For more than 50 years, bowlers have hurled balls down Beach Bowl's gleaming lanes, vying to topple over groups of unwitting pins. By day, the alleys host friendly matches and kids’ birthday parties, and by night, they light up for cosmic bowling with day-glo stripes. To bowl higher scores, competitors can lubricate their minds with cocktails from the Strike Zone Lounge, and fuel up between frames with hot and cold sandwiches and snacks at the snack bar. Afterward, players can overturn losing games with a rematch at the foosball or pool tables in the arcade.
The spectrum of silliness is contained within three Adventure Landing attractions: race on go-karts in front of NASCAR-scout audiences, make a mark on frenemies in laser tag, or saunter and swing on the mini-golf course. (Laser tag is not available at the St. Augustine location.) Attempt each feat before going back for one last round of your two favorites, or use them all on a five-act go-kart play. The freedom of choice applies to how you use your five attractions; however, you must expunge the fun out of this factory's frenetic free-for-all in a single visit, making it a convenient way to happily exhaust over-energized tweens and tots.
Most people beat the heat by becoming sedentary: laying on the beach, lounging in a hammock, or sleeping on top of electric fans. But Jacksonville Beach Shipwreck Island Waterpark keeps customers cool in a more thrilling way. Besides the obligatory lazy river (720 feet long) and a 500,000 gallon wave pool, the park includes four extreme slides and other rides for kids of all ages.
Eye Catcher: Explore the Pirate's Play Village. Kids of all ages scamper up and down the attraction's three stories, descending down slides, blasting one another with water cannons, or cleaning their teeth with water nozzles.
For School-Age Kids: The Rage reaches speeds as high as 18 mph as it sends riders on a waterborne roller coaster ride.
For Older Kids: From 40 feet into the air, The Eye of the Storm drops riders into concentric circles before dropping them into eight feet of water.
For Toddlers: Kiddie Cove, a play area for the tiny set, features a splash pad and two small slides
Take a Break: The Wave Riders Grill serves snacks such as french fries, fruit, and popcorn
A year before her death in 1959, Ninah Cummer—an art collector, garden enthusiast, and civic leader—donated her riverfront home and art collection to the community, imploring her fellow citizens to help support the foundation of an art museum. In less than 10 years, the board of trustees transformed the abode into the verdant Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, adding to Ninah's original gift of 60 pieces until the collection included nearly 1,000 works of art.
Today, the permanent collection holds pieces that span more than four millennia, from 2,100 B.C. to the 21st century. An ancient Egyptian stone tablet intrigues viewers with cryptic hieroglyphs and stylized portraits while, nearby, Peter Paul Rubens' The Lamentation of Christ epitomizes the colorful, sweepingly histrionic style of the Baroque painters. American treasures include Gilbert Stuart's iconic portrait of George Washington—one of over 100 he painted in an attempt to perfect the likeness of the first president and design a killer mask for the White House Halloween party.
After getting their fill of indoor beauty, guests can head to the open air and vibrant scenery of the museum's gardens. Begun more than a century ago, the gardens crisscross with winding paths that take guests under the canopies of majestic oaks and alongside the Italian garden's shimmering reflecting pools.
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.
Culled from samples found in her own backyard, Madge Wallace exhibited her first small naturalist collection in her New Riverside School classroom in 1910. Her museum relocated to a Victorian mansion in the decades to follow before settling on its current location on the south bank of the St. Johns River. Known as Museum of Science & History since 1988, the facility currently hosts changing and core exhibits that feature towering marine skeletons and interactive stations strewn through a mock digestive tract where visitors learn about bodily functions. At Currents of Time, history buffs can amass nuggets of local knowledge as they trace Jacksonville's history to more than 12,000 years ago. Elsewhere, The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium's 35,000-watt sound system enthralls guests at Cosmic Concert laser shows every Friday night, and monthly MOSH After Dark sessions educate adults with hands-on workshops and scientific lectures.