By Ania Cajuste, DVI Intern Visiting #DTJax is always a fun and exciting experience. However, if you’re looking to include your beloved pet in your adventures, it can be a bit of a hassle when you don’t know where you’re allowed to bring them.

Here are a few of the pet friendly places and activities that #DTJax has to offer and will be open on September 6th for the First Wednesday Pet Walk.


Magnificat Café

231 N. Laura St.

Mon – Fri 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

This Parisian-style eatery is right in the heart of #DTJax. Founded by Chef Benoit, a native to Paris, France, the Magnificat Café boasts classic lunch items such as soups, salads and sandwiches.  The large outdoor seating space is perfect for pets!

Photo by: DVI

Photo by: DVI


BARK Downtown

45 W. Adams St.

Tues- Fri 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Sat – Mon Closed

This fun, unique dog boutique is the perfect stop for your trip in #DTJax! Browse through their extensive collection of novelty treats, toys, designer collars and high-end grooming supplies!

Photo by: Downtown Jacksonville

Photo by: DVI


Burrito Gallery Downtown

21 E. Adams St.

Mon – Fri: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

Sat 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.

Sun 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

This Jacksonville staple hosts a spacious front patio to hang out with your furry friend while in The Elbow. Enjoy the tex-mex menu and find out why this is one of the best-rated restaurants in town!

Photo by:

Photo by:


The Candy Apple Café

400 N. Hogan St.

Sun 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mon 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Tues – Thurs 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fri 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sat 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

The large patio space at the forefront of The Candy Apple Café is dog friendly! Stop by and enjoy the specialty craft cocktails, beer and wine selection, as well as the French-inspired menu!

Photo by:

Photo by:


The Court Urban Food Park

37 Hogan St.

Mon – Fri 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

First Wednesday Art Walk 5 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Enjoy lunch outside and enjoy the variety of food trucks! With plenty of shaded areas to sit and enjoy your food, this outdoor food court is great for your pet to hang out.

Photo by: Jacksonville Business Review

Photo by: Jacksonville Business Review


Hemming Park

117 W. Duval St.

Sun – Sat 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lunch and Live Music Mon – Fri 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

This park is the oldest park in the City of Jacksonville! This park is located right in the heart of #DTJax, which makes it the perfect stop for you and your dog to rest while you’re out and about.  With regular programming such as live music, it’s a great place to enjoy a day outside.

 Photo by: WJCT News

Photo by: WJCT News


Bringing your dog out to and about can be a great experience for the both of you to enjoy, if you know where to look! Remember that each and every First Wednesday Art Walk is a pet-friendly event. Just ask a few of the dogs of #DTJax!

Bella, 4 year old Dachsund

Bella, 4 year old Dachshund

Peanut, 6 year old Pug

Peanut, 6 year old Pug

Maddie, 7 year old Cocker Spaniel

Maddie, 7 year old Cocker Spaniel

Donut, 2 year old French Bulldog

Donut, 2 year old French Bulldog

Tug, 9 year old Newfoundland mix

Tug, 9 year old Newfoundland mix

April (left), 4 year old Chow and Buddy (right), 6 year old Chow mix

April (left), 4 year old Chow and Buddy (right), 6 year old Chow mix


For more information, visit

by: admin in Itineraries No Comments  

By Matthew Winship, DVI Intern

Part four of our Downtown Itinerary series provides some fun ways to get the whole family acquainted with all Downtown’s amenities. 

Downtown Jacksonville is a happening place for kids! Check out this chronological itinerary, packed with kid-friendly activities available every day Downtown.




Museum of Science and History (MOSH) visit (1025 Museum Circle)

Parking: Museum visitors can park for free in the parking lot across from the museum entrance at the opposite end from River City Brewing Company. Admission is only $6 for children and free for toddlers age two or younger with a $10 cost for accompanying adults. An annual family membership starts at only $80.

About the museum: The popular Museum of Science and History (MOSH) on the Southbank opens 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays at noon. The museum is packed with interactive exhibits just for kids, from the anatomy of a life-size blue whale replica in “Atlantic Tails” to experiencing a talkies movie theater in the “Currents of Time”. Included with admission are amazing MOSH science shows, where fun experiments are demonstrated with audience help! For “Creature Features” kids can interact up close with snakes, birds, turtles and more in the museum’s Naturalist Center.

The Brian Gooding Planetarium screens kid’s favorites daily. Each planetarium show is an additional $5 per person and lasts about 30 minutes. The first Friday of every month also brings Cosmic Concerts. At just $5 a person per show (and just $1 for laser glasses), you can enjoy a collection of laser lights and images. What better way to spend a Friday with your kids, especially with the $5 Friday admission and extended hours (10a.m. – 10:30p.m.)

When you’ve wrapped up your visit at the museum, head out back to the beautiful Friendship Fountain, which leads to the start of the new Southbank Riverwalk. If you stick around Downtown until nighttime, the fountain will glow in multiple colors for its music and lights program everyday from dusk to 11 p.m.


Ride a River Taxi to the Northbank



Just past beautiful Friendship Fountain behind MOSH is the deck for the Jacksonville River Taxi, where you and the kids will get a kick out of riding across the St. Johns River to the Northbank. One-way fares will cost adults a mere $5 and the kids just $4. Rides begin daily at 11 a.m Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Mondays.

If you and the kids are tuckered out from the museum visit, stay on the river taxi and take it for the entire loop around the riverfront area for a fun water ride around Downtown, getting back off where you parked at MOSH. If you’re up for more Downtown fun, disembark at The Jacksonville Landing.

Hopping off the river taxi at The Jacksonville Landing will put you and the kids in the Northbank core of Downtown, ready to explore the stroller and pedestrian-friendly core for lunch.

Kid-friendly lunch Downtown


Click to enlarge

Visit to The Jacksonville Landing (2 Independent Dr.)

Lunch at the Jacksonville Landing is easy. Choose from American GrillFionn MacCool’sChicago PizzaCinco de Mayo and even Hooters – all with kids menus and both indoor and outdoor seating.  Be sure to visit their website for a full listing of stores, dining, events and concerts.

Besides The Jacksonville Landing, Downtown is teeming with great places to grab a bite to eat. For the kids, don’t miss Burrito Gallery (21 E. Adams St.), Chamblin’s Uptown Café (215 N. Laura St.) or Candy Apple Café (400 N. Hogan St.)

Of course, after lunch comes dessert!

Downtown houses a number of places to grab something sweet. Start with Peterbrooke Chocolatier (100 W. Bay St.) , then work your way up to Mocha Misk’i (209 N. Laura St.). Then tour Sweet Pete’s (400 N. Hogan St.) and see where all the magic – erm..chocolate is made.


Things to do Downtown

Get educated at The Main Jacksonville Public Library (303 N. Laura St.)

Kids can get in touch with their inner scholar at the Main library, which is located right around the corner from Sweet Pete’s near Hemming Park. The library opens Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. It offers a children’s department packed with books and other activities as well as regularly programmed events. Their kids section is overflowing with awesomeness, right down to the aesthetics. There’s a lounge area that’s created to look like a pond, complete with an alligator couch. The fourth floor map room is also an amazing feature of the library, especially for those future world travelers.

View contemporary art at MOCA Jacksonville (333 N. Laura St.)

Located right next to the Jacksonville Public Library the MOCA Jacksonville is great fun for kids. In addition to multiple floors of contemporary art the fifth floor is dedicated to the Art Explorium and contains 16 different stations for kids to learn about contemporary art. The museum also houses NOLA MOCA. This contemporary restaurant serves seasonal entrees as well as hand crafted grilled cheese, flatbread and pasta. MOCA Jacksonville opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon on Sunday with an admission charge of $8 for adults, $5 for students and free for children age 2 and younger. NOLA MOCA is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, and offers limited dining hours.

Get some fresh air in Hemming Park (303 N. Laura St.)

Hemming Park


The new and improved Hemming Park is a great place to have fun with the family while taking in the city.

Food trucks are available and the park features live music every weekday from 11a.m. to 2p.m.  The Imagination Playground Kids Station is open daily from 10a.m. to 6p.m. and offers a space for kids to explore and play.  Every Monday there is a chess meetup from 10:30a.m. to 12:30p.m. for newcomers and experts alike.

There are also other weekly and monthly activities. The first Wednesday of every month artists fill up the park for Art Walk from 5p.m. to 9p.m. Every third Thursday is Jaxson’s Night Market; featuring local farmers, local art and crafts, local beer and food trucks. Make sure to check out the events calendar to stay up to date on everything Hemming Park has to offer.

During the week take the free Skyway back to San Marco Station or hop back on the river taxi to return to the Southbank any day of the week.


  • Parking meters are free every weekday after 6 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday. Or if you prefer, check out the parking garage and lot options here.
  • The Skyway, free, operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and during special weekend events. For more information, click here.
  • The Jacksonville River Taxi hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m and Friday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m; closed on Mondays. For a one-way ticket, fares are $5/adult and $4/children ages 3-12. Children younger than age 3 ride free. For more information and special events fare, click here.
  • If you need assistance Downtown, our Downtown Ambassadors are here to help. Look for them in their orange polo shirts and pith helmets or call 904-465-7980.

For more information on Downtown destinations, check out our online directory. Many Downtown destinations also hold various special events throughout the year. Be sure to check our events calendar often, or sign up for our weekly events e-newsletter.

Playing tourist in Midtown

Recently I spent a long weekend in NYC. It had been 12 years since I had visited the Big Apple, and I delighted in playing tourist: staying in mid-town Manhattan, attending a wedding in Long Island City and shopping in SoHo. But, despite the fact that I was visiting for pleasure, I couldn’t help but make mental notes of big city best practices.

Learning curve aside, it’s easy to see how New York’s public transportation makes living without a car a reality for so many. You name it, I took it. Buses were standing room only. Buskers danced to Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” on the subway, while seasoned New Yorkers put on their best poker faces. (I couldn’t say which was more entertaining.) Taxis were convenient and warm on cold, snowy evenings. The waits were brief and the wayfinding concise. But in my opinion, the best part about public transit is the before and after… the walking, and its associated physical and mental health benefits that so many New Yorkers enjoy.

Central Park and its People

New York’s public parks are well managed and programmed, drawing large crowds despite freezing March temperatures. Bryant Park is a frequently referenced case study for public space management and it’s easy to see why. Meticulously maintained, Bryant Park had lush landscaping, a wealth of moveable tables and chairs, hospitable signage, and plenty of programming: I happened upon both an ice-skating rink and a children’s health food festival during my stop. And though I only had a half hour to spend in Central Park, the experience there was quite similar. I watched harbor seals frolicking at the Central Park Zoo, spied a second ice-skating rink, and took in the natural beauty as I wandered among joggers, tourists and locals alike on a late Sunday afternoon.

Adaptive reuse and historic preservation are alive and well in New York. Take trendy SoHo for example. Crowded streets zigzagged through the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. Decorative cast iron facades—dating back to between the 1840 to the 1880s in many cases—encompass pre-existing industrial buildings. The facades enabled buildings to attract commercial clients over the years. And then following the abandonment of a proposed elevated expressway plan, which would have devastated the area in the 1960s, the district attracted artists who utilized the buildings for living and working studios. Today, the district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, declared a National Historic Landmark and is chocked full of galleries and shops.

There’s something special about New York: the setting for so many stories, the subject of so many songs. And while there’s a lot to be learned from other cities big and small, I’m also reminded of all that’s special about Downtown Jacksonville. The small-town charm, locally owned and operated businesses, the way the Florida sun reflects off the St. Johns, and the vast possibilities for a city starting to come into its own.

by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

Downtown Jacksonville can learn a lot about placemaking in public spaces by looking at two successful urban parks in Cincinnati, Ohio: Cincinnati’s Fountain Square and Washington Park.

Fountain Square (Photo courtesy of 3CDC)

Fountain Square is a park very similar in size to Downtown Jacksonville’s Hemming Plaza and was renovated in 2006. It is active space with tables, chairs, lunchtime crowds and events held every night throughout the summer. It is also the central gathering place for celebrations in Cincinnati including New Year’s and the “Light Up The Square” holiday event.

Another popular Cincinnati park, Washington Park, opened in August 2012. Washington Park is a grass park with a dog walk and a neighborhood feel, similar to Jacksonville’s Confederate Park.

Washington Park (Photo courtesy of 3CDC)

Each park was renovated at a cost of $50 million, which included the cost to construct parking garages under them. Both have annual budgets of approximately $2.5 million, which are spent on  security, programming, cleanliness, promotions and other activities. A major source of revenue comes from holding third-party events in these parks.

A Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) presentation given to the Urban Land Institute this fall provides great photos of Fountain Square and Washington Park. You can find the presentations at the links below:

Fountain Square Park presentation and photos

Washington Park photos presentations and photos

We believe both spaces provide great case studies for the reactivation and revitalization of Hemming Plaza. What improvements would you like to see made to Hemming Plaza?

by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Vision, Inc., Placemaking 1 Comment  

Inaugural Picnic in the Plaza

Our challenge in revitalizing Hemming Plaza is quite simply figuring out a way to bring more people to the Plaza.  And one of the best practices for bringing more people to a public space is programming through free or low cost activities and vendors. On a large scale, consistent year-round programming often takes dedicated management. But on a small scale, sustainable, low-cost, low-risk activities can help create a trend, as DVI proved last Friday.

The public space: Hemming Plaza, neighbor to City Hall, the Main Library and MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Arts), is known for its nuisance activity.  The challenge: spend little-to-no money to bring people out of the surrounding office buildings for lunch. The solution: Picnic in the Plaza, a Friday lunchtime pop-up gathering of friends and coworkers, open to all.

DVI set the date and time, gathered the basic supplies: camp chairs, picnic blankets and lawn games, secured a “to-go” special from a nearby restaurant and used personal e-mail invites and social media to spread the word. The “event” was “BYOP,” or “bring your own picnic.”

This grassroots gathering welcomed more than 100 people to the Plaza for lunch, including Mayor Brown and Councilman Brown. Based on the success, DVI’s staff has committed to continue the pop-up picnics each Friday, weather permitting for the foreseeable future. We hope you’ll join us.

View photos from the first Picnic in the Plaza here.

Please share your ideas for small ways to make a difference in our comment section.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

New York City’s Bryant Park—one of the most densely populated urban parks in the world today—provides an excellent case study for turning a declining public park into a neighborhood asset. One key element in bringing people to Bryant Park was the introduction of movable chairs. After observing how people use public spaces, the park’s management placed movable chairs in the park to give people a sense of empowerment, by allowing them to control their experience and sit wherever and in whatever arrangement they like.

Read more on the benefits of the movable chair here.

Moveable chairs can enhance park visitors’ experiences

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership (2) Comments  

Market Square in Houston is among one of the most successful urban park renewal projects. Over the years, the Square transitioned from the city center’s historic district to a parking lot to a green area to art space, never having a real sense of purpose or welcoming. Yet in 2010, through collaboration and partnerships, the park was transformed. City government, local development groups, residents and property owners all came together and formed consensus on a plan for the park, designed to preserve its historical and artistic roots.

Project for Public Spaces was brought on board early in the process to lead the programming phase through a series of town hall meetings, focus groups and onsite evaluations. The City’s commitment to creating a focal point for the historic district and a sense of community by funding the entirety of the project is what allowed the project to move forward.

Today, a visitor can follow a black granite band through the park for a tour around the footprint of the old City Hall’s foundation. A rectangular lawn sits at the foundation’s center. The park’s cafe (selected through an RFP process) features outdoor seating and tables. Art and sculpture are abundant. And a crescent‐shaped dog run provides a welcoming place for dogs to play off-leash. The park is now brimming and bustling with friendly, safe, activity.

The key to the park’s event planning is partnerships. This enables the park to leverage events through collaborative planning, budgeting and co‐marketing. Events include a concert series, outdoor movies, dog training seminars, organized bike rides and historic and architectural tours. Special events are designed to drive traffic not only to the park, but also to the surrounding businesses.

Follow the transformation here.  Read the full case study here.