Summer Activities in Jacksonville, FL
There’s nothing like a bird’s eye view. See Amelia Island from above two different ways with Air Amelia. Opt for a relaxing hot air balloon ride over the island’s verdant marshlands and beaches, dipping and rising along the contours of the landscape. Or take charge with powered hang gliding, also known as trike flying. Expert pilots do the heavy work while you man the control bar, seeing Amelia Island from heights of 1,000 feet or more. Among sights you’ll see: historic American Beach, Cumberland Island, Fort Clinch State Park, Egan’s Creek, picturesque Downtown Fernandina Beach and the locally famous Pippi Longstocking House.
Jacksonville’s waterways are a popular spot for summertime fun. And Crazy Fish offers multiple ways to enjoy a season on the water. The company offers kayak rentals, guided kayak tours, chartered fishing boat excursions, airboat rides and their exclusive Dolphin Limousine tours. Half-hour and hour-long airboat tours take you into the Intracoastal Waterway’s marshes, creeks and streams where you just may catch a glimpse of dolphins, manatees, bald eagles, herons, pelicans, otters, raccoons and alligators. The Dolphin Limousine is a pontoon boat outfitted with under-tubing painted in a silvery color. Studies have shown that dolphins rather like the color and the long, tubular shape leads them to believe they’re looking at another school of their own, scientists say. Ergo, dolphins are unafraid of the boat and are more apt to swim alongside it. Enjoy the company, then take in lunch or dinner at the Crazy Fish restaurant.
If you’re a volleyball fanatic, the First Coast Volleyball Association is as good as it gets. No membership fees, no applications, no meetings – just show up and play at courts and poles located on Jacksonville Beach just south of the Pier; at Jacksonville Beach’s South Beach Park; at Neptune Beach’s Jarboe Park and on St. Augustine next to the pavilion. The FCVA originally started as a handful of buddies who gathered occasionally for pickup games. As more people showed up, they began holding small, friendly tournaments for bragging rights. Things have since progressed to a non-profit organization that runs a series of outdoor tournaments throughout the spring and summer, raising money for local charities and for the upkeep of public courts and poles so they’ll always be ready for a pickup game.
The town of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island has a unique history as the birthplace of the modern, motorized shrimping industry. And the locals have a soft spot for the shrimpers who still make their living tossing nets and pulling ‘em in. So each summer, they throw a days-long party in the industry’s honor. The Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival features a parade of decorated shrimp boats, live music on multiple stages, dozens of arts and antiques vendors, all the shrimp-centric food you can stand and – the local favorite – the annual Pirate Invasion. Don your best pirate garb a la Anne Bonny (did you know that they’re the reason for the term “fishnet stockings?”) and have yerself a blimey good time.
Yoga is a highly meditative activity. And what better place to meditate than the quiet respite and shady enclaves of a nature trail? The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens offers a self-directed yoga-under-the-trees experience. If you haven't yet, download a QR scanner on your mobile phone. Use it to scan the QR codes posted at various stations around the park's Lake Loop Trail and access suggested yoga poses for each of those stations. Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller, now a Jacksonville local, demonstrates each pose, chosen according to the terrain and views of particular spots. Fitness- and nature-oriented woods walks happen on the forth Saturday of each month - a great way to spend time with friends or make new ones.