The First Coast of Florida harbors once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. Some people dream of swimming in the ocean for the first time. Others long to see where American history began. Because of the area's rich history and abundant natural beauty, a trip to Amelia Island, Jacksonville and St. Augustine is definitely one for the books. Splashing into the surf on horseback, ziplining over alligators, climbing a lighthouse, encountering a ghost, drinking from the Fountain of Youth ...just wait until your Facebook friends see what you've been up to.
For more than 20 years, Debbie Manser and guides have been offering visitors the vacation experience of a lifetime. Amelia Island Horseback Riding trailers their horses to Peters Point Beach Front Park where visitors ride on the beach and even into the Atlantic Ocean during their one-hour tour.
Jacksonville’s beaches are a varied lot — from the residential and reserved Atlantic Beach to the more commercial and high-rise oriented Jacksonville Beach. And don’t forget Neptune Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach. For a sense of what the beaches were like “back in the day,” stroll the streets of Atlantic and Neptune beaches.
One of the country's first zoos houses all 23 species of crocodilians. The shaded park features raised wooden boardwalks through exhibits of exotic birds, monkeys and humongous alligators and crocodiles. Zipline through the trees over gator-infested waters. A playground, gift shop and restaurant are on site.
Be one of the few to experience the St. Augustine Lighthouse at night. The Dark of the Moon paranormal tour is the only tour with access inside the lighthouse. Learn the real history behind the paranormal events that take place here. Adults $25, children $20 (and must be at least 44 inches to climb the tower).
Several tours depart daily from Fernandina Harbor Marina including Cumberland Island, family sunset cruises, adult BYOB cruises and eco-tours. Learn about the area's history and spot wildlife like otters, dolphins and even wild horses. Prices range from $16-$24 for children and $22-$32 for adults.
Billed as the oldest saloon in Florida and outfitted with a pressed-tin ceiling and a 40-ft. long mahogany bar, the bar once hosted the Carnegies and the du Ponts. Order the Pirate’s Punch, the “famous” rum drink, and enjoy live entertainment most evenings, ranging from rock ’n’ roll to acoustic.