Moving to Jacksonville with the family in tow? Have school-age children who must acclimate to their new surroundings?
That can be a tall order on top of adjusting to a move. Luckily, kids sometimes are more resilient than us adults. They fold into new friendships, school groups and neighborhood hangouts with relative ease.
But, if you’d like to help them along by exploring your new hometown as a family, Jacksonville offers innumerable fun possibilities. We’ll get you started with a few suggestions.
Museum of Science & History
Located in downtown Jacksonville, “MOSH” is full of hands-on, interactive exhibits for all ages, with many of those exhibits geared specifically for kids. They’ll receive equal doses of technology, science, local history and pure gee-whiz learning that more than makes up for all the homework they might try to duck.
As an added benefit, the same exhibits are adult-friendly! Many change with the seasons, meaning there are always new things to experience. And “MOSH” also contains the Bryan Gooding planetarium, which is major gee-whiz territory for anyone.
Kids and adults alike will want to explore Sweet Pete’s, a downtown Jacksonville candy store and factory that’s far more than the usual retail establishment. Why? It’s 23,000 square feet.
That’s a lot of candy.
It’s also a candy factory which offers field trips to Jacksonville-area schools. There’s room for birthday parties and other events, candy-making classes and a dessert bar that features ice cream, Brookie’s Cookies from Pete’s sister Brooke, gourmet soda pop and much more.
It’s definitely a Jacksonville original. Owner and namesake Peter Behringer’s mother, Phyllis Geiger, founded Peterbrooke Chocolatiers in Jacksonville in 1985, naming it after Pete and his sister Brooke. Pete grew up the candy business and used that experience to dream up Sweet Pete’s in 2010.
A 2014 realty-TV show teaming with investor Marcus Lemonis — he of CNBC’s The Profit — helped Pete and his wife Allison take Sweet Pete’s to another level business-wise. And, to another location. Sweet Pete’s 2014 move downtown helped save a historic Jacksonville building. It now occupies the circa-1903 Seminole Club.
Note to adults: downtown parking can be tricky near Sweet Pete’s. Follow the directions on the store’s website.
Kayaking and Surfing Lessons
After indulging at Sweet Pete’s, everyone will need to work off the sugar high and calories. If your kids haven’t tried kayaking, paddleboarding or surfing — three Florida recreational staples — why not sign them up for lessons? With their permission, of course. And if the adults in your household haven’t tried those sports, why not make it a family affair?
There’s no shortage of places to search for instruction. Start with recommended surf shops out at Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. Marinas and eco-tour outfitters are good first stops for kayaking and paddleboarding inquiries (but don’t forget to ask at the surf shops, too).
If your kids need a dose of amusement-park fun (and are old enough), this might be your best bet locally. It’a a chain with other U.S. locations, but go-karts, video games, batting cages, miniature golf and the like are in one complex. There are three Jacksonville locations.
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