High-profile destinations often cite their high ratings on TripAdvisor, which named e2ride bike tours Jacksonville’s No. 1 attraction. However, few boast that they were highly rated by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her iconic novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is credited with helping to ignite the Civil War, but most of her opinions on travel have been lost to the ages—except on the company’s historical bike tour of Olde Mandarin. As the tour group winds past the lush area’s museums and public parks, the tour guide notes that Stowe dubbed the area “a tropical paradise.”
On the company’s other tours, guides offer equally juicy historical tidbits, such as that Riverside-Avondale was originally only occupied by just two homeowners or that Truman Capote vacationed in Springfield. As they learn about the past, groups cycle down present-day roads lined with homes in styles ranging from Tudor and Georgian to Star Warsian.
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.
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.
Atlantic Aviation's FAA-certified flight instructors teach students the basics of flying from the pilot's seat of a Redbird flight simulator. Digital screens wrap around an enclosed cockpit, allowing students to practice flight patterns as they experience authentic motion from a moving platform. Always tailoring training to students' needs and ambitions, pilots and advanced-instrument ground instructors can help customers achieve goals of any degree, from learning the mechanics of flight in intro lessons to completing courses toward licensing.
The knowledgeable guides at TourTime lead groups of curious local gapers and touring out-of-towners throughout northern Florida, offering hearty doses of entertaining facts on the region’s sights and history along the way. The private three-hour Jacksonville tour—which culminates with beer and pretzel sampling at the Anheuser-Busch brewery—begins with verbal perambulations through the history of the area’s first inhabitants, the Timuquan, and their fabled offerings of alligator-skin piñatas to French and Spanish colonizers. Cruise the River City’s downtown to eye the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars before visiting the Riverside/Avondale area and Florida’s first condos—originally known as “house larvae”—along with several historical homes, such as the Leon Cheek residence and the Marble House, made from Georgia–quarried marble and actual marbles. Along the way, tour takers are treated to tales of the Great Fire of 1901 and views of notable landmarks such as the Memorial Wall.
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.