As one of the world’s largest beer brewers, this Jacksonville outpost of Anheuser Busch is surprisingly open about its process. The looming facility offers free tours on how they brew and package Budweiser, with guests catching glimpses of the state-of-the-art technology, giant tanks, carefully controlled temperature rooms and bottling and packaging facilities, all of which can be seen through glass viewing windows. There’s also information on the recycling program, energy recovery and conservation of wildlife in the surrounding Jacksonville wetlands. After the tour, stop in the hospitality room and sample some beer. For the truly curious, the more in-depth Beermaster Tour is for true connoisseurs and a one-off Beer School class introduces patrons to different beer styles, proper pouring and a variety of craft beer and food pairings. There’s also a gift shop on hand, and occasional events take place on the property.
One could travel across the world and still not taste as many wines as Corner Bistro has. Sourced from France, Italy, Portugal, and across the United States, the list of more than 100 wines pairs equally with light lunch cuisine such as vegetarian Corner sandwiches or dinner offerings that include braised short ribs and scallops Victoria with truffle-lobster mac 'n' cheese. On Sunday, the bistro unveils a brunch menu populated by an enormous spread of crab cakes benedict, omelets stuffed with bacon and brie, and belgian waffles topped with berries, maple syrup, and Grand Marnier cream. On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at 9 p.m., guests can join Matt "Piano Man" Hall as he croons about rieslings and recounts the time he thumb-wrestled Billy Joel for his nickname.
For three days, the Jacksonville International Car & Truck Show turns the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center into the nation’s most exciting parking lot. Deluxe rides from the likes of Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche dazzle attendees with sleek lines and plush interiors, and innovative autos such as the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt show off their efficient electric engines. The newest models from more than 25 other manufacturers line the floor, doors open for guests to lean back in the seats or measure how large a ham can fit in the glove compartment. During daylight hours, a lineup of drivable cars idle outside to give curious patrons the chance to try their dream rides.
Equipped with in-depth product knowledge and bottles from all over the world, the consultants of PRP Wine International waltz into homes ready to answer nearly any question a novice oenophile may have. As they pour samples for small groups, they explain everything from the intricacies of flavor profiles and the correct pronunciation of “pinot noir” to the most dramatic way to throw a glass of red at a mortal enemy. After tastings, guests can select any of the wine varietals sampled, all of which are chosen by PRP consultants after thorough scrutiny.
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.
Mardi Gras Jax celebrates Mardi Gras with a themed pub crawl across eight bars and restaurants, recreating the Bourbon Street experience without the hassle of cramming an entire parade float into an overhead compartment. A ticket earns proto-revelers a wristband for admission that yields discount drink specials, automatic entry into numerous prize drawings, and a handy way to differentiate between right and left. A souvenir drink glass and beads decorate participants like a belt over a boxer's shoulder, and scavenger-hunt maps and cards give clues that will lead an industrious partier to the mysterious grand prize. The after-party, hosted by Bo's Coral Reef, serves drinks until 2 a.m. and features the crowning of a king and queen of Mardi Gras Jax—fledgling potentates gain a hefty reward for their newfound royalty and an ethanol-fueled crowning ceremony to make it official––and the costume contest rewards eccentrically outfitted participants. The grand prize of the evening is a cruise for two from Budweiser, perfect for a happy couple, bonding siblings, or a probation officer and ward.