Metro Jacksonville compiles a list of things to do and see in the beaches communities.
A state-of-the-art gallery showcasing modern and emerging artists. Drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints and a multitude of mixed multimedia artwork are proudly on display at this Jacksonville Beach gallery. Hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM and Saturdays noon to 5 PM .http://www.jacksonvillebeach.org/visitors/what-do/popular-attractions
2. Players-By-The-Sea Theatre
Located on it was voted 'Best Community Theater' in Best of Jax 2011.
3. Beaches Museum and History Center & Pablo Historical Park
(Our past story on this has more: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-jul-a-blast-into-the-beaches-past).
4. Jarboe Park & Beaches Green Market
This park in Neptune Beach off A1A is a recreational gem, with basketball and tennis courts, a playground, horticulture area, and large open-area space that plays host to a farmer's market on Saturdays from 2-5 p.m.
The Beaches Green Market hosts an array of vendors, with a mission to promote sustainable farming practices and organic living. It is run by the Beaches Local Food Network, which began as a small market and idea by a group of residents.
The Beaches Organic Community Garden. Plots are for rent for a small fee to grow organic vegetables and herbs and are cared for my community members. Guided tours and workshops are offered and a social takes place every Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.
5. Freebird Live & Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
The venue was voted 'Best Live Music Club' in Best of Jax 2011.
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
The former church was renovated into this music and events venue. An events calendar can be found here: http://www.pvconcerthall.com/
6. Mayport Naval Lighthouse
The lighthouse in Mayport (St. Johns River Lighthouse) has rebuilt several times, with the original in 1830. It has been unaccessible for many years, but the landmark is definitely worth a look. It can be viewed in an open area just south of the St. Johns River Ferry. Photo courtesy of Susan Widick.
A 1900 photo of the lighthouse, courtesy of Florida State Archives.
Photo courtesy of golf.about.com
The golf course during The Players Championship, definitely a spectacle to see. Photo courtesy of Ian Andrews.
There's also the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club, Marsh Landing Country Club, and Windsor Parke in the area.
8. 1st Street Jax Beach
The strip is the epicenter of restaurants, bars, retail shops, and open-area park space at the beaches.
The popular Brix Taphouse, with 32 beers on tap and live music.
The most "happening" bar at the beach, Ritz Bar & Cocktail Lounge.
(To check out even more shopping, dining, and strolling in a compact area, head north up A1A to the Beaches Town Center. See more about this in a past article we've done:http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-jul-exploring-the-beaches-town-center
Photo courtesy of Antony Rieck.
The pavilion on a lively night, light up right along the beach. Photo courtesy of Jacksonville CVB.
In the heart of Jacksonville Beach, overlooking the ocean and covering 2 square blocks, looms Jax Beaches' best idea yet: the Seawalk Pavilion and festival grounds. Starting in early spring, festivals of music, food, and fun in the sun continue throughout the summer and into the fall. Originally conceived to attract more people to the beach, festivals would begin on Friday and continue through Saturday and Sunday. After many complaints from local businesses about festival goers clogging up traffic and only patronizing the businesses at the festival, city council members decided they dont need to attract more people to the beaches. They would come naturally. As a consequence, the only three day festival any more is Springin the Blues, but it is a good one!http://jaxbeach-pier.com/festivals.php
9. Adventure Landing
The family fun amusement park has a mini golf course, waterpark, go-kart track, batting cages, laser tag, arcade, and more. It is located beachside on Beach Blvd. just over the bridge (or just before if coming from the beach).
More info at: http://www.adventurelanding.com/parks/jacksonville-beach/home/
10. Huguenot Memorial Park
Park amenities include campsites, a bird observation area, swimming, surfing, fishing, and a boat launch area. The park is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. It is open seven days a week at 8 a.m., closing at 8 p.m. April-Oct. and at 6 p.m. Nov.-March. Fees are 8 - 10 a.m.: $1 per person and 10 a.m. - close: $3 per car with up to six persons; $1 each additional person. It is $10 to camp via tent, $15 for RV.
*Visiting the park: The park is located at 10980 Heckscher Drive. You can get there via the Dames Point bridge, or just hop on the St. Johns River ferry in Mayport. (A schedule can be found at: http://www.stjohnsriverferry.com/schedule.html).
11. Big and Little Talbot Island State Parks
These two designated 'state park partner preserves' are also located on Heckscher Drive. They are primarily natural parks, made up of mostly trails and sightseeing spots. However, amenities do include a boat ramp and waterways for canoes and kayaks.
Big Talbot Island: The area is a tower of bluffs, making for exceptional views and spots for picnics.
Little Talbot Island: Unlike its big, this park invites campers with full-facility grounds, picnic areas, and fishing spots.
12. The Beach
The Beach was voted 'Best Reason to Love Northeast Florida' in Best of Jax 2011.
The boardwalk is a long stretch of attractive sights.
It's also popular in the evenings, as several oceanfront restaurants open out to the boardwalk.
*Rent Beach Stuff is the go-to provider of all things beach accommodation. They deliver and pick up for free. They offer beach cruiser bikes, surf and boogie boards, kayaks, beach chairs and umbrellas, and a variety of beach sporting equipment.
The Jacksonville Beach Pier is ideal for taking in great views of the coastline and watching surfers and vessels alike. There is a $1 fee to take a walk down the quarter of the mile above the Atlantic Ocean.
The surf community in the area is a longtime one, making up the cultural undercut of the town.
A typical day out under the Jacksonville Beach Pier, voted 'Best Surf Spot' in Best of Jax 2011. Photo courtesy of insideflorida.com
The Poles in Mayport is a secret haven for local surfers. Photo courtest of surfjaxpier.com
Inshore and Offshore fishing are both popular activities in North Florida. Check out the Pier, scope out guided expertise, take a charter, or mosey over to the Mayport Jetties. The Atlantic Ocean was voted 'Best Fishing Spot' in Best of Jax 2011.
The pier is also the ideal spot for fishing; admission is $4 and is open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Photo courtesy of insideflorida.com
There're plenty more outdoor recreational activities to take advantage of at the beach, including boating, scuba diving, and parasailing.
Spending one day or a few out at the beaches welcomes new adventures and a plethora of choices. Whether with the family, as a couple, or with friends, there really is something for everybody. It makes for a perfect day trip, or even a little "staycation" with a night ending at Casa Marina Hotel, One Ocean Resort, or any of the beachfront hotels. The Beaches Trolley makes it easy to get from one place to the next for a well-rounded experience. And if all the walking, eating, and drinking hasn't worn you out by the end of the day, take to really letting loose with a spankin' new tattoo at one of the several premier shops in the U.S. along the beaches.
*If you think we missed some of the best public parks and natural environments, we haven't. We have stories coming up soon on Hanna Park, the Atlantic Beach public parks (9), and all the other beaches area parks, so no need to chime on it.
Folio Weekly's Best of Jax Winners 2011 descriptions: http://www.folioweekly.com/folio1011wkl013.php
Article by Sarah Gojekian.