Since we last discussed mornings out, I became a mom of two, and we moved off of Kernan, solidly “Intracoastal.” My oldest has not ceased in his daily desire to leave the house, and “out out out!” has changed into “Where are we going to go today, Mama?”
With a whole new neighborhood and a new baby to explore it with, we’ve carved out a new range of places we love to visit to help eat up a long morning.
Atlantic Beach & Neptune Beach
- Southern Grounds: In addition to being the unofficial workplace of several Jacksonville Mom contributors, Southern Grounds, located in the Beaches Town Center, offers a full, delicious breakfast and lunch menu ranging from tartines to bagel sandwiches to salads along with coffee and espresso drinks — as well as a large wine selection and some craft beers for those occasional date nights. The vibe is kid-friendly, with an open courtyard great for eating your breakfast before starting off on your day’s adventure. Bonus: Kyds Children’s Boutique is a close neighbor should you need any clothing, toys or gift items!
- The Actual Beach: I had been visiting other, lesser beach locations before realizing I could park at Southern Grounds then easily stroll down to a lovely, well-kept sand beach. The walk is short, and this portion of the beach is beautiful and clean. I have yet to brave the beach with a toddler and a baby, but when I do, it will be this one.
- Bull Park: If you don’t have the strength to deal with an endless sandbox today, I suggest instead venturing a mere 0.6 miles north along Ocean Blvd. to Bull Park. It’s an easy stroll or a speedy drive. Why Bull Park? The playground is GATED. Your child will not run into traffic here. There are nice benches to sit. If your morning out accidentally turned into an afternoon out, there is a midweek farmer’s market here most Wednesdays 3–6 p.m.
- Whit’s Custard: If you walked to Bull Park, you definitely have earned a stop at Whit’s Custard on the walk back to your car. If you pull the top down on your stroller so your kids can’t see, you may not even have to share.
Jacksonville Beach (JTB)
- Bagels-R-Us: Bagels-R-Us is newly opened right next to Trader Joe’s! You may have eaten at this Jacksonville staple’s Beach Blvd. or San Jose Blvd. location. My son recommends asking for a plain bagel with strawberry cream cheese and then eating your mom’s everything bagel instead.
- Trader Joe’s: HEAR ME OUT. Trader Joe’s is great for kids. They have small shopping carts they can use to terrorize other customers. Stickers, lollipops, samples. They have an ever-rotating selection of seasonal treats. The store is small, and the kids don’t have time to get bored. For me personally, shopping at Trader Joe’s is a form of self-care, so it’s sort of a win-win for everyone.
- South Beach Park and Sunshine Playground: If grocery shopping didn’t burn enough energy, let your kids run around this enormous, themed, enclosed wooden playground. There is a toddler playground for the littlest kids and so much to explore for bigger kids. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there is also a splash pad to cool off.
Jacksonville Beach (Beach Blvd.)
- MiniBar: Tiny, customized, hot donuts — what’s not to like? With the oh-so Instagrammable decor and Bold Bean brewed coffee, a quick stop at MiniBar will set you up for whatever the rest of the day brings. There’s even a drive-thru in the parking lot if you can’t stomach the idea of getting the kids out of the car twice or walking a few quick steps from Minibar to your next destination. Minibar also offers mimosas and occasionally margarita donuts with a tequila dropper, for anyone wanting to make an especially bold choice before 10 a.m. Following Minibar, let your kids burn off that sugar at either of two indoor play places just down the sidewalk in the same strip.
- Greenhouse Playhouse: This indoor playground geared toward the birth–5 set has the coolest water table in Jacksonville. (Bring dry clothes for your kids!) They also have a ball pit, swings, slides (The tall one is very fast. If you must go down it, put your Starbucks down first. TRUST ME.), a pretend grocery store, and a baby area. Drop-ins are welcome.
Ponte Vedra Beach
- Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library: Just a few miles down the road from JTB is a baby/toddler storytime specifically geared toward the youngest set. Check the library website for specific event times for all ages. This is one of the few libraries that didn’t have a 10 a.m. storytime right in the middle of my baby’s naptime, but instead at the reasonable time of 11:30. Be warned, you can attend if you live in Duval, but you can’t check out any books without a St. John’s County Address.
- Bird Island Park: Right next to the library, take a stroll through nature. A wooden boardwalk circles the water feature, where you’ll see many different species of birds, turtles and maybe even a gator. There’s a small hedge maze as well. Perfect for a stroll and a picnic.
Across the Ditch: Intracoastal
- Pump It Up: Imagine two huge rooms filled with bouncy houses and slides. That is Pump it Up. My jumping fanatic child adores it.
- Drive-Thru Way/Atlantic Blvd: FUN FACT: If you are leaving the Beaches and driving down Atlantic between San Pablo and Kernan, you will pass the following on your right: Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks (PRO TIP: load them up on fries at CFA then pull into the Starbucks drive-thru), Panera, and Sonny’s BBQ. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, done.
Where do you like to take your littles in the Beaches and Intracoastal areas?