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There are a number of interesting experiences around Jacksonville that you may or may not know about. Here are some tips for anyone looking to be adventurous or explore some new areas around this gorgeous city.
The beaches are beautiful and there are exquisite golf courses around every corner. You could catch a game at the home of the NFL Jaguars or spend hours shopping at Jacksonville’s endless variety of boutiques and outlet shops. For the night owls, Jacksonville has a handful of the best restaurants and evening activities in the nation.
The first place I recommend checking out is the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, located at 370 Zoo Parkway. This happens to be the only zoo in the north eastern part of Florida so it gets quite crowded but it is worth the experience. Unlike some zoos you may have been to, the Jacksonville Zoo is well kept and very open. They have a train ride that goes around the zoo which is fun for all ages but especially the kids. This zoo, like most, is filled with your favorite exotic animals including elephants, giraffes, and gorillas. I strongly recommend coming here if you are visiting Jacksonville with children.
One of the greatest places in Jacksonville is also one of the most historic - the San Marco District near downtown Jacksonville. You can find wonderful clubs and theatres here including the San Marco Theatre which has been running since 1938 and continues to entertain. There are many shops to check out. The boulevard has festivals and art exhibits going on year round. For more historic fun you can head over to the Veterans Memorial Wall to give tribute to our veterans. Or check out some of the parks and national trails around the city. You could spend a few hours hiking around on paths to get some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful landscape.
If you wanted to continue your shopping extravaganza, you need to head over to St. Johns Town Center on River City Drive. This mall is outdoors so you get a nice cool breeze while you do your shopping. With over 1 million square feet of restaurants, boutiques, and retail outlets, the Town Center is an easy place to spend a full day walking around, visiting the different shops. For dinner check out one of the many delicious restaurants in the mall such as Maggiano’s Little Italy for some authentic italian cuisine and atmosphere. If you wanted something a little more beachy, check out Bahama Breeze to try their Caribbean food and tropical drinks! A local favorite is the Barbados Rum Punch with fresh lime and passion fruit juice.
For a nice relaxing experience take a riverboat ride down the St. Johns River for a watery view of the many attractions downtown. Check out Jacksonville Landing which is the best place to stop along the river. This mini-mall hosts a ton of stores and diners along with some breathtaking scenery. There are live bands playing that can be quite good! Typically I would recommend coming here at night or on the weekends for a drink or just for a romantic date. The Fourth of July celebration is quite an awesome experience. There is live music in the Courtyard and at night a beautiful show of fireworks on the river.
On any day but Monday, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art on North Laura Street. They have beautiful paintings and works from several eras. Each beautiful collection of pieces will leave you impressed for a long time even after leaving the museum. To make the experience even BETTER, pair this with a tour of the Budweiser Brewery on Busch Drive and learn how Budweiser makes its beer. This is a great way to wind down the day and afterwards you can hang out at the beach. Atlantic Beach has free parking and it is probably the nicest beach in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Beach is another great place to go but it tends to be a little more crowded. If you do happen to find yourself near Jacksonville Beach you MUST go to Angie’s Subs on Beach Boulevard. These are hands-down the best subs in Jacksonville and possibly in Florida. Not only is it a great place for sandwiches, they also offer a full menu including salads and beer. I’d even go so far as to say you’ll be back again for more later!
Florida is also home to a few wonderful universities. The University of North Florida (Go Ospreys!) has a beautiful campus and even offers free lectures if you check out their website to get a ticket. The college has a number of different sports and games that go on year round, so if you are just in the mood for checking out some live sporting events head over to the campus. If you are planning on moving to Jacksonville or just visiting, be sure to check out some of the places mentioned above.
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