The legend of a mystical well flowing with the waters of immortality is one that stretches back to the time of the Greeks, and the story of explorer Juan Ponce de León setting off to find it—and in the process finding Florida —is the one that has captured imaginations in the New World since the 16th century.
St. Augustine ’s Fountain of Youth (11 Magnolia Ave., 904/829-3168, www.fountainofyouthflorida.com , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $7.50 adults, $6.50 seniors, $4.50 children, children 5 and under free), about three miles north of Old Town , unabashedly plays off that fascination. Legend has it that the park is located at the site where Ponce de León first landed in Florida, and although there is a fountain there—you can drink from it, but I wouldn’t—the park goes to great lengths never to state explicitly that it is the actual font from which eternal youth springs (but wouldn’t mind if you made such assumptions yourself).
The kitschy nature of the park—it was founded in 1904 by Luella Day McConnell, who, no kidding, was known as “Diamond Lil”—is more playful than deceitful, with strolling peacocks, creaky animatronic figures, and a black-light globe. The park gamely attempts to make up for its archaeological shortcomings with displays of artifacts from the colonial and pre-Columbian eras, and though there aren’t tours, you can listen to a lecture about the area’s history.