Jacksonville Florida is a great place to visit with your family. There are so many fun things to see and do all year round.
Our first time visiting Jacksonville, Florida hooked to this beautiful city that has so much to see and do. The awesome itinerary kept us busy and the wonderful food kept us full and ready for our next activity.
My family was so excited about our visit to Jacksonville! The kids had packed their bags a full week prior to going because they were really looking forward to everything we were going to do. We had a great itinerary ahead of us.
We set out for Jacksonville early so that we could get the most out of our first day there. After hours of “are we there yet?”, we arrived at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Our first stop at the Jacksonville Zoo was to visit the sting ray exhibit. It was a really cool experience for the kids because it was their first time feeding them.
I highly suggest getting a Total Experience Ticket so that you can enjoy feeding animals, like the sting rays and giraffes.
We love visiting zoos, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries, whenever I am traveling with my kids. I love to see them learn through experience. They learn about animals of all kinds, learn about their homes, and their needs.
I love getting to feed giraffes! They are such intriguing and gentle creatures. It is very cool to see their long tongues wind out to grab the food.
The zoo has several different areas of focus where you can explore the various spaces and animals that makes each one home. We enjoyed exploring the different areas like the Africa Loop, Giraffe Overlook, Asia Loop, and Land of the Tiger.
While we have been to plenty of zoos, they got to see so many animals that we have never seen before. They were blown away with the size of the anteater. The tigers were really cool snoozing on interconected trail and bridge that went right above our head.
Our ticket also included a carousel ride. The kids loved riding their animals that were themed around the animals at the zoo.
Another great activity to enjoy is the train ride around the zoo. It was great way for us to see some animals from all the exhibits from an old train.
The Asian small-clawed otter was my favorite animal of the whole day. We caught them at feeding time and they made cute squeaking noises. But the best part was when the Visayan Warty Pig, that is housed in the same exhibit, stole a clam from them. They chased and chased that pig. He was huffing and puffing trying to out run 8 of them trying to get back the clam that he stole and ate from them.
Intermingled throughout the animal exhibits are beautiful botanical gardens. The gardens features a variety of flowers and a designed at different sides so you can experience them in different ways. Wandering through the different garden areas was a lot of fun.
While we didn’t see too much in bloom because it was winter, we still could appereciete the gardens.
Throughout the zoo there are different art installations that blend in with the settings. Some of the pieces are part of their permeant collection, and then there are pieces that are loan in temporary exhibits. We loved checking out the various pieces throughout the zoo.
The kids got a kick out of seeing the komodo dragon, and then seeing the Chinese dragon sculpture shortly after. They imagined the dragon growing up to become that large dragon.
Even with the splash pad closed inside the children’s area, the kids had a blast there. In fact, we all did!
We got to see the penguins get fed, which was real cool. Plus, they loved to visit the petting zoo to see the Nigerian Dwarf Goats and West African Pygmy Goats.
I tried to take a selfie with a goat, but he thought that eating my hair was a better idea. ha!
The zoo is home to more 2,000 animals over it’s 145 acres. There of plenty of space for animals to run and explore. I really enjoyed thet they had several animals together in the same enclosure. It was like you were experiencing a safari right in front of your eyes.
We just about stayed the whole day at the zoo, leaving shortly before it closed. I think you need to visit for a whole day if you will only be able to go once, or not very often.
The kids were thrilled to head to our hotel so they could relax a bit before dinner. And, if we are being honest, I was more excited then them. I needed to relax after all that walking around the zoo.
We stayed at the Sheraton in St. John Town Center. It was a great location as it was right off the exit and also so close to the HUGE Town Center shopping area.
Our room was perfect for our family. It had 2 big, fluffy queen beds, a desk for their workbooks and crafting, and a large bathroom.
The drinks and food were fantastic. We all shared a Hummus Platter, Kimchi Fries, and a large House Made Pretzel. Highly recommend going there because there was a great family friendly place with outside seating.
Typically, I don’t sleep much, so I was so excited that I got over 9 hours of sleep! I was ready to conquer our fun day ahead! We were going to visit Museum of Science and History (MOSH).
The morning began leisurely with coffee in bed while watching the news. Then a quick trip across the street to Mini Bar for donuts for breakfast, and more coffees. The kids loved getting to try the different flavors that they made fresh to order.
Museum of Science and History
We were really excited to be visiting the Museum of Science and History (MOSH). The museum features a lot of great exhibits, that focus on aquatic life, technology, history, and space.
Our visit also included getting to see the traveling exhibit was Toytopia. (exhibit through May 16, 2021) This exhibit features toys from the last century to now. There are even some games that you can play.
We started in Atlantic Tails exhibit to learn about the sea life that is abundant throughout the Atlantic coast.
Next, we visited JEA Powerplay to learn about energy and different ways to create energy to power a city. The kids liked lighting up the city as the learned about wind, solar, and gas.
The Toytopia traveling exhibit features games through the ages. It really brought back a lot of memories for me as a peering through the displays of Pogs and Tomigachi’s. And it was fun getting to explain those toys and so many others to my kids.
They are used to tables, magnatiles, and some board games so it was cool for them to see the old games that kids use to play with. I was blown away that Mr Potato Head used to use a real potato!!!
My husband was determined to make this claw game work. Using a joy stick you control the claw to pick up a ball, taking it to a conveyor belt to whirl around the track above. He eventually got it to work several times with the kids cheering him on every time.
I loved that this exhibit was so interactive and fun for everyone of all ages.
The Florida Naturalist’s Center was a big hit with my owl loving daughter. She sleeps with owl stuffed animals every night so she loved seeing owls in persona nd learning about the different kinds of owls.
The Currents of Time: A History of Jacksonville & Northeast Florida was a great exhibit because we got to show the kids old things like tiny TV’s, wall phones, old school desks, and lots of vintage outfits that people used to wear.
We enjoyed a visit to the planetarium for a movie about the Orion’s Belt Constellation. The video was targeted to kids with a family friendly cartoon, but we all enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.
Our visit to MOSH was so much fun, we all learned a lot about space, cities, animals, toys, history of Florida, and so much more.
After our trip to the museum, we went to V Pizza for a late lunch. Pizza was perfect there- crisp crust, good balance between cheese and toppings.
Time for a Swim
We decided that hanging at the hotel to play in the pool would be a great way to spend the dreary afternoon. Because it is inside, we could enjoy it even though the temps were too cold to swim outside. It was a great feature of the hotel for our family.
We worked up a great appetite for dinner from our busy day so we drove over to the Town Center area, which was conveniently located from our hotel, to grab some dinner. There were so many options for dinner and shopping there!
I had been craving some poke recently, so I was thankful that Kazu Sushi Burrito was there to satisfy that craving. The Tuna Lovers Poke really hit the spot! My husband really enjoyed his Dancing Shrimp Sushi Burrito and the kids enjoyed their fried rice and dumplings.
Our kids enjoy specials treats on Fridays, so we decided to treat them to some great cookies at Insomnia Cookies. The line was long, but it was worth the wait because the kids were really happy with their scoops of ice cream and warm cookies.
We headed back to the Sheraton to unwind and watch some TV before bed. The perfect ending to the day.
We enjoyed another great day together doing fun Jax activities and eat great food. I loved getting to spend this time together as a family.
Rise and Shine! It was our last morning in Jacksonville before heading home.
My husband was missing his normal morning routine of going for a run, so he worked out in the gym. And the rest of us enjoyed the cozy beds and kept on sleeping!
My daughter had been requesting bagels so we went to Bagels R’ Us. The bagels were truly awesome with a great crust and a great chew to them.
Our original plans were to get breakfast and then go to a local nature preserve to walk the trails, but it was much colder than we anticipated it for be. We are such whimps since moving from Boston, ha!
Instead, we decided to continue to head East and do a quick stop at the beach. Had to see the Atlantic Ocean!
We enjoyed our bagels in the car for making a quick sprint to the beach for some family photos.
We headed home with full bellies, happy hearts, and lots of great memories. My family can’t wait to go back to visit Jacksonville to continue to explore the area, eat more great food, and check out beach some more.
Thank you to Visit Jax for coordinating my complimentary lodging and activities. All my opinions are honest and my own. I purchased all meals in Jacksonville.