Jun 292015

Thumbnail for 13157Where will you celebrate Independence Day? There are plenty of choices right here on the First Coast.

St. Augustine is planning a celebration befitting the nation’s oldest city: A free big band concert with The All Star Orchestra brings swing music to the Plaza de la Constitution from 6 to 8 p.m., followed by fireworks over the Matanzas Bay at 9:30 p.m.  The Bridge of Lions and Castillo Drive will be closed to traffic at 8:30 p.m. until after the fireworks, so get in place early. Restaurants downtown will have extended hours, so instead of sitting in traffic after the pyrotechnics, just grab a seat at a local eatery and enjoy the Independence Day specials.

The City of Jacksonville’s traditional downtown fireworks show will go on, on the St. Johns River, with plenty of good viewing spots on both the North and South Riverbanks.  The show begins at 9:45 p.m. However, beginning at 5 p.m., there’s family fun (with face-painting, inflatables and other activities) at The Shipyards plus a concert by 70s pop-rockers Orleans, music at The Landing with X-Hale, and hands-on fun by MOSH at Friendship Fountain.

If you’d rather watch fireworks by the sea, the Jacksonville Beach display begins at 9 p.m. on July 4 and can be seen from Atlantic Beach to South Jax Beach.

On Amelia Island, you can party with the kids at the Stars and Stripes Freedom Festival, at Central Park in Fernandina Beach, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where there will be food trucks, bounce houses and live music.  At Centre Street in the historic district, Island Vibes will play from 6 to 8 p.m., followed by Nassau Community Band near the Old Train Depot, and of course, fireworks at the riverfront at 9 p.m.

Of course, all the festivities are free!

Jun 042015

animal careThroughout the month of June, Jacksonville Animal Care and Control is charging $20 adoption fees for all pets-in-waiting.  The reduced-fee adoptions are meant to help with overcrowding at the shelter, which tries to maintain a no-kill status.  If you’re looking for a new cat, dog or other furry companion, drop by the 2020 Forest Street facility. Some pets will require a $20 city license fee, for others that charge has been waved.  All adopted pets are spayed or neutered, up to date on shots, and microchipped.

Jun 012015

art abstractJacksonville museums offer a wide range of exhibits and experiences, with exhibits and surroundings to inspire all ages.  Most offer memberships that come with benefits such as discounted museum store purchases and free admissions. But even if you don’t buy a membership, you can still get deals on tickets.  Consider the following opportunities..

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Jacksonville:

  • Free admission from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month during Downtown Art Walk
  • Free admission for University of North Florida ID holders
  • Free admission on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month for Bank of America card holders
  • Free Sundays for Regions Bank card holders

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville:

  • Free admission for all from 4 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday, courtesy of Florida Blue
  • Free admission for card-carrying college students from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday
  • Free admission to all on the first Saturday of the month, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. courtesy of J. Wayne Weaver and Delores Barr Weaver
  • Free admission to Bank of America cardholders on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month

Museum of Science and History, Jacksonville:

  • Free admission to Bank of America cardholders on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month
  • Discounted admission–$5 for adults—every Friday until 8 p.m.

Beaches Museum and History Park, Jacksonville Beach

  • Admission is always free, courtesy of Maxwell and Edna Dickinson

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Jacksonville

  • Admission is always free
Jun 012015

Wild Wonders, an introduction to the furry and amphibious creatures that inhabit the Dutton Island Nature Preserve, as well as some critters from around the globe, will be held Saturday, June 6, at 11 a.m, with educator Mike Rossi.  Bring the kids to the Dutton Island Pavillion at the end of Dutton Island Drive for this free, hands-on experience that covers animal behavior, feeding and habitat.  Wild Wonders is sponsored by the City of Atlantic Beach.

May 152015

art2The First Coast area is home to an abundance of artists and craftspeople, as well as a burgeoning food truck and bistro scene.  Happily, each town and neighborhood in this sprawling region offers a unique mix of homegrown flavors and talents.  The best way to sample the variety of sights, sounds and tastes is to cruise one of the many art walks.  These free monthly street fairs range from full-on productions with themes, street performers and merchant participation to quirky block parties featuring neighborhood musicians and crafters.  Jacksonville’s Downtown Art Walk is the biggest, but the surrounding events have their charms. Check out the links below for more information about locations and logistics.

  • Amelia Island Artrageous Art Walk, second Saturday of the month, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., downtown Fernandina Beach.
  • Jacksonville Downtown Art Walk, first Wednesday of the month, 5 to 9 p.m., 15 blocks of downtown Jacksonville, centered at Hemming Park, Laura and Monroe Streets.
  • Jacksonville Beach Art Walk, second Tuesday of the month, 5 to 9 p.m., 1st Street North from Beach Boulevard to 5th Avenue North.
  • North Beaches Art Walk, third Thursday of the month, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Beaches Town Center at Atlantic Boulevard and the Ocean.
  • St. Augustine Art Walk, first Friday of the month, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., throughout the Olde City with free shuttles and trains beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Amelia Island Artrageous Art Walk, second Saturday of the month, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., downtown Fernandina Beach.
Mar 262015

mosh ship

Odyssey’s Shipwreck! Pirates and Treasure exhibit has been held over at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) on Jacksonville’s revived Southbank Riverwalk.  The exhibit featuring technology and treasures from ship salvage operations will be open through April 5. However, those visiting on March 27 or April 3 will get a bargain. Entry to MOSH is $5 on Fridays.   The usual adult entry fee is $10.  Also on Fridays — the museum is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

MOSH is at 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, 904-396-6674.

Feb 222015

Drop into the Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt store at Baymeadows or Jacksonville Beach for a free Italian gelato. Click here for coupon and details. Sweet Frog usually has two flavors of soft-serve gelato on tap, along with several frozen yogurt flavors.