Kid-Friendly Activities & Eats: The Beaches

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Since so many of you found my suggestions for day trips from Jacksonville useful, I thought I would start dissecting our little (HUGE really) city by areas and talk about some fun, kid-friendly places to go and eat! Since I am a beach newbie, I have decided to start there. We have been exploring the area over the past few months and finding tons of great places. Everyone comes to the beach at one time or another, so I hope this will be helpful!

Of course, the best kid friendly thing to do at the beach is GO to the beach. That’s a given! Besides the OBVIOUS, here is a list of my favorite kid-friendly activities and eats around the greater Jacksonville Beaches area!

Activities

Sunshine ParkSunshine Park

I don’t think there is a better park anywhere in Jax. Located on South Beach Parkway just a few blocks north of JTB, Sunshine Park has it all has it all. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch in a shaded pavilion. If it’s hot and the kids need to cool off, pack your swimsuits and head to the small splash park. The park is also just great for running around and expending all that “kid energy.”

Bird Island Park

This one is a total secret! Located behind the public library in Ponte Vedra (close to Solana Rd), Bird Island Park was designed to represent North Florida ecosystems. Enjoy walking the nature trails and navigating the sea turtle maze. It’s a great place to walk a stroller or let kids play on the small playground after exploring. Check out their website here where you can find a scavenger hunt for the kids!

Jax Beach PierJacksonville Beach Pier

Like Cheryl mentioned in her last blog, the Jax Beach Pier is a great (inexpensive) place to take the kids for a stroll on the 1/4 mile expanse over the ocean. Kids six and under are free and adults are just $1 to walk and watch the fishermen. For those who want to fish, the cost is $4 and it’s a great way to access deeper waters vs. being a boat. Kids will LOVE seeing what the fishermen reel in their catches and even if the fish aren’t biting, it’s a nice place to watch surfers and all the activity happening in the water and on on the shore!

Adventure Landing

A small theme park of sorts, Adventure Landing offers  go-karts, mini golf, laser tag, an arcade and a water park. You can’t go wrong with the kids here. I actually just took my older kids to the water park for the first time and we had a BLAST! I dreaded going during the summer, but we decided to go late afternoon (after 4) and it was perfect! Not crowded at all and totally age appropriate for my four and six-year-old. Small slides for little kids, lazy river, and a wave pool. Need I say more? Tickets are also discounted if you go later in the afternoon. Check out their blog for more details, hours, and pricing!

Adventure Landing

Beach Bowl

If you haven’t taken your kids bowling yet, it’s really the perfect rainy day activity! I think kids as young as three can enjoy bowling with the help of “bumpers.” Beach Bowl exudes that retro bowling feel and is located in the heart of Jax Beach. Check out their blog for hours and info.

Bay & Bee

Located just on the other side of the intracoastal on Atlantic Blvd. between San Pablo and Hodges, Bay & Bee is a contemporary play space for parents to enjoy play with their young children (birth to 5 years). Activities range from unstructured play areas to more organized, age-appropriate classes on a variety of kid-friendly topics. Bay & Bee is a membership-based community where you can choose a monthly subscription or yearly. Then go play as much as you’d like, anytime during their open hours. They also offer some classes and workshops open to non-members. Learn more on their website and swing by to check it out!

Bay&Bee

Planet Pottery

Another great indoor activity, Planet Pottery is (I think) the only pottery painting place at the beach! Located in the Atlantic Palms shopping center in Atlantic Beach, your kids can find their inner mini Monet and paint a piece of pottery of their choice. Turn around for pieces is usually a week! Check out their website here.

Eats

Taco Lu

If you live in Jacksonville and haven’t been to Taco Lu, you are so so so missing out. Maybe it’s the amazing margaritas, the awesome tacos (shout out to the bangin’ shrimp taco {side note: did you know they have bangin’ shrimp nachos!?! Seriously, DELICIOUS!!!}) or the overall fantastic “Dia de Los Muertos” inspired decor. Let’s just say I’m pretty obsessed with “The Lu.” You can sit outside on the deck and indulge in your margarita/cocktail of choice (mine is the Skinny Saint if you were wondering) while the kids color their totally cool Sugar Skull coloring pages.

Taco Lu

Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom is the place my son BEGS to go to every weekend. Yep, the kid that hardly eats anything. So why does he beg to go to Mellow? Because they have a psychadelic painted school bus that has been retrofitted with booths. They left the front with the steering wheel intact and whoever can nab that coveted first booth gets to climb up and pretend to drive that bus (Lucas always drives it to Disneyworld.) We like to head here on the weekend right when it opens and grab our booth. The kids love playing while we wait and the pizzas are awesome too. My favorite is the Thai-Die. A little spicy and a little sweet!  A great stop after a day at the beach too!

mellow-mushroom-pizza

Ragtime

Ragtime is like an institution in Atlantic Beach. I grew up going to this place and now I take my kids here all the time. We like to go for lunch when it is quiet. Ask for a booth by the fish tanks. My kids love watching the fish and an pretending the are Nemo and friends. Anything to make the wait for food go by quicker right!? With a New Orleans inspired menu, there are plenty of yummy options here for kids and adults a like!

Barbara Jean’s

Located in Palm Valley on Roscoe Road, Barbara Jean’s offers delicious seafood and southern style food. We always ask to sit outside on the intracoastal. The kids love watching the boats pass and and feeding bread to the fish. There are lots of healthier options here too for the kiddies including grilled chicken fingers or veggie plates. For adults, they are known for their crab cakes and the whole family will love their pumpkin bread! The pumpkin bread is like dessert before the meal!

The Pier Cantina

Another Mexican place (my son could live on chips and queso.. I could too actually), The Pier Cantina is located right on the ocean just steps away from the Jacksonville Beach Pier. Upstairs eating offers AWESOME views of the Ocean. There is also a glassed in room that is perfect for a party with a bunch of kids. We usually request this room so we can spare other diners the choir of toddler vocal chords! Another option is to sit outside on the patio. This is one of few ocean front dining spots and we LOVE it!

Mezza

A little italian restaurant located in quaint Atlantic Beach, Mezza is a perfect place where adults can feel like they had a a nice dinner out, but the kids will like it too! With a classic Italian menu, everyone will find something they love. Kids can make their own pizzas nightly from 5-7pm. Even if kids don’t want to make pizza, all kids are given dough to play with. The kids LOVE it and often times they will go ahead and bake the dough for them. I have to admit, I like playing with the dough too! We recently did a full review on how awesome Mezza really is, check it out here.

mezzaluna

*I am focusing on mostly locally owned sit-down restaurants.

These are just a few of the great kid-friendly places we’ve tried at the beach. We know there are more! What are your favorite places to go with kids around the beaches?

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Kacey Roache
Kacey Roache is a Jacksonville native who lives in Ponte Vedra with her husband, TJ, and her three kids, Lucy, Lucas and Lola. Kacey graduated from Florida State University (Go Noles!) with a degree in interior design. She currently is a Realtor with Team Young & Volen at Ponte Vedra Club Realty. She is passionate about the arts and arts education and serves on the board of Art with a Heart in Healthcare and the Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation for the Arts as well as the PTO at her kids' school. In her spare time you might find her channeling her inner Serena Williams on the tennis court, performing in an occasional community play, or enjoying the beach with her friends and family.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Our family often eats at Mojo Kitchen and Poe’s Tavern! Some of the dishes are a bit spicy at Mojo Kitchen, but it is a nice place to go with a large group! My kids love their mac and cheese! Poe’s has yummy burgers and fries!

    • We used to always go to the Mojo’s in town. I forget we have one down here too! Haven’t been to Poe’s. We’ll have to check it out! Thanks!

  2. This list is awesome! Thank you so much. I have a 6 and 9 year old (boys). I think we’ll try Mezza tonight!

  3. Hi, my husband and I and our 3 kids (10, 8 and 7) are moving to the Jacksonville area from Washington DC in January, and I have been researching the area on google and stumbled across this blog. Great info and I am excited to try some of these places out. Thank you!

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