Baby's Day Out in Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville’s Hands On Children’s Museum gives little ones a pint-sized look at the Mommy and Daddy’s world. Interactive exhibits encourage discovery and help develop cognitive, physical and social skills via role playing and interaction. Toddler Town features a tiny play house, a ball cage and an assortment of brightly colored toys. As your child grows, other exhibits like Little Vets, Kids Mini Bank and the Winn Dixie Lil Grocery allows him to try his hand at a variety of life and career roles. A fireman, a TV reporter, an entertainer, an astronaut – There’s just no telling what a day at Hands on Children’s Museum will inspire in your child’s future.
Billing itself as an "edutainment company," O2B Kids offers a slew of programs designed to help even the littlest ones develop social skills, strengthen their bodies and uncover their talents. Brighter Babies classes help introduce infants and toddler to new social settings. While the moms and dads chat each other up and show of their latest baby pics, their Mini-Mes warm up, stretch then get down to some serious play time, both structured and free. Preschool programs for kids from infancy to five years old let them let loose, running and jumping in age-appropriate gym spaces, slinging some finger paint in the Art Studio or singing to the top of their lungs in the Musical Theatre.
Nothing encourages a child’s imagination like a great story or a good book. The Children’s Library inside the Jacksonville Public Library’s downtown branch is a favorite place to start early instilling a love of literature in your infant or toddler, with hundreds of age-appropriate books and videos, and oversized, animal-shaped couches. But all of the JPL system’s 15 branches offer infant and toddler-friendly programs like Mother Goose Story Time, Toddler Time, Music & Movement and Family Art Time. A must-do is Toddler Time at the downtown branch’s Children’s Theater and Art Room – a lively music, movement and crafts experience for little ones aged 18 to 36 months.
Housed in a century-old home built by a prominent family of lumber barons, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is the go-to spot for art history, from ancient pottery to contemporary paintings. But don’t think that its high society beginnings make it a no-fun zone. Starting just 18 months old, kiddies at the Cummer can have an artsy good time. The Gallery Under Five features smaller-scale replicas of famous pieces of art displayed at their eye level. The Art Connections Section boasts multiple interactive exhibits, including Picture Perfect, a giant screen where any child old enough to grasp objects can "paint" a picture by swishing a large, electronic paintbrush through the air, print a copy and take it home. Masterpieces made daily - No smock necessary.
It’s known as the Oldest City, but it offers a few great perks for its youngest residents and visitors, too. Tops among them is Davenport Park, locally known as Carousel Park. That’s because it’s most prominent feature is a gorgeous antique merry-go-round that costs just a dollar to ride (though it’s free for kids with disabilities). Talk about your cheap play dates. Moms often pick up lunch nearby, serving up pizza or sandwiches at one of the park’s picnic tables. Playground equipment is designed for kids of all ages and abilities. It’s completely handicap-accessible, right down to the sign that features the alphabet in Braille. Massive Spanish moss-adorned trees offer plenty of shade, making Davenport Park a comfortable spot even on the hottest days. And the park is accessible by just two open gates, making it a safe haven for tots and kids to play.