The votes are in. more than 2,000, actually. Here’s our annual rundown of the best that the River City has to offer—from the best places to fill up on delicious grub to the best places to max out your credit card.
compiled by STAFF // images by Agnes Lopez
Jacksonville Magazine has listed readers’ favorite restaurants, bars and First Coast hot spots in several different iterations over the years.
We’ve had categories like “Best Beach if You’re a Redneck” (Huguenot Memorial Park took that high honor), “Local celebrity I’d like most to see in a bathing suit” (ex-Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell), “Best secluded sunbathing spot” (the most popular answer there was “my backyard,”) and “Best summer treat,” (Dreamette—some things never change). Categories and winners come and go, but one thing remains the same: our readers still have their fingers on the pulse of the River City, and it grows stronger every year.
869 Stockton St. Suite 1-2, Riverside (855-1181); 2400 3rd St., Jacksonville Beach
Small-batch, artisanal coffees, fresh pastries and an admittedly hip atmosphere make Bold Bean a popular stop in many of our reader’s daily routines. Imported coffee beans (roasted by hand in the shop’s 15 kilo drum roaster) lend serious flavor to even a plain ol’ cup of Joe and homemade sauces (in flavors such as vanilla, curry and spicy chocolate) combine with espresso to make one mean latte.
Green Erth Bistro
1520 Hendricks Ave., San Marco (398-9156)
The menu might include some meat dishes, but don’t be fooled. Green Erth Bistro offers some of the tastiest vegetarian fare in Jacksonville. Located in San Marco, this little bistro packs a big punch. Expect to find classic Persian vegetarian options like hummus, tabouli and kabobs among salads and sandwiches. They even offer a selection of vegan-friendly food. Order this: the vegan wrap, a whole wheat lavash filled with julienne-cut carrots marinated in house tahini sauce, raisins, organic greens, pumpkin seeds and avocado.
1523 Penman Rd., Jacksonville Beach (246-1728)
There’s something about fresh baked goods that appeals to just about every one of our senses. At Cinotti’s you can see, smell, taste and even hear the love that’s been going into their baked goods for over 65 years. Expect cases stocked with a generous selection of tasty treats any time of the day; in addition to cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts and danishes, the bakery has a wide selection of layered cakes in flavors like strawberry and hummingbird (banana, pineapple and pecans) and they even make custom orders for birthdays and weddings. If that’s not enough, Cinotti’s also serves breakfast and lunch items with sandwiches served on freshly baked bread.
Happy Grilled Cheese
On the road
The words crisp, soft and ooey-gooey can only describe one thing: grilled cheese. Here in Jacksonville, the Happy Grilled Cheese food truck has been satisfying local cravings for this simple yet sinful sandwich and readers have been taking notice. This food truck doesn’t serve just any grilled cheese. No, their menu (which rotates weekly) is composed of everything from the traditional to more experimental sandwiches. Add-ons like apple slices and pulled pork are available to make your melts even more delicious. Order this: Blue Collar Melt with American cheese, fried bologna, and tomato on your choice of bread.
4378 Ocean St., Mayport (246-4911)
Safe Harbor seafood market embodies the word “fresh,” quite literally—bringing in the day’s catch right from the fisherman’s boat to your plate. Pick a just-plucked-from-the-ocean wahoo, shrimp or grouper from the fish market’s case to take home and fry up yourself, or stay a while and try the restaurant’s seriously tasty and fresh seafood fare like shrimp po’ boys and shucked oysters. Order this: Blackened scallop basket, a heaping pile of scallops, fries, cole slaw and hush puppies.
9965 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin (683-9903)
Sushi is easy to make, but tough to master. According to Jacksonville Mag readers, Kazu Japanese Restaurant seriously knows how to roll. The Mandarin newbie serves up a sizable menu of traditional and specialty rolls among other dishes like chicken katsu and tofu teriyaki. Order this: the agedashi tofu appetizer (tempura soft tofu with veggies and dipping sauce) and the Super Kazu Roll (salmon, tuna, yellowtail, shrimp, crab, avocado, cucumber and tobiko).
10208 Buckhead Branch Dr., Southside (900-7730)
Town Center restaurant Ovinté specializes in European-style dishes, small plates and tapas, and of course, wine and cheese. That’s the European way, after all. Try a cheese plate (you can’t go wrong with any of them), the shoestring-cut herb truffle fries, and Luxardo limoncello brioche bread pudding for dessert.
10281 Midtown Pkwy., Southside (642-5000); 299 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach (241-2599)
When it comes to gourmet burgers there’s no other place than M Shack. After all, what better YOLO meal is there than a juicy, flavorful all-beef patty enrobed in melted smoked gouda, bacon, truffle-flavored portobello mushroom and sherry glaze? Thanks to the recent opening of a second location at the St. Johns Town Center, residents on either side of the ditch can get their fix of burgers such as the “Cross-fit” (two grilled patties, all the fixins’, sans bun). Order this: The Medurable, a 100% all-natural beef patty topped with caramelized onions and foie gras—a gourmet twist on the classic.
Intuition Ale Works
720 King St., Riverside (683-7720)
Intuition Ale Works is everywhere these days—in bars, restaurants and grocery stores from Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine and lots of places in between. But for the best Intuition experience, one has to head to their tap room. There, twenty taps with favorites such as I-10 IPA, People’s Pale Ale and an ever-changing array of seasonal brews await thirsty beer lovers.
15 South Roscoe Blvd., Palm Valley (280-7522)
“Easy southern dining” is the motto at Barbara Jean’s, which has been serving up country-fried favorites since they opened their first location on St. Simon’s Island in 1998. From their basket of fresh, all-you-can-eat bread (the pumpkin bread is seriously crave-inducing) to the chicken fried steak, Barbara Jean’s does it right. Order this: The crab cakes come in 5 oz. or 7 oz. portions, and include no fillers—just plump, moist crabmeat. For dessert, you’ll want to save room for the Chocolate Stuff, a creamy, chocolatey cross between a brownie and cobbler—served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
4325 Myrtle St., St. Augustine (824-8794)
With St. Augustine just a quick drive away, it’s the perfect location for an impromptu getaway and Cap’s on the Water, which is nestled just off of A1A, has long been a reader favorite. It’s best to arrive just before sunset and have a drink on the oak-covered patio while you wait to be seated. Rest assured that your meal will be just as fulfilling as the water-front views. Order this: Crab Louie Salad, a mix of claw and lump crab meat tossed in tomato tartar dressing, layered between avocado, fresh tomato, parsley, onion and romaine lettuce and served with toast points.
1607 University Blvd., San Marco (732-7200); 1500 Beach Blvd. Jacksonville Beach (247-6636); 1810 Town Center Blvd., Fleming Island (264-0636); 3572 St. John’s Ave., Avondale (381-6670)
Finger-lickin’ good BBQ is a staple in the South and the smokehouse experts at Mojo’s deliver it just right: sticky, smoky and sweet. You can’t go wrong ordering anything on the menu, like the Jumbo Pulled Pork sandwich smothered in Jax Mustard Sauce or their Dry-Rub Spareribs. Hungrier than the average Southerner? Try The Whole Hawg, a massive platter of BBQ pork, beef, turkey, chicken, ribs, sausages and your choice of four of classic Southern sides like collard greens, garlic cheddar grits and mac and cheese.
1712 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach (249-8226)
Looking for the usual beef and shredded chicken covered in queso? Don’t go to TacoLu. You’ll find an overload of original, fresh Baja Mexicana flavors in the tacos, salads and quesadillas at this funky Jacksonville Beach landmark. Order this: the Spicy Bird (a taco filled with shredded chicken and house-made roasted tomatillo and chile de arbol salsa), the Bangin’ Shrimp (a spicy, Asian-style shrimp taco with cabbage, scallions and chipotle crema), and a Blackberry Jalapeño margarita or one of the 120 tequilas available to wash it down.
Thin, pan, deep dish, low-carb, and gluten-free: with so many options (and those are just for the crust), ordering a slice at Mellow Mushroom might be tougher than you think. These pizza experts toss up pie perfection every day at their four area locations. But there’s more to this hippie-themed franchise than pizza—they also crank out delicious
calzones, hoagies and salads. Order this: the Philosopher’s Pie, an olive oil- and garlic-based pizza topped with grilled steak, portobello mushrooms, artichokes, kalamata olives, provolone, feta and mozzarella cheeses.
21 E Adams St., Downtown (598-5303); 1974 San Marco Blvd., San Marco (503-7013)
With a new location in San Marco, it’s easier for Thai aficionados to enjoy a taste of the East. Indochine consistently gets readers’ votes, and it’s no wonder, with flavorful Thai dishes like Laab chicken salad (shredded chicken tossed in a flavor bomb sauce of toasted rice powder, mint, cilantro, fish sauce and lime) and their famous Drunken Noodles. Try your entrées “Thai Hot” if you’re feeling brave. Order this: Whole snapper, an Indochine specialty and traditional Thai dish of fresh, whole snapper fried and finished in the over and served with red curry sauce, pineapple, bamboo shoots, onion and bell peppers.
10601 San Jose Blvd, Mandarin (268-4458)
Classic Italian comfort food is king at Enza’s. Generous portions of pastas, salads and pizza turnovers grace the tabletops at this San Jose restaurant with Italian favorites like chicken Picatta (lightly pan-fried served with capers and artichokes in a lemon butter sauce) or baked eggplant parmesan (thick slices of battered eggplant with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese). Look forward to leftovers because Enza’s offers heaping portions. Order this: Veal Saltimboca, veal in white sage sauce and green onions, served over a bed of spinach and topped with mozzarella cheese.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
1201 Riverplace Blvd., Downtown (396-6200); 814 A1A North, Suite 103, Ponte Vedra Beach (285-0014)
When your steak comes out to you still sizzling on a 500-degree plate, you know it’s going to be good. Readers love this national restaurant chain that does all the steakhouse favorites just right. Order this: The New York Strip and some mashed potatoes—the classic American meal.
3302 Hendricks Ave., San Marco (398-3701); 1534 North Third St., Jacksonville Beach (853-6817); 12807 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin (638-6185); 4495 Roosevelt Blvd. (999-4600)
Now with four area locations, Metro Diner is more popular than ever. The heaping plates of gussied-up diner favorites (including overstuffed French toast, enormous pancakes and the ever-popular chicken and waffles) and casual atmosphere keeps locals flocking back for breakfast and lunch. Order this: Pittsburgh salad, a large garden salad topped with ribeye steak, french fries and bleu cheese crumbles.
3630 Park St., Avondale (381-0909)
Avondale French bistro Orsay’s brunch offers both breakfast and lunch options from 11 AM-4 PM on Sundays like bourbon and orange French toast, duck confit hash and a chicken fried pork chop. Paired with libations like the Paloma, made with Camarena Reposado tequila, house-made grapefruit syrup, grapefruit and lime juices, Orsay’s brunch can wash away any bad Saturday night decisions. Order this: Irish iced coffee (made with espresso-infused Irish whiskey and Bold Bean’s 24-hour slow drip) and the Croque Madame with spiced pork shoulder, gruyere cheese, roasted garlic cream, and soft fried egg on a fresh baguette.
3646 Post St., Murray Hill (388-2558); 9825 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin (379-4343)
Living in sunny Florida means a near-constant hankering for something cold and creamy. Enter Dreamette, a local ice cream institution that, on a sunny day, you’ll find packed to the brim with patrons looking for relief from the heat or just to satisfy a sweet tooth. Dreamette serves up soft serve almost any way you want it with choices from banana splits and sundaes to shakes and classic dips. It’s no surprise that this Murray Hill establishment takes the cake—the ice cream cake, that is.
& Grocery Store
Multiple area locations
The motto is “where shopping is a pleasure,” and our readers agree. No matter which location you visit, you can bet that the food will be fresh, the prices will be reasonable (Publix often offers BOGO deals) and the staff will be courteous. And if you’re hungry, you can grab a sandwich to go (people in the South go wild for the grocer’s subs). Our readers also pick Publix as tops for birthday cake. The grocer’s bakery offers more than just the standard decorated desserts (though those are good, too). Patrons can order custom cakes in the shapes of castles, pirate ships and trains for their birthday celebrant. For more traditional tastes, there are also single- or multi-tiers available in nearly every flavor imaginable.
363 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach (241-7637)
Poe’s, like its namesake, is just a little twisted—but undeniably good. You’ll find Edgar Allan Poe-themed decor adorning the walls and the macabre master’s works being read aloud in the bathroom. The burgers, with names like House of Usher and Annabel Lee, won readers’ tell-tale hearts. Try the Black Cat, a burger topped with grilled onions, Edgar’s drunken chili, applewood bacon
and pimiento cheese.
207 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach (241-7877)
Ragtime is back at the top of the cougar pack. This Atlantic Beach restaurant has great food, sure, but it’s obviously got a rep as a place the hottest older women in town frequent. And that’s nothing to growl about.
111 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach (482-1000); 8133 Point Meadows Dr., Southside (519-0509)
All the games, UFC fights, sports news and anything else a sports fan could dream of are always on at Sneakers—probably at the same time. With their giant HD projection screens, dozens of TVs, wide selection of beer and fool-proof American eats like a classic burger or humongous wings smothered in your choice of wing sauce, it’s no wonder Sneakers is so popular among sports fans.
If you’re craving burgers, tacos, gourmet fare or Asian fusion, you can probably find a food truck around Jacksonville that will sate your hunger. Don’t know where to look? Try checking out Jax Truckies on Facebook for a list of when and where you can locate a few of these trendy rolling restaurants every day.
Being waited on in a restaurant is nice, but some nights are meant for a good movie and takeout on the couch. Enter Al’s Pizza, which serves up Italian classics (like eggplant parmesan, fettucine alfredo and, of course, pizza) in seven Northeast Florida locations. Delivery is available at select locations, but you can call in a to-go order at any.
Pinegrove Market & Deli
1511 Pinegrove Ave., Riverside (389-8655)
Meat, cheese and veggies between two slices of bread—it seems like an easy thing to get right, and yet a great sandwich can be hard to find. Not so at Pinegrove, where hungry breakfast and lunch diners can choose from a wide variety of sammies. The Cuban and the burger are popular favorites, but the deli also offers daily specials (think grilled turkey topped with tomatoes, provolone, house pesto and sun dried tomatoes on grilled sourdough). The eatery also has an in-house meat market that carries a selection of fresh meats, chops and sausages, so you can have your pork—and cook it, too.
1534 Oak St., Five Points (380-3091)
The interior of Black Sheep, with its modern décor and stunning light copper fixtures, is certainly beautiful, but the best seats in the house are on the rooftop. Large canopies keep diners from getting sunburnt on particularly sunny days and heaters keep the space warm during colder months. Cozy up to the bar for a craft cocktail, like the Dusty Boot, a mix of bourbon, citrus juice and Jerry Thomas bitters with a smoked salt-and-pepper rim, or take a seat near the fire pit for a sampling of bar food (the restaurant’s regular menu is also available on the rooftop).
Special Occasion Restaurant
1440 San Marco Blvd., San Marco (398-1949)
Bistro Aix was one of the first trendy upscale restaurants to hit the local dining scene. Fifteen years later, the eatery is still serving up gourmet dishes such as mussel frites and braised lamb shank in a stunning atmosphere. For lighter fare, take a seat in the restaurant’s recently revamped Le Bar, which offers a selection of French-inspired fare (truffle fries, cheese plates, etc.) with a hip ambiance to match. Order this: Hand-rolled gnocchi with hazelnuts, roast butternut squash, sage and brown butter sauce.
Dick’s Wings & Grill
Mild, medium or hot—no matter how you like ‘em, Dick’s is sure to have ‘em. The sports bar atmosphere is a great place to catch the game with a beer and a big plate of wings—there are dozens of varieties, including sweet n’ sour, teriyaki and Cajun ranch and each is served with your choice of heat (from wimpy to swamp fever, which we’re guessing is only for the brave).
With a wide variety of chocolate covering just about everything—chips, pretzels, s’mores— as well as homemade ice cream, truffles and other goodies, it can be tough to settle on just one treat at Peterbrooke (though, let’s be honest, you can’t really go wrong with chocolate-covered popcorn). The First Coast fixture has locations in nearly every part of town, so you can get your chocolate fix no matter where you might be.
1986 San Marco Blvd., San Marco (398-3005)
You can never have enough of a good thing. That’s why readers rejoiced when Taverna recently expanded, making more room to enjoy their seasonal European cuisine. The newly expanded San Marco favorite boasts a larger dining room and an expanded menu, offering additional lunch items intended for those pressed for time. Order this: the Sopressata, a Neapolitan-style brick oven pizza topped with Italian dry salami, fried egg, San Marzano tomato and their house-made mozzarella cheese.
117 1st St., Neptune Beach (249-9158)
Generations have loved the eclectic quality of Pete’s bar, which has been owned by the same family for over 80 years and has barely changed in that time. The cheap drinks, 25-cent pool, dive-bar atmosphere and simple attitude make for a no-frills good time.
Casey Shelton has earned plenty of fans at Dos Gatos, where she is both the manager and the resident mixologist. The swanky cocktail lounge has earned high marks among locals for its delicious selection of seriously inspired drinks—such as Red Dawn, a mix of seasonal berries, Russian Standard vodka, ginger liqueur and ginger beer and the aptly named “The Shelton,” a mix of tequila, ruby red grapefruit, bitters and King’s Ginger. Bartender, another round, please.
200 N. 1st St., Jacksonville Beach (246-BIRD)
Since opening in Jax Beach in 1999, Freebird has played host to hundreds of up-and-coming music acts in its slightly smoky, standing room-only digs. The two-story venue (which has bars on both floors), can accommodate up to 700 music fans, but most shows still manage to feel intimate.
1960 San Marco Blvd., San Marco (393-4945)
Sometimes, a little retail therapy is just what the doctor ordered, and our readers know that there’s no better place to do it than at Thérapie. The San Marco boutique specializes in relaxed but trendy items from brands like Splendid, French Connection and Ella Moss.
5500 San Jose Blvd., San Marco (733-8633); 2400 3rd St. #203, Jacksonville Beach (247-9755)
With clothing and accessories from lines such as Allen Edmonds, Billy Reid and Canali, plus an in-house tailor to ensure everything fits just right, Rosenblum’s is the place for the discerning sartorialist. The business was founded in 1898, and started as little more than a pushcart full of wares in Downtown Jacksonville. Today, the family owned business has two locations—in San Marco and at the Beaches—and sells both men’s and women’s apparel.
In Jacksonville, the name “Underwood’s” is pretty much synonymous with luxury, thanks to the stores’ vast selection of fine jewelry. Whether you’re looking for a sparkly engagement ring or a sophisticated timepiece by SEIKO or Michele, Underwood’s (which has four locations on the First Coast) has you covered. Thanks to the store’s certified gemologists, you can be sure that any “bling” you might purchase is of the highest quality.
Cottage by the Sea
401 South 3rd St., Jacksonville Beach (246-8411)
Distressed furnishings and funky accessories (think vintage-style signs, shell mirrors and local art) are the specialities at this beachy shop, which has been satisfying the needs of Jacksonville residents for more than ten years. If you don’t see the exact piece you’re looking for, ask for Dale or Joy (the owners), who can usually custom-order specific items. The store also hosts “container sales” throughout the year in its backyard, where a forty-foot container full of furniture (usually holding upwards of 150 pieces) unloads to the delight of furniture junkies in Jax.
3588 St. Johns Ave., Avondale (388-7767)
Dr. Dana Nolan has been offering Jacksonville quality service and a great selection of on-trend and timeless eyewear since 2008. She might be a specialist when it comes to eyecare, but one step inside her Avondale boutique lets you know she’s an expert at one other thing: designer frames. Vue’s selection of luxury frames is a tightly-curated collection from designers like Tom Ford, Oliver Peoples and Mykita. Don’t need prescription lenses? Vue also carries a selection of sunglasses.
Fans & Stoves
1059 Park St, Five Points, (354-3768)
This Five Points mainstay is so jam-packed with vintage treasures, it can be tough to see it all. Spend an afternoon browsing shelves, baskets, and corners full of vintage artwork, housewares, old trunks—you name it. The selection of vintage jewelry is particularly impressive—they’ve got case after case of Bakelite, rhinestone and gold and silver baubles.
2400 3rd St. #106, Jacksonville Beach (246-1401)
In Jacksonville, you’re more likely to come across a Walmart than a high-end department store, but there are a handful of boutiques that work to fill the high-fashion void. Emly Benham does its part with a well-edited selection of shoes and handbags from lines such as Jimmy Choo, Prada, Miu Miu and Balenciaga. Whether you’re looking for that perfect pair of sandals, some casual sneakers or an outrageous pair of stilettos, they’ve got you covered from heel to toe.
With an experienced staff and six locations throughout the Jacksonville area, riders can be sure that they’ll hit the road safely (and in style) after a trip to Open Road. The stores host periodic demo days, where bikers can test new models, and keeps a comprehensive list of upcoming cycling events on its website, openroadbicycles.com.
St. Johns Town Center
4663 River City Dr., (642-8339)
Where else can you find such a hodgepodge of Jacksonvillians than at the St. Johns Town Center? The outdoor shopping hub draws patrons from every neighborhood across the city—Riverside yuppies, Jax Beach surfers—making it an ideal location to sit back, sip coffee and people watch.
Chamblin Bookmine/ Chamblin’s Uptown
215 N Laura St., Downtown (674-0868); 4551 Roosevelt Blvd., Westside (384-1685)
Even with electronic book readers flooding the markets, nothing beats the real thing and apparently Jacksonville Magazine readers agree. At Chamblin, hard copies reign supreme. There are no digital versions available here—just paper. Thousands of titles line the rows and rows of shelves at either of the locations from new titles to older classics. Sometimes, you might even stumble on a rare edition. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Chamblin also has a warehouse located on Forest Street where they store the remainder of their more than two million-strong inventory.
3637 St. Johns Ave., Avondale
This charming Avondale store specializes in colorful arrangements and potted plants just
begging for a garden. Gifts
and accessories—like vases and other interesting vessels—are tucked amongst the flora.
834 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach (241-0822)
Sunrise Surf Shop has been outfitting Jacksonville with the latest and greatest beachwear and surf equipment since 1976. This local favorite offers everything from bikinis to wet-suits to surf watches from all the coveted brands. Looking for a new board? Sunrise also has an extensive selection of new and used surfboards. And yes, you can get those “Sunrise” bumper stickers here too.
8081 Phillips Hwy., Suite 1, Southside (249-3749)
Agnes Agatha Homemaker Shop opened in February and offers custom furniture, lighting, rugs, luxury bedding, decorative fabrics, accessories and design services. The store’s “professional homemakers” can come to your home, take measurements and help you re-imagine everything from floor to ceiling.
BEAUTY & WELLNESS
Bargains on Hair
10601 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin (283-3235)
With salon services costing up to an arm and a leg for a simple blow-out, who has the cash to fund multiple visits every month? With Aveda Institute, everyone does: an almost-professional cut and style with Aveda’s students costs a fraction of salon prices. Need a bit more pampering? No problem. Aveda offers nails, makeup and spa services too, so you can walk out looking and feeling like new without breaking the bank.
Salon on the Square
1936 San Marco Blvd.,
San Marco (396-9003)
Located just off of San Marco Square (hence the name), this Aveda salon offers everything from cuts and color to blow-outs and updos. Waxing services allow patrons to put the finishing touch on their new look.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
200 Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra (273-7700)
From a radiance exfoliating treatment to an Ayurveda facial (which blends ancient Tibetan Ayurveda treatments with advanced cellular repair skincare), the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club offers a host of interesting spa treatments. Our readers turn to the Club specifically for facials sure to take the years (or at least the sunburn) off.
Old School Barber Shop
If the name doesn’t convince you, maybe one look at this local barber shop’s front window will. The staff here is dedicated to quality, time-honored service. Schedule an appointment at one of their three area locations and walk out looking dapper.
2025 Riverside Ave., Riverside (981-9600)
Cheap services are not often synonymous with luxury or quality. The manicures and pedicures at Happy Nails Feet & Tan, however, are an exception: their hour-and-a-half spa mani-pedi is just $30. This Riverside nail salon is known for great service, so you can keep your nails perfectly trimmed and polished and walk out feeling, well, happy.
Chances are, it’s not hard to find a YMCA in your neighborhood and really, why would you need anyplace else? Large facilities with plenty of equipment (which means less wait time during peak hours), swimming pools, studios for yoga, dance aerobics and strength-training classes, and even on-site child care... you might never leave.
4866 Big Island Dr #5, Southside (652-0652); 1851 Golden Eagle Way, # 40 Fleming Island (652-0652)
For over 10 years, nationwide company Ideal Image has been providing Jacksonville and Orange Park with quality skincare services from wrinkle relaxers to skin lifting therapy. These services are perfect for undoing sun damage (let’s face it, we do live in the Sunshine State), but the company’s specialty is laser hair removal. This ever-more-popular service is performed at Ideal Image by trained professionals under the direction of a medical doctor, so you can always be sure you’re getting top-notch care.
1025 Museum Cir, Southbank (396-6674)
What better place to bring your kids than MOSH where they can walk through a human digestive tract, stand inches away from a great whale, travel back in time or leave Earth without ever leaving Jacksonville at the largest single-lens planetarium in the world? With several interactive exhibits and an outdoor area to boot, Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History is educating and entertaining done right.
In January, millions of people downloaded Flappy Bird, a simple tap-to-keep-the-bird-in-the-air game with graphics reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. Then, on February 10, the game’s creator removed it from app stores, citing guilt over its addictive nature. It’s now no longer available for download, but plenty of look-alikes, like “Floppy Bird” and “Clumsy Bird,” have spread their wings in its absence.
Art Z Faces
Kids love to get their face painted and the professionals at Art-Z Faces specialize in just that. Art-Z also offers balloon twisting, henna, body art and even face painting classes, so technically, you could learn to paint your own face (but it’s probably best left to the professionals).
200 First St., Neptune Beach (595-5092)
Kyds has held this category for several years now, and it’s no surprise. Our readers love it for its selection of trendy and casual clothing, sportswear, swimwear and accessories for infants and kids in a wide range of sizes and styles.
The Green Alligator
3581 St. Johns Ave., Avondale (389-3099)
Thanks to the life-sized toy pirate standing guard outside the door, it’s tough to miss The Green Alligator. The inside is exciting, too—and packed to the brim with toys suitable for kids aged six months to thirteen and over. Selections that run the gamut from the traditional (sidewalk chalk) to the more unique (such as an easy-to-operate sewing machine for kids) means that there’s something for everyone on your list.
Local Blog for Parents
There’s plenty of local guides, but there aren’t many dedicated to the needs of parents and kids. Luckily there’s Jacksonville Moms Blog, providing moms (and dads) updates about parenting in the Jacksonville community with everything from special event details and movie reviews to recipes and giveaways.
1485 Old St. Augustine Rd., (300-0070)
Rebounderz features party spaces that can comfortably seat up to 30 children, but who wants to sit? With a jump arena, dodgeball arena, foam pit, archery and laser tag, mini-bowling and more, don’t expect kids (or adults) to slow down for cake or anything else.
Bar: Bonefish Grill
Special Occasion Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Grocery Store: Native Sun
Coffee Shop: Coffee Roasters of Florida
Sweets Shop: 3 Sisters Chocolate & Bakery
Bakery: Mina’s Bakery 7 Café
Hamburger: Cruisers Grill
Deli/Sandwich Shop: French Pantry
Outdoor Dining: Clark’s Fish Camp
Chicken Wings: Wild Wing Café
Hair Salon: Aura Salon & Spa
Kid’s Activity: Rebounderz
Takeout/Delivery: Red Elephant Pizza & Grill
Live Music Venue: Alhambra Dinner Theatre
Health/Fitness Center: Timed Exercise
Neighborhood Hero: Craig SmithSt. Augustine
Bar: Milltop Tavern
Special Occasion Restaurant: Raintree
Grocery Store: Publix
Coffee Shop: City Coffee Company
Sweets Shop: Claude’s Chocolate
Hamburger: Cruisers Grill
Deli/Sandwich Shop: Sunset Grill
Chicken Wings: Hurricane Grill & WingsOutdoor Dining: Best of Vilano Bakery: Luli Cupcakes
Kid’s Activity: St. Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoological Park Takeout/Delivery: Borillo’s Pizza and Subs
Bookstore: Anastasia Books
Live Music Venue: St. Augustine AmphitheatreAmelia Island
Bar: Green Turtle Tavern
Special Occasion Restaurant: Salt: The Grill at The Ritz
Grocery Store: Harris Teeter
Sweets Shop: Fantastic Fudge
Hamburger: T Ray’s Burger Station
Deli/Sandwich Shop: Café Karibo
Outdoor Dining: Brett’s Waterway Café
Chicken Wings: Buffalo Wild Wings
Bakery: Gourmet Gourmet
Boutique: Fern Lily
Kid’s Activity: Looking for shark teeth
Takeout/Delivery: Marche Burette
Bookstore: Book Plus
Live Music Venue: Palace SaloonArlington/Town Center
Grocery Store: Publix
Coffee Shop: Panera
Hamburger: Ted’s Montana Grill
Deli/Sandwich Shop: The Sheik
Outdoor Dining: Blackfinn
Chicken Wings: Dick’s Wings & Grill
Takeout/Delivery: California Pizza Kitchen
Bakery: Sweet by Holly
Sweets Shop: Donuts
Hair Salon: RIO Hair Studio
Kid’s Activity: Tree Hill Nature Center
Bookstore: Barnes & Noble
Live Music Venue: Bahama Breeze
Health/Fitness Club: Brooks Family YMCA
Special Occasion Restaurant: Taverna
Coffee Shop: Starbucks
Sweets Shop: Peterbrooke Chocolatier
Hamburger: The Loop Pizza Grill
Outdoor Dining: Taverna
Chicken Wings: Hurricane Grill & Wings
Bakery: Kathy’s Bakery
Boutique: Olive Clothing
Hair Salon: Salon on the Square
Kid’s Activity: MOSH
Takeout/Delivery: Pizza Palace
Bookstore: San Marco Bookstore
Live Music Venue: Grape and Grain Exchange
Health/Fitness Club: Dance TranceRiverside/Avondale
Bar: The Garage
Grocery Store: Grassroots Natural Market
Coffee Shop: Bold Bean Coffee Roasters
Sweets Shop: Sweet Theory
Hamburger Joint: Harpoon Louie’s
Deli/Sandwich Shop: Pine Grove Market & Deli
Outdoor Dining: Black Sheep
Chicken Wings: Mother Fletcher’s Food Truck
Takeout/Delivery: Jimmy John’s
Bakery: Edgewood Bakery
Boutique: Jane Doe Boutique
Hair Salon: Hawthorn Salon
Kid’s Activity: Memorial Park
Bookstore: Cowford Traders
Live Music Venue: Riverside Arts Market
Health/Fitness Club: Yates YMCADowntown
Bar: Dos Gatos
Special Occasion Restaurant: River City Brewing Co.
Grocery Store: Winn-Dixie
Coffee Shop: Three Layers Café
Sweet Shop: Sweet Pete’s
Hamburger: Chomp Chomp
Deli/Sandwich Shop: Olio
Outdoor Dining: Fionn MacCool’s
Chicken Wings: Hooters
Bakery: Village Bread Co
Kid’s Activity: Jacksonville Zoo
Takeout/Delivery: Chomp Chomp
Bookstore: Chamblin’s Uptown
Live Music Venue: Florida Theatre
Health/Fitness: River View Fitness Center
Neighborhood Hero: Tony Allegretti