No Pass Needed Series-- Jacksonville

So if you follow this blog regularly, you've probably noticed that I've been missing in action for a few months. Well, I was busy creating life; this February, we welcomed an adorable baby girl to our family. She's our first as well as the first grandbaby on both sides, so you can imagine how spoiled she is already! Anyway, so that leads me to the subject of this post: Jacksonville. We never got the chance to go on what they call a "babymoon", so we decided to spend the little lady's first Easter in Jacksonville. A few times a week, a new wife in one of my Facebook groups asks about things to do near Fort Stewart besides in Hinesville and Savannah. And since Jacksonville is about 115 miles away and, therefore, on the list of cities that don't require the soldiers here at Fort Stewart to request a pass, I thought it might be fun to detail our experience as part of my "No Pass Needed" series.

So, first things first, where we stayed. It came down to a choice between the Sawgrass Marriott (where we attended a marriage retreat the year before last) and the Omni Hotel in downtown Jacksonville (where we spent our honeymoon). Both hotels are beautiful and both offer a military discount, but the Omni's discount beat out the Marriott's so that's where we decided to stay. The Omni is located right across the way from Jacksonville Landing and just a few blocks from the San Marco neighborhood which is home to some amazing restaurants. Our stay was awesome; all of the hotel staff was friendly and extremely helpful. The room was nice-sized, and the food was pretty good too (our first morning there, we ordered room-service instead of venturing out to find breakfast; a nice healthy serving of omelet and the biggest, fluffiest, sweetest pancakes I've had in a while). Everyone, from the guy at the front desk to the valet had suggestions for fun things to do in the area as well as great places to eat without even asking which I thought was a nice.

budweiser brewery tour
Taking a look at the HUGE assembly line behind the scenes. It took up the entire room!!
Okay, so what we did. Like I said, we've been to Jacksonville before, but with a newborn joining us we weren't able to enjoy the nightlife like we normally would. So, we had to find other things to entertain us that were still baby friendly. (turns out, there's a lot; she was only seven weeks at the time, and a pretty easy guest). Friday after breakfast, we wondered around Jacksonville Landing for a few hours. I think it's more of a nighttime area; it was pretty quiet and sparsely populated accept for a few other families with young kids like us. But a nice walk, nonetheless. After that, we headed over to the Budweiser Brewery (I didn't even know there was a Budweiser brewery in Jacksonville until I looked it up!) for a tour. Unfortunately, the guided tour ($10 for adults, $5 for kids) was cancelled for the day BUT turns out you can take your own unguided tour for FREE! Who knew? So, after accepting a complimentary plastic cup of beer upon entering, we wondered around the brewery, read the various plaques posted throughout the building detailing Budweiser's brewing process and just enjoyed the afternoon. By the way, I feel like Budweiser gets a lot of flack from so-called beer aficionados but their brewing process is actually pretty involved. I've never had a can of Bud but, straight from the tap, it was pretty good!

Note: if you're planning a trip to the brewery and want the whole experience, consider taking the Brewmaster Tour. These are $30 a person and have to be booked a few days in advance, but they're way more behind-the-scenes then the free version.

moxie appetizers
Super yummy app at Moxie: pimiento cheese toast!
Planning a trip to Jacksonville and wondering where to eat? Oh my God, where to even start! My favorite spot was Moxie, located in the St. Johns Town Center (an awesome spot with great shopping and unique, fun restaurants). Be sure to make reservations; they're apparently a really popular restaurant and we only got in by the skin of our teeth. It was a nice afternoon so we agreed to sit at their downstairs patio. It. Was. Amazing. I had the chicken and waffles (which I never order, but the waiter made it sound so yummy!) which featured dollops of a kind of mousse made from maple syrup and cream and a crazy good sweet pepper drizzle. The hubby enjoyed the croissant bread pudding at BB's (a cute little place just blocks from our hotel in the San Marco neighborhood.)

A few other attractions to keep in mind if you're visiting Jacksonville:

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
We didn't get a chance to visit because it was raining (we checked out The Avenues mall instead where I tasted my first pink moscato slushie) but we'll get to it one of these days. $18 for adults, $13 for kids with a 10% military discount. Upcoming events include the Party For the Planet and Citizen Science Day on the 16th of April and the 2016 Garden and Wine Festival on April 30th and May 1st.

Jacksonville "Hands On" Children's Museum
We can't wait until the little lady is old enough to enjoy this museum! Tickets are super cheap: $4 ages 1-3, $5.50 for everyone else.

St. Augustine!
Basically a weekend trip all by itself. If you don't mind the 30-45 minute drive outside the city, St. Augustine is a lovely, historic town (kind of reminds me of downtown Savannah) featuring cute little shops, interesting eateries and, of course, ghost tours for those brave enough to partake. You can take a sunrise or moonrise tour at the Saint Augustine Lighthouse and Museum (enjoy hors d'oeuvres, champagne, and breathtaking views). Or you can visit Marineland Dolphin Adventures for a look at the dolphins doing what they do (basically being adorable). General admission is $13 for adults, $8 for kids. For a more up close and personal experience, $35 will buy an opportunity to feed and pet the dolphins (sign me up!!)

Have you visited Jacksonville? Share your favorite haunts below!

Hinesville Lifestyle (the Jacksonville Edition)
Where to eat (Dude. Salted caramel pancakes. Need I say more?)
What to do (Beside what's mentioned in this post? Check out the city's calendar of events)
Where to live
Where to shop (in case you need new clothes for your upcoming trip)


  1. Hey! I have missed you! Congratulations on the baby! That is so exciting!!!


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