Kid-Friendly Activities & Eats: Downtown, San Marco & Riverside

The downtown, San Marco, and Riverside areas in Jacksonville are FULL of great things to do with kids! There are so many kid-friendly restaurants I had a hard time narrowing them down to a few. So here you go!

Activities

The Cummer Museum

CummerThis place is an absolute gem in our community. The collection at the Cummer Museum has grown from 60 pieces upon opening in 1961 to now include approximately 8000 years of art history. The formal gardens encompass two acres and include English-style and Italian gardens. Check out “Art Connections”, the museum’s hands-on, interactive center for children.

Tuesdays, admission to the Museum is FREE from 4-9pm. Also on Tuesdays from 5-6pm, the Cummer hosts “Drop in Art.” Children ages 5 to 10 have the opportunity to explore the galleries or gardens and experiment with a different art process. This also means that mom is left solo for an hour to explore the museum or as I prefer, grab a glass of wine at the TreeCup Cafe. Oh yes, you heard right! The TreeCup is also a fabulous place to grab lunch or dinner! The TreeCup opens with the museum and closes one hour prior to the museum closing.

The Cummer hosts a plethora of fun family-friendly events throughout the year! Check out their website to see everything it has to offer!

Museum of Science and History

moshLocated right next to Friendship Fountain and across the river from the Landing, MOSH is full of exhibits and activities for the family. MOSH features interactive exhibits and daily live animal and science programs. Exhibits allow visitors to walk through the human body in The Body Within; journey through 12,000 years of local history in the Currents of Time; and get close and personal with animals in the Florida Naturalist’s Center. On Fridays, admission is $5 and the museum stays open late til 8pm. This is a great place to explore! It’s also a great place to host a birthday party.

Visit their website for details on ongoing events and exhibits.

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra

ORCHESTRAWha!? The Symphony for kids!? Yes. You heard right. The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra hosts a family series each year that makes introducing your kids to the symphony doable! My son LOVES music (he’s only 4) but he is absolutely obsessed with the concept of the orchestra and the conductor. Every year the Orchestra hosts the Symphonic Spooktacular where kids can dress up and come listen to a Halloween concert. Keep an eye on their website for more info soon to be listed.

The Jacksonville Skyway, Downtown Library, and the S.S. Marine Taxi

Downtown-Jacksonville-FloridaIf your kids LOVE transportation like mine do, downtown Jacksonville offers a variety of things that go! Kathy has already laid of the specifics in her blog post: Exploring Downtown Jacksonville with Kids: The Skyway and Downtown Library. Check it out and get the run down on exactly how the Skyway works and the best places to get on and off.

I will add that another great transportation activity with the kids is the downtown water taxi. It goes between the Northbank (the Landing) and Southbank  Sunday -Thursday from 11am – 9pm and Fri and Sat from 11am – 11pm, except in inclement weather. This is an awesome activity to add to a trip to the MOSH. You could take the Skyway to downtown and then cross the river back to the Southbank via boat!

Riverside Arts Market

RAMAlso known as RAM, the Riverside Arts Market is the place to be on Saturday morning! Every Saturday from March thru December 21st, from 10 am to 4 pm, more than 100 juried artists showcase the city’s creative side, from handmade pottery, paintings and jewelry, to silk-screened shirts and unique accessories. RAM’s expansive Farmer’s Market features local produce, as well as artisan breads, gourmet spreads, fresh cheeses and other tasty treats. The Market’s three stages present exceptional live entertainment, from great regional bands to barbershop quartets to bellydancers, magicians, fire-eaters and jugglers. With ample free parking, a beautiful riverfront setting and a family-friendly, community-centric vibe, RAM is your bridge to a better weekend. Visit their website here for more info!

Oh, and that water taxi I mentioned above runs from the Landing to RAM every 45 mins on Saturday! (Cost is $4 a person) Fun fun fun!

Hemming Park

Jacksonville’s oldest public park right in the Urban Core. This revitalization of the Hemming Park is now bringing families and the community together for concerts, meals, arts and cultural events, and more! Be sure to check out Imagination Playground on your way to Sweet Pete’s!

Sweet Pete’s

sweet petesLocated in Urban Core off of Hemming Plaza, Sweet Pete’s is another one of those gems in our city. It’s a candy and chocolate shop with so much character and deliciousness it’s out of control! Sweet Pete’s specializes in gluten-free and vegan chocolates and candies which are especially delightful for us moms who deal with kids with dietary restrictions and allergies.

Upstairs is dedicated to private parties and let me tell you, the birthday parties they host are awesome! Kids get to make their own chocolate molds, decorate caramel apples and much more! Also special are the classes Sweet Pete’s offers. From making gum, to lollipops, to learning how to pull candy canes for the Holidays, there is always something really cool happening here! Do not leave here without trying their Salted Caramel. Seriously, one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth!! Check out their website here for more info and list of events!

Connected to Sweet Pete’s is the Candy Apple Cafe. This is a great destination to bring the kids. However, it is even better if you are looking for a fun date night in quirky, colorful, Willy Wonka-styled cafe. The food is top notch and it’s a great reason to head to the Urban Core.

Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex

JaxIceIf you have had enough of the summer heat and want a way to seriously cool off, head over the Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex. Yes! There is an ice rink in Jax and it is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day! They have multiple public ice sessions a day and also provide “learn to skate” lessons. Figure Skating and Hockey programs are also available. If you are looking to do something different, this is one the kids will LOVE!  Check out their website for schedule and info.

Eats

River City Brewing Company

RiverCity BrewingLocated close to MOSH by Friendship Fountain on the Southbank, River City Brewing is one of the only places you can eat on the river in Jax! Grab a table outside and let the kids watch the boats and action of the cars going over the bridge etc. I haven’t been to brunch here, but I hear it is one of the best brunch buffets around. This would be a great place to go when visiting MOSH, they pretty much share a parking lot.

Beach Road Chicken Dinners

It has come to my attention that unless you are from here, you might not know about Beach Road Chicken and that’s sad for you. It’s an institution. Best fried chicken in the world I think!

Beach Road ChickenLocated on Atlantic Blvd. close to the on ramp to the Hart Bridge, Beach Road Chicken has been there since 1939 when Atlantic Blvd. was called “Beach Road” and was the only road that led to the beaches. This place is kid-friendly and quick and sure to please any picky eater. They also have separate parking and side entrance for to-go orders. Beach Road makes the perfect take out for a picnic or tailgating before a Jags game.

Burrito Gallery

Located on Adam’s Street in the heart of downtown, Burrito Gallery is a great place to take the kids for a quick meal after a trip to the library or show downtown. Yummy salads and unique burritos for the parents and quesadillas or tacos for the kids. You can’t go wrong! Lunch time during the week is super busy, so if you venture there on a weekday go early!

Taverna

TavernaLocated in historic San Marco, Taverna offers delicious tapas and European styled cuisine heavily influence by the flavors of Italy and Spain. The spinach salad here is my favorite salad ever! While not your typical kid-friendly place, they do offer outdoor dining, which really makes any place kid friendly, right!? On Fridays, they offer a brick oven pizza and Intuition Ale Works beer for $12!  Kids will love the pizzas too!

Mojo BBQ

The original Mojo is located in the Lakewood area just south of San Marco. They now have locations at the beach, in Avondale, Fleming Island, and St. Augustine. A bluesy inspired BBQ joint, the menu offers more than just your typical barbecue. My kids beg to go here! Awesome sides(mac and cheese, the best french fries etc), delicious onion rings, fried green tomatoes, and so much more! This place is LOUD! Which is probably the reason it is so kid-friendly, they can be screaming and the booth next to you can’t hear it. Perfect for kids, right!?

Moon River Pizza

Located in the Murray Hill area, Moon River is a little further from the areas I have been highlighting, but I wanted to throw it out there because it is such a great kid-friendly restaurant. The pizza and salads are delicious! Also, they will give your kids dough to play with if you request it. It’s also a loud place and very appropriate for kids!

These areas offers so many great places to eat, I wanted to share a few more. Here are some other places that came to mind in these areas with links to their websites: The LoopPizza PalaceMossfire GrillCruisersZoesHigh Tide Burrito CompanyHavana JaxPlayers Grill.

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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Kacey,

    Great blog, I agree that these areas have TONS of stuff to do for kids.

    While you highlighted much of the options in Riverside & San Marco, you missed a bunch of cool stuff in Springfield!

    In addition to Sweet Pete’s (which is awesome), Sailors & Sparrows is a unique children’s boutique that offers kids yoga and other classes for babies and new mom’s alike, the brand new and VERY unique playground at the Confederate Dog Park is uber popular with families, many coming from around the city for it’s amenities, and the Disc Golf (aka frisbee golf) Course inside Klutho Park is a fantastic family activity, the only such course anywhere near the Downtown area.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the kid friendly things to do in Jacksonville! We are heading there this weekend with our little guy and will be heading over to MOSH for sure. We would love to do the skyway, but it’s only opened during the week 🙁

  3. I wish there were a way I could leave a private reply. Please look at your blog for “Beach Road Chicken.” There’s a typo in there you may want to correct.

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