E2ride Bike Tour in the Riverside/Avondale section of Jacksonville rents bicycles for a 10-mile guided tour with stops at interesting spots in the Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods. Bikes are ideal for riding along the back roads and sidewalks with ease, and the pace never reaches strenuous levels, making the whole day a breeze. With large Southern-style homes on well-coiffed and tree-lined streets, riders can take in historic points and view and learn about Prairie, Colonial Revival, Victorian and Bungalow-style architecture. Friendly guides keep the tours light and fun, and snacks, water and safety equipment are provided for all riders. For warm spring days, there are few better ways to experience the bounty of Jacksonville history that exists in this neighborhood.
When Gerald Bennett began work as head chef at the InterContinental Hotel in Cleveland, he was accustomed to whipping up dishes for celebrity clientele. But when the royal family of Dubai came to visit and he served them in their opulent suite, he never thought they'd ask him to leave with them as their personal chef. Since returning to the states and stepping into his role as the president of the Private Chef Association, Gerald has worked to bring his gastronomic prowess to the masses through Food Fun Adventure’s classes and tours. He passes along a visible passion for culinary fusion, which shines through in dishes blending French and Thai or American and German influences.
Culinary tours take participants to local sushi houses, steak houses, and bistros, each highlighting specialty dishes. When head chefs come out to greet their visitors, they often divulge culinary secrets and answer questions about curfew hours for free-range ingredients while doling out tapas and other small plates.
In a more hands-on culinary experience, customers gather in classes and learn to refine dishes based on a chosen theme. Using mostly local and organic ingredients in two kitchen classrooms, chefs show students how to craft delicacies such as scallion waffles with orange-zest chicken and tagine-roasted rack of lamb. In one kitchen, which doubles as an art gallery, knives flick through ingredients, and pots clatter at island stations and small burners. The company’s event center, Heaven, fills with chatter as up to 40 pairs of students filter in. Beneath projectors for screening chef demonstrations and documentaries about the life of a paring knife, separate kitchens equipped with ovens and burners fill with the bustle of creation, which gives way to reverent exhalations as patrons finally sample the fruits of their labor.
With a portion of the proceeds benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Great City Race challenges city dwellers' problem-solving skills and knowledge of their hometown in a race that's both mentally and physically challenging. Crowds of colorfully dressed teams gather on the date of the race armed with a digital camera or cell phone to document each task that they perform. Using nothing but their feet, public transportation, and knowledge of the city, teams must solve 11 out of 12 clues and return to the starting line. The teams with the best times are rewarded for their efforts with prizes, and all participants go home with a T-shirt and swag bag to stow excess confidence.
A lantern glows softly up ahead, clenched in the undead hand of a ghost—or rather, an actor embodying a local ghost. A cluster of tour-goers follows the "ghost" and his lantern through streets, and alleyways as he reveals the tragedies that unfolded in them. This is the River City Haunts Ghost Tour, one of 65 historically based tours put on by AdLib Luxury Tours & Transportation. The walking and driving tours weave through different parts of Northeast Florida, focusing on cultural aspects. In addition to the tours, AdLib provides transportation for visitors in luxury coaches.
Since 2003, the Jacksonville Film Festival has annually served as one of the city's most anticipated cultural events, screening international and independent films and hosting some of Hollywood's most accomplished names. The first deal plunks cinephiles squarely on the red carpet with access to Saturday's special event, a screening of The Six Wives of Henry Lefay, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, and Andie MacDowell. Young film critics that already possess Roger Ebert's critical eye and Gene Shalit's bushy mustache can attend the kids' red-carpet event, which will screen the zany kid-friendly comedy Finn on the Fly. The third options gets you into the world premiere of Thespians, which documents the theater programs at two Duval County high schools as they prepare for the Florida State Thespians theater festival. Afterward, stay for a Q&A with the filmmakers and special guests.
As the engine stirs to life and the vessel floats away from port, "SALTY" cruises along the Ortega River just before requesting an opening and going under the Ortega River Bridge. The retired fishing boat was once a crab fishing vessel working out of Louisiana, but has since traded in its crab pots and yummy cargo for more festive features—namely, an on-board frozen drink machine and booming sound system. SALTY's modern incarnation makes it the ideal host for Island Party Entertainment’s Sunset and Party Cruises, which coast up and down St. John’s River and soak up sunsets at The Jacksonville Landing.