Summer Bucket List: Jacksonville and (slightly) beyond

Summer is a time for adventure. Even in the oppressively hot southern summers, I look forward to taking trips, relaxing at the beach, trying news things and general exploration.

Yea, it would probably make more sense to get out and about during the cooler months but the summer brings with it a certain carefree spirit. And so, I present to you my official Summer 2014 Bucket List of things I want to do in Jacksonville, the surrounding area and slightly outside the surrounding area:

Visit Hotlanta. Only a five-hour drive away, neither the husband nor I have ever been to the ATL. I’d like to stay in Midtown and check out a few highlights on a quick weekend trip: Centennial Park, Piedmont Park, Sweetwater Brewery, etc. Anybody have hotel suggestions? Any other hotspots worth checking out? Anything to avoid (it is Atlanta)?

Take a day trip to Cumberland Island, Georgia. It’s run by the National Park Service and is not too far over the border into Georgia. This place looks GORGEOUS. The Georgia coastal islands are just lovely. We’ve already been to St. Simon’s Island and Jekyll Island, and on a recent flight back from Washington DC, I could see Cumberland from a mile high, and have been itching to visit since. This place has got some history. The Carnegies vacationed there. JFK Jr. got married there. Its got ruins, wild horses, pristine beaches.  And you can only access it via ferry — that’s pretty badass too if you ask me.

Spend a day at the beach on Amelia Island State Park. A few years ago, we made it our mission to check out the local state parks. Little Talbot, Big Talbot, Anastasia, Fort George Island — we visited them all. We never quite made it to Amelia though. I’d love to wander the coast, searching for sea shells and enjoying the view.

Bikes

Bike the Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail. We recently bought bikes (see evidence above) and while I’m not the best rider, I’d like to get some practice in. I’ve run part of the trail before during training for a marathon and a few halfs, but I’d love to check it out end to end — and back.

Eat to my heart’s content at new places. I’m always willing to dole out my hard-earned cash on a good meal. Few things are more satisfying than a belly full of tasty treats topped off with a good cocktail, beer or glass of wine. There are a few restaurants I’ve been eager to try. But, being the Riverside snobs that we are, we rarely venture outside our neighborhood even though I know there’s fabulous restaurants around town waiting to fill my stomach with deliciousness. My top three to try this summer:

  1. Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails. My only experience with Chef Tom Gray’s restaurant is a few snacks they had at the Riverside Avondale Preservation Bootleggers Ball. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what I was eating, but I think it was probably corn and it definitely tasted good. I’m not a huge fan of the St. Johns Town Center, and mostly only go there to return items I bought online shopping, but the menu looks worth a try and I hear the atmosphere is fabulous. Also, I appreciate their use of the plus sign.
  2. Ovinte. Come on St. Johns Town Center. Why are you taking all the good, new restaurants? Their logo features a few of my favorite things: Wine, tapas and cocktails. What better reasons to go? If a picture says a 1000 words, then their Instagram feed just says “eat me” over and over again.
  3. M Shack. As you may recall (or not), we attempted to eat at M Shack in Atlantic Beach a few weeks ago, but were unsuccessful due to time constraints and the fact that they never put our order in (small details). I’m slowly becoming less bitter about it each day, and will eventually make a full recovery, so this is definitely on the list. Not sure if we’ll go back to the beach or try the Town Center location (or maybe even the new San Marco mobile location if we can steal away from work one afternoon). But I’m still determined to experience their burgers.

In other adventures, in July, I’ll be heading to Downtown Minneapolis for a work training. I’ve got the sculpture garden, stone bridge, and Nicollet Mall on my must-see list (mostly because they’re in walking distance from my hotel).

We’ll cap off the summer with a trip I’ve been looking forward to for months — a two-week SanFrancisco-Napa-Monterey-PismoBeach-LosAngeles-LasVegas-GrandCanyon excursion. West Coast, I’m ready to be won over.

In the meantime, its time to start checking items off.

 

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