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So what can you do when traveling on a budget in Jax? We have some a wide range of activities at reasonable prices.
Baseball, especially minor league baseball, is back for 2021! Not only will there be fans in the stands, but the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp received a promotion and are now the Triple A affiliate for the Miami Marlins. With single-game tickets averaging around $10 (or less!), plenty of ballpark cheap eats and other freebies like Friday night fireworks — it’s one of the best family-friendly bangs for your buck in town.
Our museums represent a tremendous value every day, but imagine having the opportunity to view a classic masterwork from Peter Paul Rubens at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens for free. The Cummer is free to patrons on the first Saturday of each month, as well as on Tuesday and Friday evenings. Guests also looking to explore their creative side can join the Cummer during the Studio on the Go: Drop-In Art Making activity on the third Saturday of each month, which is free with museum admission.
You can’t leave town without a memento, or two(!) to remind you of your amazing stay on the First Coast. Spending your Saturday morning at the Riverside Arts Market, Florida’s largest free weekly festival, will save you time and money while supporting local crafters, artisans and food vendors. Nosh on fresh pastries from 1748 Bakehouse or stuffed empanadas from La Bodega Original while you shop. Although the list of vendors can change on a weekly basis, you’ll always find paintings or fine art photography of our region for sale, as well as jewelry, candles and more. The website posts an interactive map each week so you can check out the vendors ahead of time.
Don’t just Park It
Yes, it’s always tempting to just chill on vacation. But Jax’s amazing number of city, state and national parks are perfect for a day out. Tired of lugging all your gear to the beach? Check out Hanna Park, which allows drivers to park right on the beach and set up camp for the day with minimal effort. (P.S. Just remember to keep an eye for high tide.) Kids can cool off after a long day in the sun at a splash pad at Jacksonville Beach’s Sunshine Park or at Murray Hill Park. Those looking for a long walk under live oaks dripping with Spanish moss on trails bordered by saw palmetto can head to the 7 Creeks Recreation Area on the city’s far north side which unites seven of the city’s lesser known parks. There you’ll get a true glimpse of Real Florida that includes dense forested paths, gorgeous waterfront views and kayak and boat launches. If you have a teen who’s more interested in letting the good times roll — on four wheels, that is — check out Kona Skatepark’s sprawling network of ramps. As one of the longest operating skateboarding parks in the country, Kona has been creating memories for generations of thrill seekers.
Cocktails … with a View
You want a reason to wear your favorite LBD for a swanky night on the town while not breaking the bank on dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants. You’re in luck. Black Sheep, River & Post and Cowford Chophouse all boast rooftop decks perfect for cocktails, light bites and three of the best skyline sunset views in Jax.
Eye of the Tiger
At $45 per person, Catty Shack Ranch’s weekend night feeding might seem a little steep. But how often do you get to stare a tiger in the eye as it paces back and forth waiting for dinner and then be close enough to hear the occasional purring sounds of contentment while it feasts. Plus, your money is a donation that allows the wildlife sanctuary’s animals to receive top-notch food, daily nutritional supplements and veterinary care. Those looking for a true budget-friendly option, can attend one of the guided afternoon tours which are only $12 for adults and $5 for children.
Dinner with Kids
Meals out during vacation can start to add up, especially for families. Adults can still indulge in great eats at these favorites while taking advantage of special discounts locals love. European Street Cafe offers a free kid’s meal with an adult meal every day. Meanwhile, The Loop Pizza & Grill offers $1.99 kids’ meals with an adult entree on Mondays.
Go for a Flight
No, not the kind that requires a pilot. The kind that usually comes with four sample-size pours of some of the city’s best craft brews. Jax’s beer scene has exploded in the last decade and a budget-friendly way to sample your way through our breweries is by ordering — and maybe even splitting or sharing — a flight instead of a pint. Where should you go? What should you try? We highly recommend one of these top indie brewers: Main & Six (Handsworth Brown Ale), Southern Swells (Karate in the Garage), Green Room (Count Shakula), Aardwolf (Belgian Pale Ale) and Wicked Barley (Beach Buzz).
#onlyinJax Photo Ops
Seriously, our beaches are amazing. Especially at sunrise. And while we know that your vacation memories will include spectacular beach pics, some of the best Jacksonville-specific photo memories are within a 10-mile radius around downtown. Pose your children on one of the Treaty Oak’s outstretched arms at Jessie Ball duPont Park or with San Marco Square’s famous lions. Then, pop on over to Riverside’s Memorial Park for a sunset picture of Charles Adrian Pillars’ statue Life before ending the day on downtown Jacksonville’s south bank to frame the city’s skyline with the multicolored lights of Friendship Fountain. You’ll also have a perfect view of the Acosta Bridge’s new $2.6 million dollar LED light installation which spans 4,000 feet. The lights are themed specifically for different events, including the holidays.
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