Originally Published by Advantage Business Magazine
Even if you have lived and worked in North Florida for a while, you may not have explored her treasures from a floating perspective. Cue the Jimmy Buffett music!
Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same. With all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.
For those of you that have a rhyme in your head you might be starting to get it! Add a quality boat, cold beverage of choice and your favorite crew and it’s a recipe for a great time in North Florida and on the water.
Where to begin? Consider these on-the-water destinations for a boating adventures this summer. Even if you don’t own a boat, don’t worry, There is an alternative!
Did you know that you can pull your boat right up to the dock at the award-winning Jacksonville Zoo? Located on the Trout River, you can spend a whole day exploring the 117 acres that over 2,000 animals call home. Since you will already be wearing your bathing suits, turn the kids loose in the 4000 square foot splash park.
Imagine starting your day off right by boarding your boat with cup of coffee in hand on a pleasant summer morning. Today you are on the way to the Riverside Arts Market downtown. You have plenty of dock space to pull up at your leisure and take in the best of Jacksonville’s outdoor arts, food, culture and entertainment.
A newcomer on the Goodbys Creek waterway, Wicked Barley is a brand new brewery that promises a locally sourced menu to please the most demanding foodie. Come thirsty too! They have 10 different craft ales to choose from that are brewed right here in J-ville. Docks are brand new and the grand opening is this summer.
Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all. That’s what you’ll get at the Shands sandbar. Located just south of the Shands bridge, it’s a quiet spot that time forgot. Just a sandy beach and native Florida vegetation behind it. Nobody is going to bother you here. Toss out an anchor and chillax. Don’t forget to turn off that cellphone, you deserve the downtime!
Located on Six Mile Creek, that’s about how long their dock is. You won’t have any problem finding space to secure your lines here. Expect good old-fashioned seafood on paper plates at the Outback Crabshack. Sit outside on the picnic tables and place your order for piles of steamed shrimp, crawfish, corn, melted butter and hush puppies. You won’t leave hungry, that’s for sure. This is what living in Florida is all about!
The best place to watch a sunset on the east coast is, without any doubt, Caps. Located north of Vilano Beach on the Intracoastal Waterway, you will love this famous eatery. They kept the generations old cedar trees in place and built a deck around them. Kids can look for hermit crabs on the beach 10 feet from your table. See honey, livin’ in Florida ain’t so bad!
You can channel your inner Huckleberry Finn when you pull up by boat to the Julington Creek rope swing. Guaranteed to keep your kids entertained for hours, this is a must stop for any adventurer. After the kids have had their fill of wakeboarding and tubing, stop by here for some pure summertime entertainment. Get the camera out and be ready for those “hold my beer” moments.
No parking, no problem. You’re going by water! Pull up to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina and for $4 per hour, you can dock and walk into the United States’ oldest city. Founded in 1565, you are just steps away from a 17th century fort, the oldest wooden schoolhouse and the fountain of youth. How cool is that?
Is that all? Heck no. There are lots of undiscovered gems and fun to have via the North Florida waterways. It’s hard to find someone that knows more about boating in Jacksonville than Lisa Almeida. She owns the local franchise of Freedom Boat Club, part of a network of over 100 locations across north America. Whether in St. Augustine or Julington creek, she has more than 45 boats that her members can choose from. Members show up with the boat in the water, gassed up and ready to go. Her team handles everything from refueling to cleaning. All that her clients have to do is enjoy the water..
I feel fortunate we live in such a water centric community. I feel sorry for those landlubbers. They just don’t get how much fun we have out here! says Almedia. As a kid, I grew up waterskiing in these waters and I still look forward to the adventure every time I cast away the lines.