Located on Jacksonville’s south side, The Comedy Zone has been hosting some of the nation’s finest standup comedians for decades. Tucked away inside the Ramada Conference Center and Hotel, the Comedy Zone is a quaint, dim, charming nightclub venue filled with cozy tables and chairs. The thick carpet underfoot cushions the space further and keeps noisy shoes and squeaky chairs to a minimum. The small, gleaming wood stage is back-dropped by a large brick wall, reminiscent of so many other famous comedy clubs. Over the years, the stage has played host to a variety of national touring comedians and lots of local Florida talent. A full bar and a variety of burgers, sandwiches and appetizers are available to order, and can count toward the room’s industry-standard one drink or item minimum. Of course, that means comedy fans must be at least 21 years of age to enter the Zone.
Jacks or Better Casino explores the waters stretching from the Mayport area down the coast. The boat stretches 155 feet from stem to sternum and contains a whale-sized supply of Vegas-style casino gaming. Deft dealers engage lucky streaks on a variety of table games, from blackjack and roulette to traditional poker, video poker, and fireplace poker. With visions of cherries and triple-bars dancing in their heads, slots fanatics sidle up to dual-screen Modern Gaming slots such as Four Leaf Fortunes and Jackpot Galaxy. Jacks or Better's slots paid out jackpots totaling $3 million in 2011. Special events and attractions include a craps tutorial with limits ranging from $5 to $1,000, ensuring comfortable stakes for anyone, from the novice dice slinger to the local Yahtzee grandmaster.
A massive big-screen television casts a festive glow across Wing City’s dining room. Pitchers of beer slosh atop tables next to sizzling plates of finger food, including wings doused in 20 types of sauce. Specialty sandwiches, such as classic burgers and philly cheesesteaks, provide filling meals or tasty footballs in case patrons are inspired to go long.
The show will commence with performances from up-and-coming singer-songwriters Alex Wong and Vienna Tang before Carlile takes the stage of the restored 1920s-era theater. The Washington State–native songstress's melodic acoustic-guitar-based music blends rock and country into soft folk tunes that have been featured in commercials and on TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy, and the experienced show-woman has toured with the likes of Sheryl Crow and Ray LaMontagne. Your Groupon is good for one ticket in the 100, 200, 300, or 400 orchestra-level sections of the intimate, 1,900-seat theater, and seats are issued on a first-come, first-served basis at will-call, so arrive early to get up close.
Taps Bar & Grill calms rambunctious appetites with an expansive menu of freshly made American pub fare backed by potent potables including 24 beers on tap. The rotating draft brews ($3.50+), including Stone IPA and Stella Artois, flow obligingly from taps to lend hoppy flair to fried pickle chips ($6.99), while piquant buffalo wings ($8.99 for 10) dress up maroon-colored glasses of pinot noir ($6). Andouille spicy sausages, gouda, and cheddar cheese are layered over grits with pan-seared shrimp ($10.99), as cutlery trained in conflict resolution unites surf with turf on plates of new york strip steak and fresh Mayport shrimp ($17.99). Preteen sidekicks can fuel growth spurts with inoculations of mac 'n' cheese ($3.95), while age barriers crumble decisively in the face of ice-cream-laced brownie sundaes ($4.99).