Category Archives: Parks & Recreation

Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a beautiful place to take a short hike or spend a couple hours enjoying nature.

Here is a link to a short tour:


Music Under the Oaks

Calling all acoustic players – there’s a new event going on at the Walter Jones Historical Park.  On the 4th Sunday of every month, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm,  come join your neighbors for an informal sing-along on the front porch of the Museum.  The gathering is hosted by the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society in partnership with the North Florida Folk Network, and will run through October.

When I attended last Sunday (without my guitar, ukelele, or dulcimer), the group had just moved inside due to the threat of rain and was happily singing “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore”.  So dust off that instrument and join in.  See you next month!

Sing-along in the Mandarin Museum

Foto Friday

Cancer Survivors Park features scale replicas of each of Jacksonville’s bridges over a pond shaped like the St. Johns River.  This unusual urban park is located on the downtown campus of Florida State College of Jacksonville.

Foto Friday

Out of Africa?  Nope, these graceful giraffes are enjoying living in their natural habitat at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Foto Friday

 Memorial Park is located on Riverside Avenue on the the St. Johns River.  The 5.8 acre property was purchased by the city of Jacksonville in 1919 for a park to honor the 1200 Floridians who died in World War 1.  The bronze sculpture Life was created by the renowned Charles Adrian Pillars (1870-1937).

Today, Memorial Park remains a focal point for historic Riverside and offers a a place for a pleasant stroll, picnic, or just enjoying the St. Johns River views.

Foto Friday

A giraffe approaches a young visitor for food at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Visit the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

An arboretum is a place where trees and other plants are grown and studied.  The Jacksonville Arboretum, a 120 acre urban woodland located just off Monument Road,  is a must-see.

Nearly 3 miles of trails wind through distinct ecological habitats.  You will see Lake Ray, a high bluff, a deep ravine, tall pines, Jones Creek, wetlands, a tidal marsh, upland forests, and more on the 6 trails.  Inviting benches and informational sign posts with QR codes add to the experience.  Many of the native trees and plants throughout the park are labelled, even the poison ivy!

The Arboretum is open from 8:00 to 5:00 daily (7:00 during Daylight Savings).  Admission is free.  Here is a brief tour:

Play VisualTour

Bike the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

The Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, extending 14.5 miles from Imeson Road in Jacksonville to the town of Baldwin,  was  created on an old CSX railroad bed.   There is a 12 ft wide multi-use asphalt trail for biking, hiking, and skating; and adjacent trails for off road bikes and horses.

Much of the trail is tree-shaded, and it is amazingly serene for being located so close to major highways.  You’ll see abundant wildlife as you pass through pine flatwoods and uplands, swamps and wetlands, farms and cornfields.  Several rest areas with benches are provided along the way.

The 29 mile round trip makes a great workout.  Afterwards, stop by Everybody’s Restaurant in Baldwin for some down home country cooking!

Here is a link to a map and more information about the rail trail.

Get Active at Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex

Activities abound at Jacksonville Ice and Sportsflex.  What a happening place!  I arrived around 6:30 on a Saturday evening to a busy parking lot.

Inside, there was an indoor adult soccer game in progress, a ladies roller derby team warming up, a huge ice rink ready to open for teen night, and people of all ages everywhere!

The Sportsplex offers North Florida’s only indoor ice facility, roller skating,  indoor turf for soccer, lacrosse and football, multipurpose class facilities, a pro shop, and concession stand.  There’s youth and adult leagues, “learn to” classes, fencing, $5 family ice skating (Tuesdays), $7 matinee skating and more.  Bring the family, choose an activity and “Just Do It”.

Jacksonville Ice & Sports Complex is located in the Metro Square Office Complex at 3605 Phillips Highway, near Emerson and 95.  See a schedule of events at

Little Talbot Island State Park

Little Talbot Island is one of Northeast Florida’s few remaining barrier islands free of commercial development; the entire island is a state park.  It is located North of where the St. Johns River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, and is connected to the mainland by Route A1A.  A great way to get there is by taking the St. Johns River Ferry.

Little Talbot Island offers 1872 acres, 5 miles of beach, and 2 trails totaling 4.2 miles.  Facilities include 3 bathhouses, boardwalks, boat ramp, a campground (40 sites, all with electricity),  picnic tables and pavilions, a playground and ranger station.  There’s lots to see and do!

A 3.2 mile hiking trail that loops around the northern end leads through a coastal hammock, rambles over dunes, and finally reaches the beach where crowds of gulls and terns provide most of the shoreline activity.

Little Talbot Island is a great place to enjoy our beach without most of the crowds.  If you stay late in the day, be sure to pull West off A1A for beautiful sunset views overlooking Fort George Sound.

If you go:  Pets are not allowed on the beach in any Florida State Park, but leashed dogs are allowed elsewhere in the park.   Nesting sea turtles come up from the beach to lay their eggs; please respect these endangered creatures and avoid disturbing their nests.

Visit the State Park Website for fee schedule.