ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE – Covering Anastasia Island and Nearby Areas
By LORRAINE THOMPSONÂ
Membership has its privileges: Now that autumn is trying to settle in, the weather is cooling, going to the beaches is not as appealing, itâ€™s a great time to check out other Anastasia Island attractions.
When was the last time you visited Anastasia State Park, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, or the St. Augustine Alligator Farm? And for that matter, have you been to Marineland in recent years?â€
All within a 15 mile radius, each of these attractions charge entrance and other fees, which can take a toll on your budget.
Butâ€”did you knowâ€”there are ways to lower your costs by taking advantage of â€œmembershipsâ€ that are good for a full year?
For what itâ€™s worthâ€”
Anastasia State Parkâ€”1340-A State Road A1A South on Anastasia Island, offers more than 1,600 acres featuring four miles of pristine beach, a tidal salt marsh, and a maritime and upland hammock. Visitors can enjoy camping, beachcombing, swimming, picnicking, fishing, windsurfing, hiking, wildlife viewing, boating and more. A self-guided nature trailÂ takes hikers through a maritime hammock on ancient sand dunes, and anglers have the opportunity to haul in the big catch.Â Anastasia Watersports rents canoes, sailboards, paddleboats and kayaks.
Admission to the park is $8 per vehicle for 2 to 8 occupants. BUTâ€”by joining the Friends of Anastasia State Park you receive 12 free admissions good for a full year. Individual/family annual memberships are $25 which cuts your entry costs down to a little more than $2 per visit. Although the Friends group does hold meetings, you are not required to attend.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, 999 Anastasia Blvd., on Anastasia Island, is one of Florida’s oldest continuously running attractions, having opened May 20, 1893. It has 23 species of crocodilians, a variety of other reptiles, mammals and birds and features special exhibits, animal performances, educational demonstrations and a zip line across the park.
General admission is $22.95 for ages 12 and over; $11.95 for children ages 3 to 11; and special rates for handicapped adults and children and for the military.
Become an annual member and you have admission to the park 365 days a year, receive discounts at special events and at the gift shop and TonCantina, and receive a quarterly newsletter.
Membership rates are $99.95 for a family (two adults in the same household and dependent children under 16); grandparents membership $89.95 for two adults in the same household and grandchildren under 16; individual membership $69.95. The rates include free parking.
For membership and other information visit www.alligatorfarm.com or call 904-824-3337.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museumâ€”also on Anastasia Island at 81 Lighthouse Ave., provides an unsurpassed view of St. Augustine and the beaches from atop the 165-feet above sea level watchtower. Getting there, however, is half the funâ€”or the battleâ€”since the only way to reach the top is by climbing 219 stairs. Replacing the original Spanish watchtower, which was built in the early 1500s, the current lighthouse was completed in 1874. On the lighthouse grounds, visitors can view the watch keeperâ€™s house which serves as a museum of maritime archeology and shipwrecks and which documents the lives of keepers and their families, and examines the role of the Coast Guard during World War II.
Note: Children shorter than 44 inches tall are not permitted up the tower. Children must climb the steps themselves. Parents are not permitted to carry children up the stairs.
General admission for self-guided tours is $9.95 per adult, $7.95 per senior and children under 12. Children under 44 inches tall are admitted free to the museum. Parking is free.
Lighthouse memberships offer free entrance and a number of added discounts. The annual memberships are available at $30 for a single membership to $40 for a grandparents package, $50 and $100 for family and family-plus memberships.Â All memberships offer unlimited admission, $5.00 off of tours and events, subscription to Spyglass museum magazine, 20% discount on all museum store purchases (full price items only), invitations to special members-only events, Federal tax deduction, and 50% discount on admission to Bok Tower Gardens and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. In addition, the grandparents and family memberships provide unlimited admission for members and their grandchildren under age 18 and a Lighthouse summer camp discount (per child).
For membership information visit the Lighthouse gift shop, www.staugustinelighthouse.org, or call (904) 829-0745.
Marineland Dolphin Adventure, 9600 Oceanshore Blvd., just south of Anastasia Island across the Matanzas River Bridge on A1A South, does not offer direct annual memberships, however, hereâ€™s a tip that could save you money, especially if you are a frequent visitor to Atlanta, Ga.
Marineland is part of the Georgia Aquarium family which does offer annual memberships that include complimentary general admission to the Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine.
Pay at the door at Marineland. The rate is $11.95 for adults ages 13 and above; $6.95 for children ages 3013; $10.95 for seniors 60+.
However, purchase a Georgia Aquarium annual membership and the rate is $69.95 for an adult; $52.95 for a child; and $58.95 for a senior. Taxes are extra.
Parking is free.
This membership includes not only year-round admission to the famed Atlanta aquarium, but also offers complimentary general admission to the Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine.
Visit www.georgiaaquarium.org for annual membership information or call Marineland at (904) 471-1111.
Hint–Even if youâ€™re not interested in memberships for yourself, they do make great gifts.