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
Visit to The Jacksonville Landing (2 Independent Dr.)
Lunch at the Jacksonville Landing is easy. Choose from American Grill, Fionn MacCool’s, Chicago Pizza, Cinco 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.)
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.