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A picnic lunch is the classic family activity that we often forget about! It doesn't have to be one of those perfectly-planned picnics pictured in magazines with cute finger foods and an unattainable charm. A real, sometimes messy, dirt-on-the-blanket, play-for-hours, enjoy-the-outdoors-picnic, maybe even made up of nothing more than a couple of peanut butter sandwiches, can make for the perfect day.
There are some wonderful places to picnic in the Jacksonville area that have playgrounds, lots of shade and nearby bathrooms. If the weather won't cooperate, a picnic atop a blanket in the living room will thrill the kiddos, too!
Here are some outdoor options to try...
1. St. Johns River North Bank River Walk - Park at the Jacksonville Landing and then walk east to the Regency Hyatt along the river! Enjoy views of the yachts that dock, birds flying past, and our beloved river.
2. Friendship Fountain on the St. Johns River - Friendship fountain is on the southbank riverwalk of the St. Johns River adjacent to the Museum of Science and History, opposite of the Jacksonville Landing. This large fountain is a fixture for all Jacksonville children while on fieldtrips to MOSH. Enjoy a visit to the museum and then break at Friendship Fountain for a picnic lunch.
3. St. Johns River South Bank Riverwalk - This one mile, zig zag boardwalk opposite the Jacksonville Landing has views of the river boats, birds and manatees if you get lucky! Talk a walk and then grab a bench and enjoy our beloved river.
4. Treaty Oak at Jessie Ball DuPont Park - This over 200 year old live oak is the perfect setting for a picnic. Plenty of shade and the kids will be amazed by the size and expanse of the tree branches. Photo cred: www.panoramio.com
5. Hemming Park - Visit the Jacksonville City Center and play on the imagination station blocks or visit the One Spark shark while enjoying a picnic lunch or tasting a new food truck! Ride the FREE skyway and enjoy dessert with a visit to Sweet Pete's Candy! The park offers FREE Toddler Tuesdays starting at 9:30am and the every third Wednesday Picnic in Hemming Park with Fun4FirstCoastKids.com from 10:30am - noon!
6. Memorial Park Riverside - Walk along the St. Johns River in Riverside on the sidewalk or play in the grassed areas in this local spot!
7. Unity Plaza Riverside - This new urban park is part of the Brooklyn neighborhood Riverside revitalization. They have activities every day of the year, including many yoga classes and a Fun4FirstCoastKids.com Family Nature Hunt that you can do at anytime with the clues on our blog! Walk around the water and picnic on the steps!
8. Head to the Beach - Head to Jacksonville Beach at the pier where the kids can run after the shore birds, you can walk on the pier, and you can enjoy the fresh air and sun! Bring your suits in the summer, or enjoy the empty beaches in the winter! (Photo cred: www.best-florida-beaches.org)
9. Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve - This undisturbed beach has no homes and the dunes are 30 ft tall! Enjoy a picnic on the beach side at one of three parking areas that provide dune walk overs, or head to the Guana Dam where you can watch the fishermen catching redfish and crabs and the wading birds looking for fish, too!
10. Julington-Durbin Preserve - This 2,000 acre property is a wilderness preserve in Jacksonville! It offers hiking, biking, trail running, horseback riding, and you can hike to see the Durbin Creek, a tributary that leads to the St. Johns River! Follow clues for a Fun4FirstCoastKids.com Family Nature Hunt hike and then picnic at the tables at the entrance!
11. Balis Park - This San Marco park has the historic lions sculpture, a cuppola to sit under, and a sculpture of kids playing whimsically. A quintessential Jacksonville spot at this newly restored park.
Just remember, a picnic doesn't have to be perfect. Just grab a blanket, throw some snacks in a bag, and explore what's right in our backyard! Oh, and a backyard picnic is always fun too! What are your favorite picnic spots in #ilovejax? Please share below!