Tour Your Own Town
Even longtime Northeast Florida residents might have overlooked these hidden gems
75 King St., St. Augustine
A relaxing way to spend an hour away from the hustle and bustle of touristy downtown St. Augustine is to head to the Lightner Museum’s courtyard and feed the koi fish. Admission to the courtyard pond is free, but bring quarters to buy food pellets for the hungry, brightly colored koi and their little minnow sidekicks. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Clark’s Fish Camp
12903 Hood Landing Road, Julington Creek
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, look no further than Clark’s Fish Camp. The camp’s menu includes everything from fried gator toes and kangaroo sausage to smoked eel and charred ostrich. That’s not all. Clark’s Fish Camp’s website boasts “the largest private collection of taxidermy in North America.” Patrons can dine amid the lifelike critters, including a tiger, a zebra family, various reptiles and even a giraffe — all gutted, stuffed and on display to whet your appetite.
Avonlea Antique Mall
8101 Philips Highway, Southside
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or so the saying goes. Founded in 1995 and open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday (11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday), Avonlea Antique Mall touts itself as the “largest antique mall in Northern Florida, home to more than 200 of the finest dealer shops in the Southeast all under one roof.” What’s better than spending the day browsing 40,000 square feet of antique furniture, jewelry, china, glassware, linens, artwork and memorabilia? Taking a trinket home!
Durkeeville Historical Society
1293 W. 19th St., Northwest
Founded in the 1930s when African-Americans were barred from living in many parts of the city, Durkeeville is a historically black community in Northwest Jacksonville. In the ’80s, to help tell the story of more than eight decades of history, the Durkeeville Historical Society formed. Open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday by appointment, the society offers educational exhibits and displays, genealogy workshops to help residents trace their family history, and community elders spinning tales at storytime.
Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
1445 Millcoe Road, Arlington
Located on 120 sprawling acres, the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a living museum for trees and plants, complete with Spiderwort, Blanketflower, Drummond Phlox, Spanish Needle and other species growing in their natural setting. Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week (and until 7 p.m. during daylight saving time), the Arboretum is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization featuring two miles of hiking trails, educational workshops and outdoor laboratories for college faculty and students. Opened to the public in November 2008, the Arboretum & Gardens' admission is free.
333 E. Bay St., Downtown
From DJs to live music to dancing, Club TSI has proved to be a Northeast Florida mainstay. Complete with a full bar, laser lights, billiard tables and special events like Crunchay Sunday (they play dubstep music) and euphoria (electronica), the discotheque is considered one of Jacksonville’s premier indie nightclubs. If you haven’t visited the Downtown watering-hole-slash-dance-party, then you’re surely missing out. Yelp user Julie A. said of the club, “For those Vegas lovers (myself included), walk Jacksonville's semi-version of Fremont Street, the laser light tunnel in the alleyway beside Club TSI. There's a screen with graphics and some laser lights that illuminate the tunnel. Zine-style artwork is plastered on the walls and reminded me of LA’s murals in their informality and funkiness.”
12713 Fort Caroline Road, Arlington
Situated atop St. Johns Bluff in the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Ribault Monument is a part of Fort Caroline National Memorial. The monument commemorates Jean Ribault, a French naval officer and navigator who played a major role in France's attempts to colonize Florida, landing near the mouth of the St. Johns River in 1562. Ribault Monument is managed by the U.S. National Park Service, boasts beautiful views of the river, and is open 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. daily.
196 S.R. 312, St. Augustine
St. Augustine’s oldest record store, Music Matters is the place to browse new and used CDs, vinyl, DVDs, books and other miscellaneous music-related items. Established in 1989 by K.C. Kelber, the shop is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Foursquare user Brenton K. posted, “One of the last great music stores left!! They can find you almost anything.” So whether you’re looking for a rare Lynyrd Skynyrd album or want to order the latest by Michael Bublé, Music Matters is the Oldest City’s answer to an old-school record store.
Beaches Museum & History Park
381 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach
Opened on March 7, 2006 and operated by the Beaches Area Historical Society (BAHS) at Pablo Historical Park in Jacksonville Beach, the Beaches Museum & History Park features photo archives, St. Paul’s By-the-Sea/Beaches Chapel as well as educational exhibits and special events. Open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, the museum offers guided tours (11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.) for school groups and other history lovers. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors (65 and older), $3 for children 6-17 and free for kids 5 and younger.
Johnny & Beanie’s Kitchen
224 N. Main St., Hastings
While this downtown Hastings’ eatery is relatively new, chef and co-owner Johnny Barnes is a longtime staple in the world of Northeast Florida fare. Open 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, Johnny & Beanie’s Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch with a downhome Southern flair. From fried chicken and pork pilau to collard greens and sweet tea, Barnes and his cohort Beanie Masters have perfected the art of Minorcan, Southern-style cooking. But leave the plastic at home; the restaurant accepts only cash.