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Florida Attractions, North

North Florida attractions tend to be on the smaller side -- things you can do in an hour or two, maybe half a day. There are two exceptions, but for the most part, kick back and relax - that's what vacations are for, right? I'll start in the north with Jacksonville, and then move southward through St. Augustine.

North Florida Attractions are best visited anytime but the heat of the summer (except for the water park). June, July and August are hot, steamy and crowded. On the other hand, outside of the hot summer months, the weather is milder and the crowds fewer. So you can take your time with the attractions, and not feel like you're in a herd.

(Before we start, here's a piece of trivia for you -- North Florida contains the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States - St. Augustine.)

  • Adventure Landing: This is an amusement complex in Jacksonville. There are actually two of them, one out east, towards the beach, and one west of the river. A water park (Jacksonville Beach only), miniature golf, laser tag, arcade, rollercoaster simulator, go carts, etc. Haven't been there, but it strikes me as being a better place for kids than a kids-and-grownups kind of place. Still, some people are young at heart! Jacksonville Beach, FL (904) 246-4386. Jacksonville, FL (904) 771-2803

  • Alligator Farm and Zoological Park: If you like humongous, come see Maximo! He's a crocodile over 15 feet long, and well over half a ton. And don't forget to see the albino alligators - legend has it that gazing at one brings good luck. All kinds of shows and exhibits.  I really enjoyed my day at the Aliigator Farm -- I never knew how many kinds of alligators and crocodiles there were!  But I do recommend something -- go to this attraction in the cooler months.  The alligators don't use deodorant, if you know what I mean.  St. Augustine, FL (904) 824-3337

  • Potter's Wax Museum: I enjoyed this attraction. There are all kinds of wax figures (over 160 at last count) -- some you can tell are wax, some you swear are people in a costume being very still. It's a great place to spend a couple of hours on a hot summer day. St. Augustine, FL (904) 829-9056

  • Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum: I really think that the name says it all! Still, I'd recommend a visit -- there are all manner of weird and wonderful things in the museum. St. Augustine, FL (904) 824-1606

  • Sightseeing Trains: The way to see St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city. 80 points of interest on 7-mile tour with stop off and on privileges at attractions. Haven't done this yet, keep meaning to -- looks like it might be a nice tour. St. Augustine, FL 32084 (904) 829-6545

  • Fountain of Youth: Yes, the fountain of youth that Ponce de Leon was searching for, all those many years ago. Is it really the one? You'll just have to go and find out. This is definitely an "educational attraction", but still worth seeing (feed the mind). St. Augustine, FL (904) 829-3168

  • Horse-drawn Carriages, St. Augustine: Take a 2-mile tour around old St. Augustine the old-fashioned way - in a horse-drawn carriage!  No reservations that I could tell, but you can catch up with one on San Marco, just a little east of Castillo de San Marco (also known as "the Fort").  They aren't exactly cheap ($85 per buggy which seats roughtly 4), but they are a leisurely way to view the Old City.

  • Marineland of Florida: Is finally open again, after a long closing for renovations. Originally established in 1937, it's probably one of the oldest attractions in the state, so it was about time for an update. All kinds of new shows! Between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, FL (800) 824-4218

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