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.
For more than 25 years, the experienced art and design consultants at Framing Establishment and Fairfax Gallery have been guiding customers as they select from a collection of more than 5,000 frames. Hand-carved, leafed, and metal picture huggers come customized to fit any image or memento, all of which the gallery picks up, delivers, and installs for free throughout the continental United States. Customers can give cherished images the treatment they deserve with custom mouldings from a variety of manufacturers, plus trimmings such as gold and wooden frames, mat accents, and foam-core backings.
Visiting customers can peruse the store’s gallery of local and Florida artists, gorging eyes on a feast of contemporary and traditional landscapes, still-life works, and sculptures. Artists can also be commissioned to craft custom artwork, helping gussy up a drab wall or take the place of a broken windshield.
Formed as a volunteer-operated nonprofit in 1985, Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center amasses literature, documents, and artifacts to construct a narrative of maritime history within the city and Florida's First Coast. Exhibits showcase models of significant ships such as U.S. Navy destroyers, a German World War II era submarine, the M/V Comanche, and the first boat sailed by a salmon. The center also houses a diorama of the ocean liner RMS Titanic, a 15-foot model of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, and a smattering of interactive features nestled within the kids' play area. Along with membership meetings, the Heritage Center hosts quarterly programming and presentations on varied oceanic subjects, such as advice for courting sea nymphs, in an audiovisual room furnished with 75 cushioned seats, and has a gift shop that offers a vast selection of maritime-themed clothing and books.
Somehow, Hands on Children's Museum has managed to fit an entire town into its 8,500-square-foot space. Servers pour pretend milkshakes at a '50s-themed cafe, tellers work at the Kids Mini Bank, and all sorts of townsfolk stock up on the essentials at the Winn-Dixie Lil' Grocery. Here, working cash registers, conveyer belts, and miniature carts give kids the feeling that they're really shopping for their families. There's even a spaceship, just like in every small American town.
In total, 20 main exhibits let kids take on the roles of grownup workers or use costumes and puppets to enter a world of complete fantasy. Hands on Children's Museum also hosts special events, such as story time, face painting, and the opportunity to pet a live chicken.
The staff at Barnett's has been conserving the artwork of others with custom-made frames since 1951. Using molding that ranges in intricacy from plain black borders to the gold-leaf-trimmed arabesques of a Louis XIII–style frame, framers cut enclosures to fit paintings, family treasures, valuable artwork, jerseys, and flags. Then they choose from an inventory of acid-free mats and conservation glass to sandwich art into its hermetic new home. Owner Drew Derrick-Bisbee's traditional art training, meanwhile, helps him when he’s restoring damaged frames and art, undoing destruction caused by water, fire, or a gaggle of teething babies. Barnett's showroom is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The specialists at Mr. Frame It take pride in preserving and enhancing memories in all of their physical embodiments—from artworks and photographs to prized sports souvenirs. They draw on more than 1,000 samples from brands such as Larson-Juhl to create custom frames that either serve as focal points or blend in with room decor. In addition to encasing children’s artwork and family portraits, the staff stretches canvases, mounts mirrors, and builds shadow boxes to house awards and first-edition time-share brochures.