On a Budget in the Jacksonville Area

    By Cristin Wilson

    Looking for adventure? A bit of romance? Some quality family time? All are possible in the Jacksonville area, and without breaking the bank.

    Here are three itineraries that can be done for under $50.  If the sunshine doesn't make you smile, these budget-friendly ideas will.

    Lunch and wildlife

    Start by having lunch at the Sandollar Restaurant, a local favorite off A1A, tucked between Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach, for fish and shrimp, with pasta, vegetables and dessert on the buffet as well. Snag a table outside on the patio if you can because you might see a dolphin cavorting the nearby waves. 

    A brown pelican flies over the Sandollar Restaurant and Marina, 9716 Heckscher Drive, in Jacksonville. The eatery is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    After lunch, head over to The Caddy Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. Rated number one by Trip Advisor, Catty Shack Ranch is a refuge for rescued lions, tigers, panthers, bobcats and other big felines. Volunteer guides will lead you on a walk on the wild side as you stand mere feet away from cats, including a so-called strawberry tiger. The white tiger with orange stripes is believed to be one of only 35 in the world. 

    A ray of light illuminates the face of a napping cougar at The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, 1860 Starratt Road in Jacksonville. The all-volunteer organization is open to the public for tours on Thursdays. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    A Siberian Tiger stands at the entrance to its shelter at The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, 1860 Starratt Road in Jacksonville. The ranch is home to rescued tigers, lions, panthers, leopards and other big cats. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    Science and ice cream

    If you’re in Jacksonville on a Friday, admission to the Museum of Science and History is half price. Located in an area of Jacksonville known as San Marco, MOSH makes for an entertaining outing for you and the little ones. Count on plenty of hands-on experiments to keep your whiz kid occupied. Right outside the museum is Friendship Fountain, known as much for its beautiful lights as for its cascades of water. 

    A giant face greets visitors to The Body Within exhibit at the Museum of Science and History, 1025 Museum Circle, in Jacksonville. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    Next, take a water taxi to Jacksonville Landing, where you can get an ice cream cone or another snack from one of the many restaurants and people-watch the rest of the evening. Very often, you’ll be serenaded by live music.

    Jacksonville Landing can be seen across the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. The Landing is a 126,000 square foot shopping, tattoo, dining, clubbing, and historic museum complex. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    Wine and water

    About 45 minutes south of Jacksonville is the country's oldest city, St. Augustine, where San Sebastian Winery has free wine tours and tastings every day. Though best known for their dessert beverages, the winery has close to 300 different award-winning wines. Reservations aren't required unless you're coming with a party of more than 25. Wine tours and tastings usually last about 45 minutes. 

    Visitors to San Sebastian Winery, 157 King St., in St Augustine, sample some of the more than ten varieties of wine offered while on a free tour. The winery is open to the public seven days a week. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    The Jacksonville Water Taxi leaves Friendship Fountain Park for The Landing. IN service seven days a week, the taxi has been providing transportation along the St. Johns River for more than 20 years. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    Downtown St. Augustine is seen across Matanzas Bay, from Vilano Beach. Jax Water Tours offers sightseeing pontoon boat rides out of Comachee Cove Marina, between St. Augustine and Vilano Beach. - Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

    After enjoying a few sips or glasses head over to the Camachee Cove Marina. Jax Water Tours takes visitors along the Intracoastal Waterway for several miles for a sunset cruise, and possibly a dolphin sighting. Reserve online to save time.