Exploring the Jacksonville Area on a Budget
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.