We recently spent several days in Jacksonville, and today we’re sharing – Don’t Miss Our Top 3, On Your Next Family Vacation in Jacksonville, Florida!
We love living in the Florida panhandle because it makes travelling to so many wonderful places simple. We are only hours away from many destinations that families can enjoy for a few hours to a week at a time.
We’ve been taking day trips outside of Panama City for years now. We’ve been to Mobile, Alabama for a day trip, to several days away to Jacksonville, Florida. It’s pretty great that we can go from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Ocean in a few hours.
Recently we decided to visit Jacksonville. It’s a HUGE city! If I’m not mistaken, I believe that most of, if not all of Duval county is in fact the city of Jacksonville. The interstates within the city remind me of Atlanta, but crazier.
You can totally travel within Jacksonville without getting on and off the interstate for the most part, but you may have to make Google Maps direct and redirect for miles. Once we got the hang of doing that, we were much better off.
Living in Panama City, our nearest interstate is I-10, which is about 45 minutes from us. Needless to say we aren’t used to interstate driving.
Jacksonville is a beautiful city, full of sky scrapers and breathtaking views of the St. John’s River from one of several bridges. Our favorite bridge is beside Friendship Park. I’ve never seen such a beautiful way that a bridge was constructed.
We totally avoided the beach on our trip, and without another day, we were honestly so busy with other things, we just didn’t have time.
So that leads me to – Don’t Miss Our Top 3, On Your Next Family Vacation in Jacksonville, Florida! These three places could fill two days time, but we sadly only had one. We managed, but rushed through the best part of the day, the Jacksonville Zoo.
So let’s start there, which is what we did Friday morning. We got up and drove to the zoo, located in the north of the city. Featuring over 2,000 animals, I’m sure that your kids will find their favorite.
We were super impressed with the tiger enclosure. They have it made! They have two ginormous areas, including an enclosed walking path that goes over the sidewalks that you’ll walk on. We got lucky, and this guy made his way across, and down closer to us. It was as if he just wanted his picture taken!
The whole zoo is just beautiful. It’s been so well thought out and constructed. Not one area has been left untouched. From the waterfall, to the bamboo “forest”, and the bridge over the coy pond.
We were lucky and happened to be visiting during the Nature Connects event. There are 13 beautifully constructed LEGO creatures, featuring more than 300,000 bricks throughout the zoo. They were constructed by world-renowned artist Sean Kinney. You can still catch this exhibit through May 7th. It was like a little bit of LEGO Land at Jacksonville Zoo!
Jacksonville Zoo features so many wonderful exhibits, taking you on a journey around the world. I read on a website that most people spend three to four hours here, but I have to admit that we were rushed, and that was at 4 hours.
We bought the value tickets, because I knew that Kelsie would want to ride the train, and the carousel, and we all wanted to touch the sting rays. I hate that we didn’t get a chance to see the 4D theater. We ran out of time.
One of the girls favorite exhibits was the bird aviary. Pay the money, and feed them! It’s totally worth it!
What I really loved about Jacksonville Zoo is the amount of space that these animals have. It’s not cramped like other zoos we’ve been to, where the animals have no space to roam.
There are reptiles galore! I will spare those photos, because I even get the heeby jeeby’s looking back at them. It was hard enough to take the pictures while we were there. Ha!
They even have a sloth, which Kelsie was looking forward to the most, since she loves sloths, but sadly the little guy was in a dark area inside, and asleep in the corner. This was all that we got to see of him.
All in all, we adored Jacksonville Zoo, and we plan on going back just for the zoo! We want to spend a whole day there. If you visit, plan on being there for several hours. At almost every exhibit there is a zoo keeper, willing to talk to you, and tell you all about the animals, and answer any questions you may have.
This may be why we wanted more time. Kelsie wants to be a zoologist when she grows up, so she was asking all the questions, and listening to all the information they could give her.
I’m gonna admit, I had been eyeing MOSH for years. When I did a search for museums years ago, this place showed up. I knew that we would eventually make it over to visit, and we finally did. It’s not as large as I had expected. We’ve been to The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, so it’s hard to top that one, but this place is pretty awesome in it’s own.
There is a whole area dedicated to Marine Biology, and since Kelsie is studying Marine Bio this year, it was perfect. The life size model of a right whale was pretty cool. Imagine kayaking, and seeing this guy swim below you! Yikes! I guess I’ve never thought of how large a whale actually is until seeing this up close and personal.
Also located in this area is a touch tank. We arrived late in the day, and the touch tank was closed, but it was still pretty cool to see. Living in Panama City, these are things we already get to see and touch, but it’s neat for those who aren’t that lucky.
MOSH is full of fun, educational, and hands on exhibits throughout. Not to mention all the awesome brain teasers! This seemed to be the most popular exhibit while we were there.
Of course you can’t have a science museum without an awesome planetarium! The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium is one of the largest single-lens planetariums in the United States. We enjoyed Tour of the Solar System. But there are lot’s of shows to choose from. You just have to make sure you arrive in time to see your favorite.
There are a few animals here, but not very many. A few turtles, an owl, and this little guy that we got to see swimming!
Located right behind MOSH is Friendship Fountain Park, along the St. John’s River. It’s beautiful, and I highly recommend you check this place out, at night time.
We had a wonderful weekend getaway in Jacksonville, Florida! Sometimes small getaways are the best. Just time to unwind, and spend some much needed time with the family. We will definitely visit Jacksonville again as soon as we get the chance!