Tag Archives: Free

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

Go to the Beach

A fellow blogger recently wrote, “We all live in great places”.  While this is so true, it is also a fact that many times we forget about the treasures  in our area.  For example, every day people from all across the country travel hundreds of miles to see what is 30 minutes from my front door – the Atlantic Ocean.

Residents of one of our beach communities – Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, or Ponte Vedra – can usually be seen enjoying the amenities at the beach.  But for those living West of the Intracoastal Waterway, when was the last time you went to the ocean?  Was it weeks, months, perhaps  years ago?

Jacksonville is happily not a major tourist destination, and too cold in the winter for “snowbirds” from the North.  Our many beautiful beaches are mostly for us to enjoy for ourselves.  So, pick a destination and drive East!

P.S.  I’m very embarrassed that my doggie, a 5 year-old  American Eskimo who loves the water, has never seen the ocean.  So this weekend, I am going back  to the beach and bringing Kaylee with me.  Check back.  When you see her picture at the end of this blog, you will know I’ve kept my promise.

Here she is on July 25th.  (Yes, it took me 2 1/2 weeks to do). Kaylee is not too sure about this, and was ready to go home after a few minutes.  But she did enjoy making friends with the other beach goers!

July 4th Fireworks

Happy 4th of July!  If fireworks are in your plans, there’s no better place to see them than downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

Fireworks can be viewed from both the Northbank and the Southbank.  Come early, as both the Acosta and Main Street bridges will be closed during the display.  You may also come by boat; docking will be first come, first serve.  Both the JTA Skyway and the Marine Taxi will be running this evening.

Other activities to enjoy while you’re waiting for the sun to go down:

Live Entertainment:    Jacksonville Landing

First Wednesday Art Walk – Americana:   Hemming Plaza

More information is available at http://downtownjacksonville.org.  Have a safe and fun-filled 4th!


Walk historic St George Street in St Augustine

It’s 4th of July week and St Augustine, our nation’s oldest city,  is bustling with activity.  Let’s join the fun!

Starting at the Castille de San Marco National Historic Monument (more commonly referred to as “the fort”), it’s only a short walk to  St George Street.

City Gates

Shopping on St. George St

Inside the City Gates, you’ll  find quaint shops, trendy restaurants, historic buildings, street musicians and more.

Milltop Tavern

The old schoolhouse was built over 200 years ago when Florida was under the rule of imperial Spain.  The Mill Wheel, powered by an artesian well, was once a grist mill.  It is now the Milltop Tavern.

Street Musician

Enjoy samples at Pizza Alley, and be sure to stop for a gelato at Cafe del Hidalgo.  Vine del Grotto offers a tasty selection of Florida tropical fruit wines.

Performers and street musicians add to the festive atmosphere.  There is so much to see and do – just a 30 minute drive from Jacksonville,  Florida!


Memorial Weekend Events

There are many exciting events in and around Jacksonville,  Florida this Memorial Day weekend!  Here are just a few:


Jacksonville Jazz Festival
May 25-27
Downtown Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is a weekend of jazz that’s the “2nd largest jazz festival in the nation”, and it is FREE!
Saturday highlights include Patti Austin with our own Jacksonville Symphony.  The final day, Sunday features Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.
A complete schedule may be found at makingascenedowntown.com/Events.
Florida Folk Festival
May 25-27, 2012
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
The Florida Folk Festival is a 3 day celebration of the music, dance, stories, craft and food that make Florida unique.  More than 300 performances give voice and meaning to Florida’s heritage.  If you like Florida folk life and culture, great music and food, and relaxing by the Suwanee River under a canopy of oak trees, then this may be the place you need to be this weekend!
Schedule, directions and ticket information are available at floridastateparks.org/folkfest.
Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival
May 13 – June 8
Continuing through June 8th, the nationally acclaimed Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival features internationally acclaimed talent.  Performances are held in a variety of intimate venues from churches, to the Palace Saloon, a courthouse, and historic Fort Clinch.

The music is as varied as the venues – traditional string ensembles, vocalists, fiddlers, guitar, and more.
Christopher Rex, principle cellist with the Atlanta Symphony is the Artistic Director.  Ticket prices range from $20 to $50, but a number of the performances are free.  This festival is a gem – please don’t miss it!
A complete schedule and more information at aicmf.com.
Jacksonville Symphony
Finally, our Jacksonville Symphony will be very busy this holiday weekend with concerts at Sawgrass TPC (Friday),  the Jacksonville Jazz Festival (Saturday),  Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club (Sunday), and Fernandina Beach (Monday).
The Memorial Day concert “Let Freedom Ring” will be at the 1st Baptist Church in Fernandina at 7:00 pm.  Tickets are $20 and include music by Sousa, Copland, and the rousing 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky.  Concert information may be found on their website at JaxSymphony.org.

Visit the Olde Mandarin Corner Market

Olde Mandarin Store & Post Office

Open on alternating Sundays from noon until 4:00 pm, the Olde Mandarin Corner Market is located on the grounds of the Mandarin Community Club at 12447 Mandarin Road (corner of Mandarin Rd and Brady Rd).  There, you will find free admission and parking, local artisans, the Book Exchange, great food, and fresh produce.

While you are strolling the grounds, just as Harriet Beecher Stowe and other residents of yesteryear, be sure to visit the Old Mandarin Store  and Post Office.  The original proprietor was Walter Jones, and the store and post office were the hub of village social life from 1911 until it closed in 1964.

There are 3 more dates to enjoy this free Mandarin event before it closes for the summer: May 20th, June 3rd, and June 17th.  For more information, visit their website at Olde Mandarin Corner Market.

See you there!

Hike the Willie Browne Trail in the Theodore Roosevelt Area

No, we’re not talking about taking a trip to the Dakotas.  The Theodore Roosevelt Area is located right here in the East Arlington neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida.  It is a 600 acre treasure of hardwood forest, wetlands, and scrub vegetation.

The land was once owned by Willie Browne, who lived his entire life in a small cabin on the property.  Though real estate developers offered him millions of dollars, Willie refused to sell.  Instead, in 1969, Willie donated all his land to the Nature Conservancy and requested that the property be named for his hero, former President Theodore Roosevelt. Thank you, Willie, for your gift to future generations!

  “I want this place saved,” Willie said.  “So you can come see God.”

Visitors today can experience miles of wooded trails, vast grassland, and panoramic marsh views.  Ancient piles of discarded oyster shells give clues to an extinct Timucuan culture.  Pillars from the Browne cabin and the Browne family cemetery are on the property.

Helpful hints: The entrance is at 13165 Mt Pleasant Road, just across from the Fort Caroline National Monument. Parking, facilities, and trail maps are at the entrance. Bring insect repellent!
For more information, visit the National Park Timucuan Preserve website.

Shop at the Riverside Arts Market

Situated under the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge is Jacksonville’s premier arts market.  You can find anything here – handmade soaps, farm fresh organic produce, exotic plants, street performers, great food, and more!

Best of all, admission is free, with plenty of parking within walking distance.  A great way to enjoy a beautiful Jacksonville Saturday!

The Riverside Arts Market is open every Saturday March to December from 10:00am to 4:00pm.  For more information and to see who will be performing this Saturday, visit their website at RiversideArtsMarket.com.

Enjoy a Quiet Stroll at Walter Jones Historical Park

A visit to Walter Jones Historical Park is like a trip back to Old Florida.  The 11 acre riverfront park is filled with historical treasures, including a 19th century restored farmhouse, barn, sawmill, winery and museum.

The Webb Farmhouse was built in 1875 for Major William Webb, a retired United States Army officer, and was later the home of Walter Jones, proprietor of the Mandarin Store and Post Office.  It has been restored to its turn of the century appearance.

The park is definitely a nice spot to have a picnic in.  There is a wide paved walkway through shaded trails, a riverfront boardwalk, and a long pier extending into the St. Johns River.  Facilities include picnic pavilions with grills.  The museum and farmhouse are open on Saturdays and by appointment.

The park is located on Mandarin Road, one block north of Loretto and is operated by the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society.  The Society also presents a number of popular programs and festivals throughout the year.  For more information, visit their website at http://mandarinmuseum.net.

Take a Sally Tour in Jacksonville

Remember the dark rides and haunted houses at the county fair?  Well, did you know that many of those rides are made right here in Jacksonville, Florida?  Since 1977, Sally Corporation’s dark rides, haunted house, musical shows, and life-like human and animal animatronics have delighted guests at parks and attractions all around the world.
The main production facility employs about 40 artists, designers, technicians and managers.  Everything is under one roof.  Sally customers are located from Orlando, Florida, to Bangkok, Thailand.
Public tours are offered each Tuesday and Thursday, except July and August, to both groups and individuals.  Tours are free, but a reservation is required, and there is a minimum age of 7.  I attended a tour with a class of elementary students, who were enthralled throughout the tour.

What a fun place to work! I enthusiastically recommend this tour for all ages.
Sally Corporation is the colorful building located at 74 W. Forsyth Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32204 (near the Convention Center).  You may call them at 904.355.7100 or visit their website at www.SallyCorp.com for more information.