Marineland Dolphin Adventure is the ideal day trip for the family. Located just south of St. Augustine Beach on A1A, Marineland Dolphin Adventure is filled with theme park sights without the theme park crowds. The self-described “oceanfront playground” has been delighting families since 1938. That is 80 years of rich Florida history allowing people to get an up close and personal view of sea creatures. How personal is up to you, as you can simply view the dolphins, feed, touch, or even swim. Whether you choose to swim with dolphins or opt for a general admission ticket, Marineland is a dazzling day trip for children, both young and old!
Although I visited Marineland several times as a child, I never realized its history in the movie business. The facility began as an underwater film studio and it was featured in many movies such as “Creature of the Black Lagoon” as well at its sequel, and many more. The facility was designed for directors to shoot underwater footage for movies. It wasn’t until the 2000’s that Marineland updated the facility to focus on education and “intimate animal human interactions.” Now, the evolved facility is hard to imagine as anything but the kid-friendly and inspiring education center of today. But Marineland isn’t letting go of the movie business just yet. It is going back to being in movies and will be featured in “Bernie the Dolphin.” But by far, the most fascinating part of Marineland is the opportunity to intimately connect with sea creatures without all the fuss.
Too excited to see the dolphins, most people miss Neptune Park. We visited this section first and explored the Loggerhead sea turtles, sand tiger sharks, and more. The little ones loved running around and viewing the statutes, particularly the shark jaws! The little ones loved viewing the sea turtles most of all. The tanks were designed to give little people a perfect viewing space to see the turtles swimming underwater.
Rarely do most of us see sharks up close, which is why the sand tiger sharks are an incredible sight. From the same order of sharks as the Great White, it is easy to be awed and gain a new appreciation for these marine creatures. Marineland offers a narrated shark feed every day at 10:30 a.m. (except for Thursdays).
Get Intimate With Dolphins
What would Marineland be without dolphins? The little ones couldn’t help but squeal in delight every time the dolphins swam by the viewing tanks. To see such a beloved creature up close but yet swimming underwater is a sight your little one won’t forget anytime soon. What better way to gain an appreciation for Bottlenose dolphins than being face to face with one!
We chose the general admission ticket that gave us the option to explore Marineland at our own pace. However, Marineland offers a few different options for dolphin encounters. These include encounters anywhere from feeding and touching dolphins to getting in the water and actually swimming with dolphins. My son wasn’t quite old enough for the swimming experience, but it is on our bucket list.
Lunch at Captain’s BBQ
No adventure is complete without lunch. To finish ours, we visited Captain’s BBQ for some delicious BBQ. Quick, relaxed vibe, kid-friendly, and located next to a playground, this is a perfect way to end an incredible day.
The playground at Bing’s Landing is nestled under gorgeous trees and vines. It’s varied play structures, climbers, and slides are sure to make any child smile.
Although the playground structure was great, the children’s favorite part of this playground was the fallen tree. It’s unique position brings out your child’s inner Tarzan. Who wouldn’t want to nap in a tree after such an exhausting day!
Whether you are local or not, next time you want a memorable family day trip, look no further than Marineland. Your only regret will be that you didn’t visit sooner!
Know Before You Go:
- Free Parking.
- Most of the facility is outdoors, so dress accordingly.
- Arrive early to avoid crowds and the heat.
- Check the showtimes before you arrive to plan your trip accordingly. We missed the narrated shark feed but hope to see it soon.
- For more information on the Behind The Seas Park Pass, click here.
Looking for more day trip ideas? Checkout Experiencing The Old Sugar Spanish Sugar Mill.