Since I typically work on Mondays, Carl decided to take Friday off instead of Monday for Martin Luther King Day last week and we planned to do something fun together. When the weather forecast called for rain all day, I scoured the internet for things to do inside in Jacksonville during the day. I found this fun list and decided to save it. There is nothing that I like better than a list with specific goals and attempting to achieve them. And I was pleased to see that I’ve already completed 10 classical Jacksonville moments without even trying!
100 THINGS TO DO IN NORTHEAST FLORIDA BEFORE I CAN’T (in no particular order)
1. Eat at the cafeteria at Flagler College (74 King St., St. Augustine), home to 79 Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows. It’s the world’s largest collection of its kind still in their original location.
2. Be a zookeeper for a day at Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens (or just visit the zoo) (370 Zoo Pkwy., jacksonvillezoo.org), and help clean the anteaters’ night house, feed otters, meet Saki monkeys up close and personal, or help prepare food for gorillas.
3. Order the Steak & Eggs at Salt, a fine-dining joint inside The Ritz-Carlton (4750 Amelia Island Pkwy., Amelia Island). The dish is served on a 250-million-year-old Himalayan salt block.
4. Have your
engagement photo taken at Treaty Oak Park. Everyone else does.
5. Listen to “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” on repeat on March 26. Every March 26. The Allman Brothers Band had their first-ever rehearsal on March 26, 1969, in a house in Riverside. Why is this not a municipal holiday?
6. Visit Kingsley Plantation (11676 Palmetto Ave., Jacksonville — actually, way up toward Little Talbot). Located in the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, the plantation features 25 slave cabins you can tour, and the owner’s house is the oldest surviving plantation house in the state. Oh, and it may be haunted by the ghosts of dead slaves. (If you believe in that sort of thing. Which we don’t.)
7. Dance with Leo in St. Augustine. Look for the elderly chap with a white beard, dressed only in a cowboy hat and lime-green shorts. (Sightings are especially likely if you’re hitting up Shanghai Nobby’s.) Take his hand as he commandeers the dance floor. Enjoy the ride.
8. Celebrate the greatest sport of all time — roller derby, duh — and check out a home match of our very own Jacksonville RollerGirls (jacksonvillerollergirls.com), held at Skate Station Mandarin (3461 Kori Road).
9. Hit up Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (3076 95th Drive, Live Oak, musicliveshere.com) for a jam band fest, even if you don’t dig jam bands. Go for the experience, man — like hearing a 60-year-old burnout rattle on about “the Dead at Red Rocks.” (And maybe the magic mushrooms.)
10. Good: Ride a water taxi to a Jags game at EverBank Field. Better: Go to a game where they actually win. (LOL/JK.) Best: Rock a Bikini at The Pool Deck, one of the two in-stadium pools paid for by tax dollars. I’ve actually been to a winning game. Can’t imagine that I’ll ever take the taxi to the game or get in the stadium pool so I’m considering this achieved.
11. Drink a Florida Mule (St. Augustine Vodka, ginger, lime, sugar, soda water) from an old-timey copper mug at the Ice Plant Bar (110 Riberia St., St. Augustine). Done – twice. See this post and that post.
12. Walk the Big Talbot Island driftwood forest (12157 Heckscher Drive). As you journey north from the public parking areas, you’ll find the beach become more and more remote, and the towering tangled driftwood piling up on the dunes. It’s stunning.
13. Your ears may curse you in the morning, but anyone interested in Jacksonville’s cultural underbelly should spend a Wednesday evening listening — and even joining in — at West Inn Cantina’s Jam Night. Of course, people in the know still call the joint Monty’s (3644 St. Johns Ave., Avondale).
14. Go to a First Coast Freethought Society meeting, held the third Monday of every month at the Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church (8447 Manresa Ave., Orange Park). Religion is the opiate of the masses, and you kicked that habit a long time ago. Nope, not going to do this one.
15. Commune with the living artwork in the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens’ riverfront garden (829 Riverside Ave.). Truly awe-inspiring, the massive Cummer Oak shades a generous portion of the 2.5-acre spread, which includes statuary, reflecting pools and a surprisingly Zen-like view of .
16. Witness the Ritz Theatre & Museum Amateur Night, in which musicians, singers, comedians and poets perform in an audience-judged competition — with cash prizes! and booing! — at 7:30 p.m. the first Friday of every month (829 Davis St., Downtown).
17. Hunt for rare and brand-spanking-new vinyl at Deep Search Records in 5 Points (822 Lomax St.). There are used and cassettes in the bins lining the walls, and intimate indie concerts are held, sometimes at a moment’s notice, in the store’s front room.
18. Eat a Camel Rider, the quintessential Jacksonville sandwich, as recognized by no less an authority than The New York Times. It’s a pita pocket, usually stuffed with cold cuts and cheese and drizzled with Italian dressing. For the ultimate Camel Rider experience, you should probably visit one of the five area locations of The Sheik. Be sure to wash this local fave down with a large cherry limeade.
19. Spend a couple serene hours kayaking the St. Johns River with Up The Creek Xpeditions(jacksonvillekayakcompany.com). They’ll launch you from the St. Johns Marina boat ramp next to Brewing Company and guide you as you wind your way throughout Downtown. If you want — and you do want — you can take a little jaunt through a tunnel that leads under the Times-Union building out into McCoys Creek.
20. Make friends with a boat owner — always a good idea — and watch the Blue Angels soar over you while floating on the St. Johns River during the NAS Jax Air Show every October. Best seat in town.
21. Search for sharks’ teeth on Mickler’s Beach (C.R. 203, Ponte Vedra Beach). Related: Learn how to pronounce Mickler. (Long i as in bike.)
22. Take the quick drive up to Fernandina Beach to sample the crustacean goodies at the annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (shrimpfestival.com), held in May.
23. Scoop up some cookies and other assorted delights at Edgewood Bakery (1012 Edgewood Ave. S., Murray Hill) before Shad Khan shuts them down.
24. Go on a St. Augustine Black Heritage tour (staugustineblackheritagetours.com), which will take you throughout the Oldest City to places like Fort Mose, the first free black settlement in North America.
25. Check out First Wednesday Art Walk. Spanning more than 15 blocks, this self-guided tour of the city’s ongoing cultural boom takes place the first Wednesday of every month in Downtown Jacksonville, and features more than 40 participating museums, galleries, restaurants and nightclubs. Lotta stuff going on.
26. Wander through the Karpeles. Housed in a temple-like building that was formerly a church, Springfield’s Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum (101 W. First St.) features changing exhibits of rare manuscripts, shows by local visual artists, and hosts everything from kirtans to free jazz concerts.
27. Take a blanket, some popcorn and the kids (and furry kids!) to enjoy an outdoor, summer-night-under-the-stars flick as part of the Moonlight Movies Film Series at SeaWalk Pavilion at Jax Beach(jacksonvillebeach.org). Movies begin at 9 p.m. on Fridays in mid-summer.
28. Try snake cooked to perfection at Clark’s Fish Camp (12903 Hood Landing Road, Mandarin). I wrote about it on my old blog but sort-of accomplished this when my mom came to visit for the first time. Didn’t actually eat snake but I tried frog legs, shark bites and gator.
29. Tie one on for cheap — oh, and, uh, watch some baseball, too — at the Jacksonville Suns’ Thirsty Thursdays at the Baseball Grounds (301 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Downtown). (Shameless plug: Check out Folio Weekly-sponsored 50 Cent Family Feast Nights during some Tuesday home games, too.)
30. Play dirty bingo at Hamburger Mary’s (3333 Beach Blvd., Ste. 1, Southside), every Monday and Thursday at 7 p.m. The prizes aren’t cash, it’s hosted by queens, and it’s 18 and up for a reason. It’s also for charity, so it’s not that dirty.
31. Start a pick-up soccer game with strangers in Memorial Park (1620 Riverside Ave.) on a Saturday afternoon. Or, on certain Sundays, watch nerds get dressed up in Dungeons & Dragons gear and fake-sword-fight each other. That happens, too.
32. Sing your precious little heart out during Thursday Karaoke nights at rain dogs. (1045 Park St., 5 Points). Don’t worry. People will applaud even if (when) you’re awful. And if you need some quick-hit liquid courage to channel your inner Whitney, duck across the way to Wall Street Deli & Lounge (1050 Park St.) or Birdie’s (1044 Park St.) for a shot. Karaoke starts at 9 p.m. There’s a nacho bar at 7.
33. Visit the World Golf Hall of Fame (1 World Golf Place, St. Augustine), the only one in the world. It’s not just men in ugly pants, walking (ahem, Rosie O’Donnell).
34. Spend an afternoon at American Beach, an Amelia Island landmark founded back in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida’s first African-American millionaire. From the 1930s to the ’50s, the beach attracted such black luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstein and Ray Charles.
35. Order a Chemex-brewed coffee at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters (869 Stockton St., Riverside; 2400 Third St. S., Jax Beach, boldbeancoffee.com).
36. Take a day trip to Cumberland Island, by ferry. Loud ferry, no cars allowed.
37. Pro tip: Find a Fourth of July perch on the Ortega Bridge. It’s the best spot in Jacksonville to watch the fireworks.
38. Send your intern/assistant/lackey off to The French Pantry (6301 Powers Ave., Southside) before you, to stand in the inevitable line that wraps around the building for the not-quite-best-kept lunch secret in Jacksonville.
39. Wait for horny teenagers to park their cars along Mary Street (St. Augustine). Pretend you’re the cops and shine your flashlight in their windows. Watch the panic.
40. Spend Thanksgiving morning pre-gaming for your in-laws at the annual Pete’s Bar street party (117 First St.). Pete’s — or Pierre’s By-the-Sea, if you will — is a venerable Neptune Beach institution, and if Thanksgiving revelry isn’t your thing, try the place at four o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon. During a Nor’easter.
41. See a production at Theater Jax (2032 San Marco Blvd., San Marco), the oldest continuously operating community theater in the country, in operation since 1919.
42. Sit down, shut up and meditate with local transcendental meditation teachers Herb and Karen Bandy (375-9517, firstname.lastname@example.org), who are fully qualified to show you how to “dive within.” Nope, not gonna do it.
43. Procure a convertible and enjoy a top-down drive down A1A from Jax Beach to St. Augustine on a sunny spring afternoon. There’s nothing like it this side of the PCH. Done that drive several times -not actually in the convertible even though we have one – and love it!
44. Get the “banana split in a cup” at Dreamette (3646 Post St., Murray Hill; 9825 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin).
45.Volunteer at Catty Shack (1860 Starratt Road, Northside, cattyshack.org) and make friends with lions and tigers (no bears, sorry).
46. Sip a cocktail atop Black Sheep’s (1534 Oak St., 5 Points) rooftop bar at sunset, taking in the St. Johns and Downtown skyline.
47. Gaze in awe at the veritable skateboard museum at Kona Skate Park (8739 Kona Ave., Arlington, konaskatepark.com). The walls inside the skate shop are covered with vintage boards from the ’50s through the heyday of the ’70s and second wave in the ’80s. Oh, and you should skate the park, too.
48. Spend an afternoon supporting local food vendors, artists and musicians at the free, one-of-a-kind Riverside Arts Market (riversideartsmarket.com), almost every Saturday (they take a few weeks off in the winter) under the Fuller Warren Bridge.
49. Get 10 of your most daring friends together to play among the treetops on the high-ropes course at the University of North Florida (1 UNF Drive, Southside, unf.edu/recreation/occ).
50. Jump in Friendship Fountain (1015 Museum Cir., Southbank) — which once had bragging rights as the world’s largest and tallest fountain, but doesn’t anymore, stupid Jeddah Fountain — on a hot summer night (keep your clothes on, please).
51. Have breakfast at the Cool Moose Café (2708 Park St., Riverside), and try to figure out which twin waitress is which. (One has a tattoo.)
52. Take a
ghost tour of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum (81 Lighthouse Ave., staugustinelighthouse.org), but only so you can climb to the top and soak up the magnificent nighttime view. (You don’t really believe in ghosts, do you?) Not gonna do a ghost tour but I did climb to the top during my mom’s first visit to JAX.
53. Roast s’mores over a fire while you’re camping for a night at Huguenot Memorial Park (10980 Heckscher Dr.).
54. Take sailboat lessons at The Rudder Club (rudderclub.com). Then sail in the annual Mug Race — the world’s longest river race, stretching from Palatka to Jacksonville — in May.
55. Go see the Saturday night drag show at Metro (859 Willow Branch Road, Riverside), then stop by the Rainbow Lounge and sing show tunes with AJ. Complex
56. Complete the Gate River Run 15K (gate-riverrun.com). There’s free beer after.
57. Date/marry/ingratiate yourself to someone with a studio at CoRK (2689 Rosselle St., Riverside) to secure an invite to the arts district’s seasonal members-only oyster roasts. Don’t see any potential in, you know, artists? There’s always the St. Johns Riverkeeper’s annual fundraiser oyster roast, which will run you $100 per person, but for a good cause.
58. Take a ride on the Mayport Ferry (aka the St. Johns River Ferry) on your way to Talbot Islands State Park and Fort George. When you get back, stop by Singleton’s Seafood Shack (4728 Ocean St., Mayport Village) for the best damn corn fritters you’ve ever had. (Good local seafood, too.)
59. Bar crawl the King Street District, like so: Riverside Liquors> The Garage > Dahlia’s Pour House> Kickbacks/Goozlepipe & Guttyworks> The Blind Rabbit > Intuition> Bold City> cab ride home. (To do this in reverse would violate the all-important Before Liquor rule.) Nope, not for me, thanks. 60. Surf the poles near Hanna Park (500 Wonderwood Dr., Atlantic Beach. OK, technically Jacksonville, but whatevs.) Nope, not happening. I watched Anthony surf numerous times…does that count?
61. Ride the Automated Skyway Express from Downtown to San Marco, and have the whole car all to yourself to ponder why this thing still exists.
62. Spend an afternoon — but not a Sunday, they’re not open — getting lost inside the bibliophile’s utopia that is Chamblin Bookmine (4551 Roosevelt Blvd., Westside, chamblinbookmine.com).
63. Sneak into the old Public School No. 4 building — that’s the abandoned, supposedly haunted structure just off I-95, nicknamed the “Devil’s School” — and make out with someone.
64. Zipline over hungry alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park (999 Anastasia Blvd., alligatorfarm.com).
Wear a Seminoles shirt to Attend the Florida-Georgia game.
66. Reel in a big one while fishing off the Jax Beach Pier (503 First St. N.). While strolling the pier with a friend, we did see a guy reel in a baby shark. That’s the closest I’ll come to achieving this one, I’m afraid.
67. Grab an order of fried chicken at Beach Road Chicken Dinners (4132 Atlantic Blvd.), the oldest restaurant in Jacksonville.
68. BYOB to enjoy an intimate, locally produced dinner in a garden at Community Loaves (1120 Edgewood Ave. S., Murray Hill, communityloaves.com). Call ahead: Hours are limited, and so is seating.
69. Walk through the secret door (OK, it’s not that secret) into the speakeasy at the Grape & Grain Exchange (2000 San Marco Blvd.). Try the absinthe.
70. Ride a horse on the beach on Amelia Island.
71. Sing along with the wait staff while dancing on the bar at Harmonious Monks (10550 Old St. Augustine Road, Mandarin; 320 First St. N., Jax Beach, harmoniousmonks.net).
72. Take a selfie during your ride on the iconic Davenport Park Carousel (180 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine).
73. Spend a summer afternoon day-drinking at Lemon Bar (120 Atlantic Blvd., Neptune Beach), perhaps the finest beach bar in all of Northeast Florida.
74. Perfect date night: a bottle of wine and a blanket to lie on with your significant other, while the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra serenades you under the stars at Metropolitan Park (4110 Gator Bowl Blvd., Downtown, jaxsymphony.org).
75. Find a cool treasure at the Pecan Park Flea Market (614 Pecan Park Road, Northside, pecanpark.net), the largest flea market in Northeast Florida, while sipping a cold bottle of Bud. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, Pecan Park features a dizzying array of more than 750 vendors offering everything from antiques and memorabilia to jewelry and leather goods.
76. Stroll the length of the Southbank Riverwalk, beginning at the River City Brewing Company (835 Museum Cir.). It’s only a mile or so, lazybones.
77. Check out a locally produced wrestling match, courtesy of the United States Wrestling Alliance (uswa98.wix.com/uswaweb). Who needs that fancy, big-time wrestling when there are local macho men in tights perfectly willing to fake-beat the hell out of each other for your amusement?
78. Have the steak frites at Restaurant Orsay (3630 Park St., Riverside, restaurantorsay.com).
79. Go flounder-gigging. (If you don’t speak fisherman, this is the art of spearing flounder in shallow water — in the dead of night, lit only by LED lights.) Let Capt. Mac Daniel (277-3050) be your guide, if for no other reason than his website (floundergigging.com) combines a ludicrous amount of photos of happy flounder-giggers with a seizure-inducing array of sparkling lights.
80. Play Galaga, Zaxxon, Karate Champ or any number of other vintage video games and pinball machines at Video Game Rescue (2415 Blanding Blvd., Lakeshore, videogamerescue.com). Ever heard of the 1987 game R Type? We hadn’t either — but it’s there.
81. Serve breakfast to the needy at the historic Clara White Mission (613 W. Ashley St., LaVilla, theclarawhitemission.org). While you’re there, tour Eartha White’s home, on the second floor.
82. Have your photo snapped with one of the two Medici lion sculptures at the foot of St. Augustine’s Bridge of Lions, a double-leaf bascule bridge that was built in 1927 and spans the Intracoastal Waterway. Have done this almost ever time I’ve gone to St. Augustine but the latest time was here.
83. Visit Jack D. Hunter’s grave at the Jacksonville National Cemetery (4083 Lannie Road) and pay homage to this legendary author, who was best known for his World War I aviation novel, The Blue Max, which was later adapted into a film of the same name.
84. Snap aerial shots of the old fort and other historic landmarks from the open cockpit of your very own biplane with St. Augustine Biplane Rides (4900 U.S. 1, Ste. 100, staugustinebiplanerides.com).
85. Order the cheese plate and a bottle of wine on the rooftop bar of the San Sebastian Winery (157 King St., sansebastianwinery.com), overlooking downtown St. Augustine. Thanks to mom, have done this.
86. Take your mutt to Dog Wood Park (7407 Salisbury Road, Southside, jaxdogs.com), a 42-acre (!) paradise of woods and ponds and squirrels to chase and strange scents to roll around in. Not you, your dog, silly.
87. Try something raw and organic at Present Moment Café (224 W. King St., St. Augustine, thepresentmomentcafe.com). If you’ve never eaten raw, you absolutely must before you keel over from a lifetime of consuming processed crap. The interior décor is almost as colorful as the menu. Almost …
88. Create something and enter One Spark (beonespark.com). Make your mother proud.
89. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is a nice event and all, but Jazz Fest After Dark is the real-damn-deal: Dozens of mostly local bands rocking stages all over The Landing and The Elbow, all for free.
90. Swim with the dolphins at Marineland (9600 Oceanshore Blvd., St. Augustine, marineland.net).
91. Check out Durkee Field (in James P. Small Park, 1701 Myrtle Ave., Northside), built in the ’30s and home to Negro League and minor league baseball teams. Hank Aaron and Satchel Paige both played there.
92. Exchange your paycheck for a dinner at Matthew’s (2107 Hendricks Ave., San Marco).
93. Bike the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail-Trail (traillink.com/trail/jacksonville-baldwin-rail-trail.aspx), all 14.5 paved miles of it (and back), beneath the dense tree canopy sheltering you from the summer heat. There’s a historic Confederate Civil War camp at the midway point. Beware the coral snakes.
94. Go scavenging inside Eco Relics (106 Stockton St., Riverside) for antique windows and used electrical equipment and architectural salvage and all sorts of what they call “cool relics” (like an old elevator, for instance). I’ve been there and it’s cool!
95. See a show at The Florida Theatre (128 E. Forsyth St., Downtown).
96. Run (and finish) the 26.2 with DONNA (breastcancermarathon.com) — a marathon founded by local celebrity and three-time breast cancer survivor Donna Deegan — that raises money for local cancer patients and research.
97. Hunt down the Happy Grilled Cheese food truck (thehappygrilledcheese.com) and enjoy a few bites of heaven. OK, maybe more than just a few bites …
98. Go on the “Tales of Our City” cemetery tour. The Pilot Club of the Port of Jacksonville (pilotclub.org) presents this tour every two years at Evergreen Cemetery in Springfield, with re-enactors/tour guides providing stories about now-deceased residents while keeping the kitsch-factor high with Ye Olde Tyme fashions.
99. String some Christmas lights on your boat and float down the St. Johns as part of the annual Jacksonville Light Boat Parade. Or just watch the procession from The Landing. Did this our first winter in JAX and it was cool – awesome firework show afterwards too!
100. Commission artist Chip Southworth (chipsouthworth.com) to paint a nude of yourself, then mail it to Jacksonville City Council President/Guardian of Civic Virtue Clay Yarborough (117 W. Duval St., Ste. 425, Jacksonville, FL 32202).