 373-7777

St. Augustine Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour

There really is so much to see and do around this lovely city and one of the easiest ways to discover its charms is with the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour. First of all, riding on a trolley is just really fun. You can listen to your guide tell you all about the historic landmarks as the sea breeze kisses your skin. The entire duration of this trip is an hour and a half. During the tour you’ll see popular sites like the Old Jail, Potter’s Wax Museum, the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, Castillo de San Marcos, Flagler College, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and more.

167 San Marco AveSt. Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 829-3800

St Augustine FL weather

Weather

If you’re like a lot of people, you have a hard time planning the perfect vacation for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons being getting the weather just right. No one likes waiting all year for their two-week vacation, only to find themselves trapped in their hotel room because it’s raining for days. This is especially unpleasant when you are traveling with kids.

Florida is called the Sunshine State and that’s because the sun does shine there a good portion of the year. But that doesn’t mean that it never rains or storms, because it does. And when it does, you really don’t want to be there.

So when is the best time to visit Florida, specifically northern Florida where St. Augustine is located? Well, the area’s average temperature is a high of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) and an average low of 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). This means that the summer months are more comfortable in St. Augustine than they are in southern cities like Orlando and Miami. In those states, winter is a more comfortable time of year to visit. But some may find the winter months too chilly in St. Augustine.

Of course, we can’t talk about any part of Florida without discussing hurricane season. Florida’s hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th. Hurricanes aren’t as common as you may think, but they still occur. Since St. Augustine is in the Northern region of the state, most hurricanes become tropical depressions by the time they reach the region. Having said this, while a tropical depression isn’t going to ruin infrastructure, it can still ruin your vacation.

Your best bet is to either avoid coming to Florida in the summer months. Or if that’s not an option, just be sure to book with a hotel that offers a hurricane guarantee or taking out travel insurance.

Spring in St. Augustine is the ideal time to visit. By mid-March the temperatures are beginning to warm up nicely without becoming too hot. Rain is moderate during spring, so you don’t have to worry about it ruining your vacation.

If you can’t make your trip in the spring, then late fall (after hurricane season ends) and winter are the next best time to come.

Festivals& More!

VisitingMarineland in St. Augustine Beach is a must and I’ve also shared a few other really cool attractions in the city. But there are still so many cool things going on at any given time. From sporting events to festivals, concerts and other outdoor festivities, St. Augustine, Florida truly offers something for everyone.

If you want to plan your vacation around any kind of big event or festival that may be going on, you can visit this link to view the activities calendar and get an idea of the fun waiting for you and your family.

Helpful Travel Links

To help you plan your vacation, please visit the following websites, which may offer you information that can help you plan better.

Chamber of Commerce

St. Augustine, Florida Official Visitor Site

Vacations only come around once a year, so be sure to make yours as memorable as possible. Luckily that will be easy if you’re headed to St. Augustine, Florida. Between the rich history and vibrant local culture, the spooky ghosts and gorgeous backdrop, St. Augustine offers something remarkable for everyone.

Be sure you make some time to visit Marineland to swim with the dolphins. I promise, you and your family will make memories that will last a lifetime!

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