The red and black ship cuts through the waters of Matanzas Bay, its sails waving in the wind. On deck, members of a pirate crew call one another by names such as Oly Mackarel, Jaybird, Anastasia, Clipper, and Dirty James as they cavort between bow and stern, dazzling their audiences. Their ship, the Black Raven, was designed as a floating live performance theater—and accommodates more than 120 passengers as a crew of performers in full buccaneer dress produce interactive and dynamic plays in the spotlight. The actors work the crowd with a variety of rehearsed but unscripted skits, geared toward audiences of all ages, and may change their performance to engage specific audience members.
With a dizzying worldwide selection of craft beers and wines, J.P. Henley's fuels a traditional neighborhood-pub atmosphere augmented by a menu of indulgently inventive eats. Parse through the eclectic holdings of 50 custom-designed beer taps and 24 wines by the glass, and begin your gastronomic grub hunt with shrimp and mushroom empanadas ($8.95) or chevre crostini, piled with roasted grape tomatoes, warm goat cheese, and sweet-basil pesto ($6.95). A Voga pinot grigio pairs well with JP's Moroccan eggplant salad ($8.95), and a Brooklyn Black Ops Imperial Stout keeps pace with a hearty Harvest Moon sandwich, an autumnal feast of roasted turkey, sliced apples, provolone, and cranberry aioli ($8.95). Ward off carb-weary vampires with a Rising Sun sandwich, a rooster-certified fusion of grilled ahi, marinated tomatoes, and wasabi cream dressing dressed in spring greens and perched between slices of herb foccacia ($9.95).
Owned by Jack Holleran and Kristin Orr, the garage-themed neighborhood bar churns out hot-pressed grilled panini sandwiches crafted atop house-made pizza bread and washed down with domestic and specialty microbrews. The cash-only Jackson's Garage Bar refreshes patrons' knowledge of dead presidents and keeps a keen focus on specialty import and craft beer. When not squeezed fresh from the tap, brews flow freely from their aluminum casings, which rein superior over glass bottles because they filter out sunlight, lock in flavor, and provide a more structurally sound building block for beer pyramids.Inside the industrial setting, stools line up along a wooden bar decorated with sheet metal, and wall-hung road signs guide brews into glasses as working traffic lights keep motorcycles from popping bar-top wheelies. A leather couch seats patrons at a magazine-riddled table, and patio chairs curl up under the cozy awning of round tables. Live music pours from the instruments of live bands that occasionally play at the garage, and Shakespearean insults pour from the mouths of dart wielders and foosball shooters on a daily basis.
A pair of sports fans opened Taps Bar & Grill in the hopes of harboring fellow fanatics seeking cold brews, fresh-from-the-grill pub fare, and good company while watching games. Even though it was only opened in 2008, the restaurant’s success quickly led to the opening of a second location, and today the Jacksonville and Fleming Island haunts lure in diners and mothmen with the glow of ample TV screens. Barkeeps draw brews from 54 taps, which rotate to pour seasonal and eclectic microbrews and ales. In the kitchen, chefs grill hand-patted half-pound burgers served with hand-cut fries or beer-battered onion rings. Some evenings, musicians thump drums and wring melodies out of guitar necks during live performances.
Allowing for occasional naps in a plush theater armchair or across a leather bowling lounge, it's conceivable that you could stay within Latitude 30's 50,000-square-foot entertainment emporium for days without falling victim to boredom. The roar of the crowd fills a 100-seat sports theater as fans track the main event on the 12.5-foot jumbotron, taking advantage of commercial breaks to eye the 13 surrounding HD screens and keep up with the scores of important football games and spelling bees. At CineGrille, another vast HD screen plays current adventure flicks and romantic comedies as guests enjoy legroom fit for a very tall king. Meanwhile, waitstaff quietly delivers an extensive menu of prime rib kebab, pizza, and gourmet burgers.
For more active entertainment, pins thunder in the 20-lane bowling alley, and at the arcade, players compete on big-screen video games or work redemption games to win prizes ranging from Legos to PlayStations. Colored lights spill across comedians, musical acts, and DJs at the Vegas–inspired Latitude Live before the Axis Bar keeps the party going with drinks and dancing.