Ex­plor­ing Jack­sonville & Amelia Is­land

Jack­sonville, a bustling city with a boom­ing food and beer scene, and Amelia Is­land, a tran­quil 13-mile-long bar­rier is­land known for its pi­rate past and pris­tine coast­line, are both teem­ing with de­light­ful di­ver­sions wor­thy of ex­plo­ration.

Where First Coast - - CONTENTS - BY KRIS­TEN MANIERI

Get out and try these 10 ex­pe­ri­ences, from jaw-drop­ping mu­se­ums to horse­back rid­ing on the beach.

1 JACK­SONVILLE ZOO AND GAR­DENS

Fif­teen ex­hibits dot this sprawl­ing wildlife at­trac­tion, which cel­e­brated its 100th birth­day last year and now houses more than 2,000 ex­otic an­i­mals. Lots of in­ter­ac­tive an­i­mal ex­pe­ri­ences abound, in­clud­ing the op­por­tu­nity to feed gi­raffes, which freely roam and graze within a 2.5-acre African Sa­vanna re­pro­duc­tion.

2 MU­SEUM OF SCIENCE & HISTORY (MOSH)

Fea­tur­ing a slew of in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits, MOSH spe­cial­izes in im­mers­ing visi­tors in an en­thralling ex­plo­ration of ev­ery­thing from space and anatomy to di­nosaurs and shipwrecks. It’s also home to the Bryan Good- ing Plan­e­tar­ium where films and cos­mic con­certs come to life on the 60-foot dome.

3 THE MU­SEUM OF CON­TEM­PO­RARY ART (MOCA)

Now of­fer­ing free Thurs­day evening ad­mis­sion through­out 2015, MOCA gives art lovers the chance to ex­plore hun­dreds of pieces in its per­ma­nent and trav­el­ing ex­hibits, in ad­di­tion to art classes, tours, lec­tures and films.

4 RIVER­SIDE ARTS MAR­KET

On Satur­days from March un­til De­cem­ber, trea­sure seek­ers head to the River­side Arts Mar­ket a few miles from down­town Jack­sonville, where dozens of lo­cal ar­ti­sans and crafters gather un­der the Fuller War­ren Bridge to share their hand­made wares and so­cial­ize with other cre­atives. Kids will love the lively en­ter­tain­ment from street per­form­ers.

5 JACK­SONVILLE ALE TRAIL

Be­sides tours of Bud­weiser Brew­eries, Jack­sonville boasts a thriv­ing craft-brew­ery scene wor­thy of its own at­trac­tion sta­tus. The Jax Ale Trail gives beer lovers the chance to visit Jack­sonville’s nine lo­cal brew­eries where visi­tors can sam­ple the brews and col­lect stamps for their Ale Trail pass­port, which they can pick up at the Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter or any par­tic­i­pat­ing brew­ery.

6 HEM­MING PARK

Thanks to a mas­sive ren­o­va­tion, Hem­ming Park, Jack­sonville’s first public park, is bet­ter than ever. Host­ing ev­ery­thing from yoga classes to art par­ties to con­certs on the newly built stage, this 1.5-acre ur­ban green space is an epi­cen­ter of com­mu­nity and fun in down­town Jack­sonville.

7 FER­NAN­D­INA BEACH

Fea­tur­ing 50 square blocks in which ev­ery house, ho­tel and wa­ter­ing hole has a story to tell, Down­town Fer­nan­d­ina Beach has been named one of the coun­try’s Top 10 Dis­tinc­tive Des­ti­na­tions by the Na­tional Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion. Ex­plore by foot or by horse­drawn car­riage for a fas­ci­nat­ing, guided glimpse into this fun and funky town.

8 HORSE­BACK RID­ING

Wan­der miles of Amelia Is­land‘s beau­ti­ful white sandy beaches on a Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horse with Happy Trails Walk­ing Horses tours. Open to riders 6 and up, these laid-back trots amidst the surf are ideal for riders of all ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els.

9 FORT CLINCH STATE PARK

Civil War buffs won’t want to miss Fort Clinch State Park, lo­cated at the is­land’s north­ern tip. The 1,121-acre pre­serve fea­tures bik­ing and hik­ing trails through coastal mar­itime ham­mocks as well as camp­grounds and beaches. Built in 1847, the fort was held at var­i­ous times by both Con­fed­er­ate and Union forces.

10 AMELIA IS­LAND GHOST TOURS

Hear Amelia Is­land’s spooky sto­ries on a his­tor­i­cal walk­ing tour packed with tall tales and as­ton­ish­ing chron­i­cles. From vis­its past haunted homes to eerie gravesites, these nightly noc­tur­nal jaunts re­veal the se­crets of Amelia Is­land’s sor­did past.

Cen­tre Street

MOSH

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.