We have a member here, on LuLa, that goes under the handle "-Tom-" that is from Croatia. Try PM or visit his website www.tomislavmavrovic.com
for contact details and, perhaps, inspiration.
I am from former Yougoslavia (Belgrade, Serbia), but had been vacationing along the Adriatic coast pretty regularly in the 70's and 80's. As Larry said, you can't go wrong just by driving and walking around. While knowing a few words of local language is always good, pretty much everybody there speaks a few words of foreign languages as well, mostly German for the older generation and English for the younger.
I have not been there in a while, but I would now spend less time in big, industrial towns (like Split) and more in smaller ones, like Trogir and Hvar.
Good luck, have fun and enjoy!