Jacksonville Museums

Jacksonville Travel Blog

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Fort Caroline

It was cold this morning. So much for hoping for warmth.

I got up despite the cold and headed out. I stopped at the Beach Diner in Atlantic Beach for breakfast. It is only two blocks from the hotel and is a very traditional diner. The food was good -- not special or fancy, but inexpenive, filling, and tasty. It was exactly what I wanted.

After breakfast I headed toward a place I have never been before -- Fort Caroline National Memorial. Fort Caroline represents the attempt of France to establish a colony in what is now Florida. The Spanish in St. Augustine were not thrilled about the idea of a French colony in Florida, so they attached the French colonists and destroyed Fort Caroline.

Timucuan Owl
The memorial consists of a recreation of the fort, a column erected in honor of the French commander, Jean Ribault, a recreation of a Timucuan hut (the Timucuans were the Amerindians whom the French found when the landed), and, most impressive, the largest Amerindian wooden effigy excavated in the United States -- a six foot tall wooden owl. Other than me, the only people at Fort Caroline this morning were sailors from Mayport Naval Base, which adjoins the memorial, using the trails as running paths. The memorial was pretty cool.

From Fort Caroline, I headed into Jacksonville to check out some museums. My first stop was the Cummer Museum of Art, another place I have never been before. The Cummer is a small museum, but a real treasure.

Cummer Museum of Art
Built on the site of the home of its benefactors, Arthur and Ninah Cummer, the museum has an impressive collection and an even more impressive setting on the St. Johns River. Behind the museum itself are the gardens of the original Cummer mansion, which were retained when the museum was built. I loved this place.

I was inspired by the Cummer, so headed for the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Jacksonville. This effort proved a waste. The MOCA was closed for renovations.

Since I was downtown only three blocks from Jacksonville Landing, Jacksonville's festival marketplace on the St. Johns River, I headed there for lunch. Jacksonville Landing was depressing. There were few people there and many of the shops were closed. I rember past visits when the Landing was hopping -- not today.

Jacksonville Landing
I did get a great meal of gator tail and basil mahi-mahi at Benny's Seafood and Steaks. And I had an amusing conversation about things to see and do in Jacksonville with the lady at the tourist information center (though it was depressing that her advice of something to do in the afternoon was "go see a movie.") Those were the best parts of Jacksonville Landing.

Since I did not want to see a movie, I crossed the river to the South Bank to check out the Museum of Science and History. The MOSH is clarly geared toward children, but the exhibit on jacksonville's history was incredibly well done. I spent most of the afternoon just checking that out.

After MOSH I headed back to Atlantic Beach and the hotel for a much needed nap.

I walked into Beaches Town Center for dinner. The desk clerk recommended Slider's as the best place for seafood, so that is where I went. On the way there I stumbled on an independent bookstore, so I stopped in and bought a book. I then made my way to Slider's where I had a delicious dinner of grouper. I love being in Florida and getting fresh seafood. 

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Fort Caroline
Fort Caroline
Timucuan Owl
Timucuan Owl
Cummer Museum of Art
Cummer Museum of Art
Jacksonville Landing
Jacksonville Landing
Italian Garden at the Cummer Museu…
Italian Garden at the Cummer Muse…
Museum of Science and History
Museum of Science and History