St. Marys Submarine Museum's collection of nearly 20,000 artifacts, paintings, and historical documents showcases man’s enthralling endeavors beneath the sea. Housed in a century-old building, the historical museum shelters a vast quantity of World War II patrol reports and command-history files. Throughout the two-story, 4,500-square-foot facility, museum-goers gaze upon artifacts, including boat models, an old torpedo, and posters encouraging Loch Ness monsters to enlist. Drawings from '40s-era training manuals delight visiting duos with a peek into the past that fuels excited chatter. A working periscope extends 40 feet above the ground and awards views of Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida from the center's waterfront location. The museum's collection grants guests a look back at national history and a way to honor fallen sailors.
The Amelia Island Museum of History is the fortuitous result of circumstance. In 1975, a committee from the Duncan Lamont Clinch Historical Society gathered to found a history museum for Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island. Meanwhile, local collector William Decker was studiously acquiring historical documents and artifacts from the area—a lot whose pieces numbered in the thousands. When Decker died, the collection passed on to his son, a noted altruist, and just like that the Amelia Island Museum had its bones.
Today, the museum's exhibits examine local culture of the Timucua Native American tribe, Spanish and French explorers, pirates, and Victorian-era residents. Curators have assembled the Women of the Port photography display to highlight women working in the local maritime industry.
Museum guides are not restricted to the grounds, and often helm tours of the island's haunted locales, historic Centre Street, and Fernandina Beach's north end—with a focus on history from the mid-18th to 19th centuries.
When the Jacksonville Zoo first opened in 1914, it had only one attraction––a red fawn. Today, nearly a century later, it’s home to more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plant species, and welcomes an ever-changing lineup of visiting exhibits. Guests stroll along the boardwalk in a large, open environment called the Plains of East Africa, where cheetah, antelope, and warthogs roam in environs that simulate their native habitat. The African loop also includes Elephant Plaza, where elephants stir up tidal waves playing marco polo in a 275,000-gallon pool. Visitors can also pet and feed stingrays, stand eye-to-eye with a giraffe, and head to the award-winning Range of the Jaguar exhibit to roam a replica of an abandoned Mayan temple. During summer months, kids get wet at the Play Park and Splash Ground, where they can climb into a treehouse or peer through an underwater window to see penguins swimming overhead.
After guests explore the wildlife, rest and relaxation await within botanical gardens such as the Asian Bamboo garden, where patrons cross a traditional moon gate to see a tranquil waterfall, komodo dragons, and an interactive bamboo mist forest. The zoo also features a carousel, train rides, and several restaurants where humans can tap into their own wild instincts by hunting their natural prey—the sandwich.
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.
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.