JACKSONVILLE, FL: BEYOND THE BEACHES.

There is no doubt that the beaches of Jacksonville, FL are beautiful and fun to visit.  My daughter loves our sand time!  But for the fall through spring months there is still much to do in Jacksonville.  Here is a highlight of where to eat and two premier locations to take your family.

 

Where to eat:

While Jacksonville has just about every chain restaurant you can imagine (and I do love many, including the Cheesecake Factory at St. John’s Towne Center!) there are a couple hidden gems that are worth stopping by.  The first is a favorite among locals, the San Marco Metro Diner.  This is a breakfast hotspot and is open from 7am-2:30 daily with three Jacksonville locations.  It features delicious breakfast and lunch items from waffles and fried chicken to my personal favorite, eggs benedict.  They serve a variety of sandwiches, salads and the ever important espresso!

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The next location is not far from Metro Diner, it is in the San Marco business district just south of downtown, Vino’s Pizza Grill.  They have multiple locations throughout southeast Florida, but still feel like a down home mom and pop italian restaurant. Catch them early for a great lunch pasta and pizza buffet or order traditional menu items for a great dinner.

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Next we have two great places to take the family.  The first is the Jacksonville Zoo. They are open year round and feature a wonderful variety of animals, gardens, carousel and train ride.  Starting in March they will have a special butterfly exhibit.  Here’s a highlight of some of our favorite animals from the trip:

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Next we have the exquisite Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.  This is a wonderful venue to visit, with both indoor and outdoor features it is perfect for any type of weather conditions and all ages.  I especially enjoyed the permanent galleries, with their collection of works from ancient Greece, medieval, and baroque paintings.    There are contemporary exhibits as well and a delightful children’s gallery where my daughter enjoyed hands-on art education learning.  Here are just a few of the beautiful works we saw in the galleries.

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Agnolo Gaddi, Madonna of Humility with Angels, mid 1390′s

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Peter Paul Rubens, The Lamentation of Christ, c. 1605

We also spent some time in the beautiful gardens.  They are breathtaking.  Each season brings its own beauty, we caught the garden in early spring.  The Cummer Museum features both a traditional Italian garden and an English garden.  We spent a considerable amount of time despite the cold that day wandering its paths and enjoying the scenery.  Then we moved inside to the museum cafe for a warm up of hot chocolate!  The cafe features salad, sandwiches and more- a great place to rest as you spend hours enjoying the museum.

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English Garden at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

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The Oak Tree view from the Italian Garden at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

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