Kid-Friendly Activities & Eats: Southside & Baymeadows


Deerwood Rotary Children’s Park

Southside Jacksonville is a hopping area with a huge variety of restaurants and activities for your family. My home for the past nine years, I have some old favorites to share as well as some new ones that have recently opened.


Deerwood Rotary Children’s Park

This playground is very colorful and my kids love it. I appreciate the turf grass, so we don’t get mulch or sand in the shoes and car. There are two sets of playground equipment, a nice swing set, and clean restrooms. The only downside is there are only two picnic tables so I bring a blanket if we plan to eat.

9A Baymeadows Regional Park

Baymeadows parkThis is a beautiful park with lots of space. It has several pieces of playground equipment, one huge picnic shelter, several smaller shelters, a huge soccer field, grills, paved trail, and restrooms. This park is across the street from the Deerwood Rotary Park so if one is too crowded I simply drive to the other one.

Hands On Children’s Museum

This museum is full of exhibits that promote learning, creativity, and fun! It is a smaller children’s museum, but that doesn’t stop my girls from spending several hours there each visit. Exhibits include a grocery store, basketball cage, dress up stage, 50’s café, post office, fire truck, and so much more.

childrens museum


This paint your pottery studio recently moved to Baymeadows Road. Drop in with your kids and let them paint pottery as a gift for a family member or host your child’s next birthday party. FYI, they also host grown-up parties such as bridal and baby showers.

Shopping Malls

We are blessed with tons of shopping on this side of town! The Avenues Mall is an indoor mall if you need to beat the heat or avoid the rain. There is a play area for kids, a train that takes you around the mall, quarter rides (my kids absolutely love these rides), Build-A-Bear, and plenty of places to snack and eat.

Avenues kid center

The St. Johns Town Center features the Wolfson Children’s Play Area, located in front of Dick’s Sporting Goods. Constructed of soft foam and covered by partial shades, this is a great place to let your little ones climb and play.

The Town Center also has a train located just outside the play area, and a cool fishpond where kids can see huge gold fish and turtles. There is an Auntie Anne’s at the fishpond if you need a snack. As a side note, I just learned that groups can schedule a field trip to Auntie Anne’s and learn the history of pretzels and kids roll out their own pretzels.

For indoor fun, visit Barnes and Nobles and Pottery Barn Kids who both have a few toys out for the kids to play with as well as scheduled children’s events like Story Time. I’m not sure I’ve ever left PBK without my kids screaming because they don’t want to leave.

Pond at Town Center

Other Activities

If your family needs to get some wiggles out, the Southside has plenty to offer! Check out TNT Gymnastics, and Pump It Up for inflatable jump houses, and The Edge for rock climbing walls. There is no reason to be a couch potato in Jacksonville even when it’s too hot to play outside.

TNT gymnastics


Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery

Jacksonville is home to seven beautiful bridges that are the inspiration for this restaurant’s name. They have a fun patio with fans that spray a bit of mist when it’s hot, and is heated in the cooler months. My favorite item is the hummus and goat cheese salad with grilled chicken and one of their handcrafted beers. They have  a yummy kids menu, flavored lemonade, crayons and coloring pages please the kids.

4 Rivers Smokehouse

Located on Baymeadows Road, east of I-95, 4 Rivers has had a line out the door since they opened in June of 2013. Do not fear the line! It moves quickly! The “Kids Corral” includes turkey, chicken, pork, and brisket sliders, as well as smoked chicken and hotdogs, complete with a choice of side including applesauce. Bread pudding is an available side and is delicious! Don’t leave without visiting the Sweet Shop. One slice of S’mores Cake fed our entire family.

4 Rivers Smokehouse

Your Pie 

Want really yummy pizza but your kids don’t like to wait long for the food to cook? Your Pie recently opened in the chic Tapestry Park village. The concept is similar to Subway or Chipotle in that you go down the line and choose your dough, sauce, and toppings. They offer the kids a piece of dough to play with, crayons and coloring pages. The pizza is delicious and makes for great leftovers. My husband had a Panini tonight for dinner and it was equally delicious. Kids meals come with a small cup of gelato, and so far my favorites are pistachio and salted caramel. A bonus for parents is the craft beer and wine. They also offer gluten-free dough, vegan, vegetarian and diary-free ingredients.

 Your Pie SS

Newk’s Eatery

Located on Southside Boulevard near the Avenues Mall, Newk’s offers sandwiches, salads, soups and pizzas. It’s all yummy, but the pimento cheese is my favorite. An island in the middle of the restaurant has breadsticks, crackers, pickles, peppers and other toppings to jazz up your meal.

Ancient City Subs

Love chicken salad? Ancient City Subs has the best on the Southside! This sub shop is located at the corner of Baymeadows and Southside. They offer a “little kid’s meal” and a “big kid’s meal” which I appreciate because my kids don’t eat as much as a 12 year-old. Kids sides include healthier options such as mandarin oranges and fruit chips.

Sweet! By Holly

If you have a sweet tooth, Sweet! By Holly, owned by Hollis Wilder, three-time winner of Cupcake Wars, is serving up cupcakes and frozen yogurt at the Town Center. Take your kids for Mini-Mania Monday and get mini cupcakes for $1.

Sweet! By Holly Jacksonville

Three F(x) Ice Cream & Waffles

This unique café serves ice cream, fish shaped waffles, coffee, and tea. The three F’s are for fresh (coffee), fruits (ice cream), and fun treats (waffles). The chef makes the ice cream in front of you, which is fun for the kids, and they have many toppings to mix in. You can order the fish shaped waffles, called taiyaki, with fillings such as peanut butter, apple cinnamon, chocolate, pumpkin and more.

3 f(x)

Other tried and true Southside favorites include Mellow Mushroom, Village Bread Café, Mojo Bar-B-Que, Tijuana Flats, The Loop, and sweetFrog Yogurt.

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Liz Morrow is a stay at home mom and wife to a US Navy helicopter pilot. Their Naval family will live many places, but have been fortunate to have a longer than expected eight-year stay in Jacksonville. Liz is a mom of two sweet little girls who look like twins except they were born 2 ½ years apart. She worked as a Certified Public Accountant for seven years before trading her briefcase for a way too big diaper bag. In her spare time, Liz loves to workout, run, cook, blog, and sip wine. She never turns down a date night with her hubby and also loves Girls’ Night Out. She is active in her Officers’ Spouses’ Club (Navy wives) and her Mom-2-Mom group at church, and you will frequently find her helping with the babies and preschoolers at church on Sunday morning.


  1. Champions gymnastics ( on sunbeam and Philips hwy) has open gym on Tuesdays from 1030-1130. It’s $5 and the kids can play on a the gym equipment .. My little one loves the foam pit!

  2. Thanks for all this great info! I just moved to the area, we are going to checkPump it up out today since its a rainy morning! I cant wait to go to Deerwood Rotary park. Thanks again your page is great!

    • He Kristy. You are going to love living here. So much to do and so many restaurants. Be sure to check out the Baymeadows/9A Regional park too. Very new and so much space.


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