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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.