Happy July 4th! There’s lots of activities, starting this evening. Tonight, the River City Band Satin Swing will perform an outdoor patriotic concert in the Cummer Museum Gardens. Bring a chair or blanket. Admission is $10 for members; $20 non-members. To make a reservation (required), call 904-899-6004.
This Saturday from 10-4, enjoy free Cummer admission, compliments of the Weaver family. While you’re there, take a moment to walk next door to the Riverside Arts Market, or check out Community First Saturday downtown.
Family-friendly activities begin downtown at 4:00 July 4th at at Jacksonville Landing and continue along the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks. At 9:45 a spectacular fireworks show will light up downtown. For more information, visit the City of Jacksonville website.
Fireworks also return to the beach! Stars and Stripes at the Seawalk feature fireworks and a free concert by Craig Campbell. For more information, visit JacksonvilleBeach.org.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority Trolleys offer flexibility in getting around Downtown, Riverside and the Beaches. Fares are $1.50
The Riverside Trolley route runs from downtown Jacksonville to Riverside and back. Stops include Hemming Plaza, Jacksonville Landing, Memorial Park, and Riverside Park.
The Beaches Trolley runs North and South along A1A from Atlantic Beach to Ponte Vedra. Stops include Atlantic Village, Hugenot Park, Jacksonville Beach City Hall, South Beach Parkway Shopping Center, and South Beach Regional Shopping Center.
Fall is in the air, and with the change in season, there is much to do in Jacksonville, Florida. Many newcomers are surprised to learn that we don’t spend all our time at the beach in the Sunshine State, and that we have many varied cultural events in our vibrant city.
Today, I would like to focus on two of my favorite chamber music/recital series: the Riverside Fine Arts Series and the Beaches Fine Arts Series.
The Riverside Fine Arts Series opens its Concert Series Friday, October 12th, at 8:00 with Julian Lage, guitarist. November events include the Bohemian Quartet, November 16th, and the Empire Brass, November 29th. Enjoy world-class music in an intimate atmosphere at the Church of the Good Shepherd in historic Riverside. Tickets are $25 with season discounts available.
The Riverside Fine Arts Organ Series opens this Thursday, October 11th, at 7:30 p.m. with Felix Hell performing with the Jacksonville Symphony in Jacoby Hall.
In 1972, the Beaches Fine Arts Series began offering world class music and dance in a series of 8 free programs annually. Most concerts are held at the stunning St. Paul’s-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Upcoming performances include the American Boy Choir, Sunday November 21st at 4:30 and the American Brass Quintet, Friday November 9th at 7:30 p.m.
There’s even a reception after each of the Riverside Fine Arts Series and the Beaches Fine Arts Series performances, where you can meet and greet the performers, enjoy visual art work from regional artists, and perhaps pick up an autographed CD!
The St. Johns River Ferry is a daily ferry service between Fort George Island and Mayport Village. If you are driving along A1A, taking the ferry across the St. Johns River will save you 24 miles over driving across the Dames Point Bridge.
Did you know the ferry has been operating since 1874? There are not too many ferries left in the USA, and we are fortunate to have one right here. Taking the ferry is a great way to begin an outing to one of the Talbot Island State Parks or to the town of Fernandina.
Not only are there awesome views, but if you are fortunate, you may have the opportunity to meet BJ, one of the ferry’s most popular employees. After loading all the cars on board, BJ personally greats the passengers, posing for pictures and brightening everyone’s day with his joy and humor. When the couple near me asked him to take their picture and then kissed, he exclaimed loudly: “Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t the love boat, you know”! Then, as we approached Mayport, BJ ran to tie up the ferry and direct cars off before loading a new group on.
If you go: The ferry operates approximately every half hour. Fares at the time of this writing are $5 for cars, $3 for cyclists, and $1 for pedestrians. More information at the St Johns River Ferry website.
A sign in front of Crazy Fish restaurant in Jacksonville Beach reads “Food, Fishing, Fun, Water sports and more“. Today, I decided to start the weekend a few hours early and take a pontoon boat tour to see the dolphin.
Mike was a great guide. We all learned a lot while enjoying the comfortable boat and Intracoastal breeze. I never realized that dolphin lived in the Intracoastal Waterway. And did you know that dolphin see with x-ray vision?
We observed about a dozen dolphin right by the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge, as well as great blue heron, egrets and sea gulls. But taking their picture is easier said than done!
Crazy Fish also offers airboat rides, river boat eco-tours, charter fishing trips, and kayak rentals. And before you leave, be sure to enjoy some Florida fresh seafood at their Key West themed restaurant, open for lunch and dinner. More information may be found at CrazyFishJax.com.
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.
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!