Cinco de Mayo Around the First Coast: A Food Guide

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862-however in the U.S. it has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and cuisine. The First Coast has more than its fair share of delicious Mexican restaurants and we decided to highlight some of our favorite places to grab Mexican fare in honor of the holiday on Sunday.

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TacoLu- Jax Beach

Taco Lu in Jacksonville Beach is a popular locals place and a must try for visitors. This restaurant mixes a chill surfer vibe with an authentic Mexican flare. You can dine inside or outside on their cozy patios. Outside, enjoy the beautiful murals painted on the walls while sipping on a glass of one of their many tequilas. Inside you’ll find intimate tables with brick fire places nearby for colder evenings, beautiful sugar skulls throughout the restaurant, and a variety of Spanish themed décor. Tacolu is also versatile for those stopping in for happy hour with a lively bar area that includes a spin the wheel drink selection, a couple of sports TV’s, and a wall of tequila. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. They feature a variety of different taco selections, all reasonably priced. The staff here is extremely accommodating and friendly. Another great bonus to dining here is their complimentary valet parking. This comes in handy on a crowded weekend or holiday night!

Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar-Atlantic Beach

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photo credit: Flying Iguana Facebook

Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar  is located in the heart of Neptune Beach and offers delicious food, craft cocktails and a lively atmosphere. We would highly recommend the queso fondito and their speciality tacos like their Farm to Taco, Flying Fish Taco or their Dirty South Taco. You HAVE to try their Mexican street corn appetizer- it’s delicious. They also have an extensive list of specialty margaritas and other craft cocktails.

Burrito Gallery- Jax Beach and Downtown

Burrito Gallery is a local favorite that serves delicious and affordable Mexican food in a colorful atmosphere. They serve craft Margaritas and other cocktails along with burritos and tacos with unique fresh flavors like the fried chicken tender BLT taco. We would recommend trying the cajun shrimp or mahi burritos. They also offer a great happy hour and late night happy hour. The Burrito Gallery is having a celebration for Cinco de Mayo at all of their locations.

Cantina Laredo- St. John’s Town Center/Southside

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Cantina Laredo is located in the heart of the St. John’s Town Center and serves gourmet Mexican cuisine with a modern twist and an upscale dining experience to match. They are a national chain but their Jacksonville location is a wonderful place to go for Mexican cuisine if you are looking for a nice night out. We recommend that you try their steak fajitas or fish tacos as well as their sopa de tortilla. They are also having a Cinco de Mayo party on the patio with prizes starting at 3:00 PM on Saturday.

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint- Riverside

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photo credit: Facebook

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint  is located in the heart of the 5 points in the Riverside area. They serve a variety of cocktails and beer from local breweries along with a diverse menu of Tex-Mex fare. We recommend you sample one of their gourmet burgers with yucca fries or one of their grilled burritos. Lola’s often has events such as Taco Tuesdays and they are having an all day Cinco de Mayo celebration with discounted food and drinks along with a raffle drawing.

La Nopalera- San Marco

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photo credit: yelp

La Nopalera is a local Jacksonville family owned chain that serves traditional Mexican food and classic dishes. Their San Marco location is the one to check out- it is a neighborhood favorite due to it’s whimsical, vibrant atmosphere. We recommend you try their fajitas along with their house margarita.

Mi Casa Café- St. Augustine

Mi Casa Cafe is a fantastic restaurant in the heart of historic downtown St. Augustine that has live music and a beer and wine garden. A local favorite with a small but excellent menu this restaurant is all about the great location and lively atmosphere. We would recommend you try their hot Cuban sandwich or black beans and rice.

Mr. Taco Food Truck- Various Locations

Mr. Taco is located in a quiet neighborhood plaza located just off Bowden road. This authentic Mexican restaurant features your classic dishes from tacos and burritos to tortas and tostadas with flare. The atmosphere is cozy with friendly staff making for an enjoyable dining atmosphere. Not located near the southside area? Don’t fret! Mr. Taco has a fleet of taco trucks posted around the city, making it convenient to get your taco fix on the go! For a list of their food truck locations, check out the page on their website here.

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Featured Places:

Flying Iguana
flyingiguana.com
207 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL 32266
(904) 853-5680

Cantina Laredo
http://www.cantinalaredo.com
10282 Bistro St, Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 997-6110

Mi Casa Cafe
micasacafe.com
69 Saint George St, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 824-9317

TacoLu
tacolu.com
1712 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 249-8226

La Nopalera San Marco
lanopjax.com
1434 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207
904-288-0175

Burrito Gallery
burritogallery.com
Downtown:
21 E Adams St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 598-2922
Jax Beach:
300 Beach Blvd Ste 1, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-6521

Mr. Taco Food Truck
mrtacojax.com/food-trucks
6426 Bowden Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32246
Various food truck locations check website
(904) 438-5202

Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint
lolasburritojoint.com
1522 King St
Jacksonville, Florida 32204
(904) 738-7181

TOTC’s Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide

Here at Top of the Coast we love to #shoplocal and we wanted to compile a gift guide of some of our favorite local stores to find gifts for anyone on your list. We’ve narrowed our guide down to a handful of categories and crafted our guide to reflect some of our favorite stores and businesses in the area! Happy holidays and happy shopping!

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Congaree and Penn

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#iamamodernfarmer

I know, you didn’t think they still existed, especially in Jacksonville. Well, they do at Congaree and Penn on Old Kings Rd. Do the following statements ring true in your heart?

  • You are moved by the Slow Food -food that is produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality locally sourced ingredients – movement.
  • You enjoy an evening out, away from the city lights, and out in nature. One that features other like minded people with great food and great conversation.
  • You are a person who appreciates the time, skill and creativity that goes into products that you use?
  • You appreciate #shoplocal and would prefer to spend your resources supporting local businesses verses large box stores.
  • You enjoy history and have a deep respect for those who take the time, energy and passion for the preservation of culture and tradition.

If any or all of these statements found you shaking your head YES – then take every opportunity to go and visit the farm, or their website. I promise you will not be disappointed. The owners live on the farm and are great to interact with and learn from.

Congaree and Penn is a farm located 20 minutes outside of Downtown Jacksonville and offers wonderful events and goodies for foodies. They have events year round and they also offer a unique assortment of gifts on their website that feature gourmet fresh flavors that any foodie will appreciate such as creole tomato jelly, pecan oil, a variety of rices from their farm and other unique and flavorful items.

Manifest Distillery

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credit: Manifest website

Manifest is downtown Jacksonville’s only full-scale distillery that opened up in the fall of 2016. They make craft spirits and offer a selection of vodkas, gins and whiskeys. They also have distillery tours where you  can go learn about what goes into making their craft spirits. The food and wine lover may enjoy making a cocktail with a bottle of their Florida Citrus Vodka, which is crafted with Florida grown oranges, grapefruit and lemon. You can check out more on their website here.

A Chef’s Studio

A Chef’s Studio is a local cooking studio for those looking to learn, share, discover and develop their cooking skills. If your gifting for a foodie who has got a passion for cuisine, give them this fun-filled and thoughtful gift where they’ll be able to sharpen their skills or learn a new technique. Choose from their popular guest chef taught, Home Chef Series, a group class, or their relaxed wine club! Check out the calendar here for upcoming classes!

Intuition Ale Works

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Photo Credit: Intuition Ale Works

Intuition Ale Works is a local brewery, located in the entertainment area of downtown, established by native Jacksonville resident Ben Davis.Intuition works to create quality, flavorful beers for you to enjoy at their tap room and across Northeast Florida. Pick up a pack for your food and wine lover or take them downtown for a drink where they’ll be able to enjoy a cold one while overlooking the St. Johns River. Intuition also has tours available for free when you visit their downtown location. Tours include a walk through the brewery, the brew process explained, and any questions you might have!

Green Room Brewing

Green Room Brewing is the first microbrewery located in Jacksonville Beach. They cater to the casual drinker and beer aficionado that call Northeast Florida home.This brewery does not serve food, but with it’s convenient location it is near all the staple restaurants of Jax Beach. Feel free to bring your own food while you kick back and relax at The Green Room.

Bold Bean Coffee Roasters

For the foodie that enjoys a good cup of Joe, a gift from Bold Bean Coffee Roasters is for them! Treat them to a latte decorated with unique latte art and a pastry at three of their convenient locations. Bold Bean hosts stores in Jacksonville Beach, Riverside and San Marco neighborhoods. What makes these coffee shops so unique is that they feature a variety of different type of coffee drinks all served by baristas that are courteous and welcoming. If your foodie loves coffee, this is the perfect gift!

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Snacks and a Show at the Sunray Cinema

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The art lover will enjoy heading to the five points area in Riverside to check out a film and have a snack. You two can catch indie classics and mainstream movies at Sunray and enjoy popcorn with the fixins bar or something more substantial like a Caesar salad, pizza, beer and wine or even a vegan (or regular) milkshake. Their website has their showtimes.

MOCA

The art lover will enjoy a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville in downtown Jacksonville where they can attend one of their events, artist q & A’s or exhibitions. Afterwards you guys can head to their restaurant NOLA MOCA for a truly unique and delicious meal. The restaurant offers an eclectic menu and has a full bar that serves hand crafted cocktails. They are open late on Thursdays and Wednesday nights during Art Walk if you two want to make a night of it and have dinner there. You can check out the latest schedule of events and exhibitions on their website here.

Theater tickets from the FSCJ Artist Series

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According to their website, “The FSCJ Artist Series is Northeast Florida’s major presenter of national and international touring attractions and is the presenting arm of the Florida State College at Jacksonville. The FSCJ Artist Series presents Broadway musicals and plays, as well as concerts, at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts downtown and at the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts on Beach Blvd.” Their next season has some great shows lined up including Hamilton. Get tickets here.

Classes at the Art League of Jacksonville

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The Art League of Jacksonville offers affordable art classes for children and adults. Get them tickets to an art class at their website here.

The Write Touch

The Write Touch is an adorable store in San Macro that has an assortment of stationary, gifts and accessories that they’re sure to love. You can pick up a gift at their San Marco store or online here.

Chamblin’s Bookmine

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Chamblin’s Bookmine is a local favorite and is located in Jacksonville’s downtown area-right across from Hemming Park. It offers a wide selection of books from all sorts of niche genres. You can spend hours browsing their large collection of books. The art lover will love anything from Chamblin’s or go together, treat them to coffee and let them choose their gift!

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St. Augustine Amphitheatre

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The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is a great place to catch live national acts and local music events. There are also several bars and restaurants that feature live music every night in downtown St. Augustine. You can also sometimes catch a few street musicians performing depending on the night.

Florida Theatre

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Is a great place to catch a show with your music lover. You can see all the upcoming shows on their website and plan your event.

Other Great Live Music Venues

You can take your music lover to see a show at other excellent venues for live music like the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall , Jack Rabbits , Murray Hill Theatre and 1904 Music Hall just make sure to check online for upcoming shows and events.

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Rethreaded  

Rethreaded was started by Jacksonville native Kristin Keen. According to the company’s website, “Rethreaded renews hope, reignites dreams and releases potential for survivors of human trafficking locally and globally through business.” Rethreaded has products that are made in Jacksonville and benefit their cause which make great gifts. Items like their Threads for Hope bracelets and Grace Scarves available here.

Liv-N-Grace bracelets

Liv-N-Grace bracelets are the perfect gift for those who like to give back. They are gorgeous and come in a variety of colors and styles. The bracelets can be purchasedhere. Proceeds from the bracelets benefit The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation which goes to two charities. According to their website, they are MARC centers, which serves over 300 at-risk youth in two Jacksonville communities. McKenzie’s Academic Resource Center’s offer academic tutoring, mentoring and developmental programs for students of all ages. And “McKenzie’s Home” The Foundation built three homes at the Okoa Refuge Orphanage in Uganda, Africa and in partnership with Okoa Refuge, provides medical care, food, shelter, education and love to over 75 girls, boys and infants.

A Gift from BEAM thrift

BEAM is a great place to find fantastic pieces at a great price. It also offers an eclectic mix of vintage clothes, accessories and art-all at a discounted price. The best part about BEAM is that all of the proceeds go to a great cause: the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry.

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Ellie Bing
Ellie Bing is a great local boutique that has beautiful one of a kind vintage and modern jewelry and accessories.  There are two locations one in Avondale and one in Jax Beach and there is a new store opening in Ponte Vedra Beach. You can also shop online.

Rosie True

Rosie True is a local clothing boutique with a variety of designs. The boutique features smaller brands with local flare. Browse their collection online or in store of flowing dresses, tunic tops and vivid prints. Conveniently located with a store in San Marco and Jacksonville Beach, it is the perfect place to find a cute dress or fun piece of jewelry to make for a fantastic gift.

Pineapple Post

The Pineapple Post is another great local shop that has almost every gift imaginable for the stylish person in your life. They are probably best known for their stationary and invitations. What makes them unique is that they have an awesome selection of “print it yourself” items. Most shoppers would describe the style as preppy meets beachy. From home décor to accessories to stationary, you can’t go wrong here.

Pearl Home 


Located in the heart of Jacksonville Beach Pearl Home offers hip, modern high-end designs. It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift for your stylish loved one to display at home. It has several great interior design gifts like chic bedding and small artisan furniture pieces.

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The Bark Boutique

Is a pet store in the 5 Points area in Riverside which offers treats, toys and more your pet!  They have baked treats and cakes for dogs, training classes and more! Check them out at their store or online here.

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The Green Alligator

The Green Alligator is a wonderful gem located in the heart of Jacksonville’s Avondale neighborhood where you can find unique and educational children’s toys and specialty gift items for all the kids on your list. 

The Cummer Museum Children’s Museum

The Cummer Museum located in the heart of Riverside’s five points also houses a unique interactive and educational children’s area. A section is set up especially for tots with all sorts of art-related installations, interactive games and educational displays. The museum brings history alive with various special children’s exhibits of art and art history.Two of note are Art Connections, which brings art to life with things such as video installations and life-sized cutouts of impressionist paintings and Creativity Timeline, a vibrant three-dimensional mural depicting the entirety of art history, which spans an entire wall. In addition, the Cummer offers seasonal art classes as well as educational tours for children. A gift of a visit to the Cummer museum will be both fun and educational for the kids-and their shop has unique gifts as well!

Lucy’s Sweet Shop Cookie Decorating Party

Lucy’s Sweet Shop offers handcrafted cookies, cupcakes and cakes in a variety of flavors. The shop offers cookie, cake and cupcake decorating parties and fun for kids of all ages. Their party packages  have a 6 person minimum and 14 person limit. 

Sweet Pete’s Candy

Sweet Pete’s is a unique gem that features a variety of different kinds of candy. They are available for sampling and purchase in a beautifully decorated and whimsical shop. Upon entering Sweet Pete’s you’ll find their assorted chocolates and truffle bar to the right. Head to the back of the home and you’ll find a flight of stairs that will lead you to the second floor which houses the ice cream parlor, candy shop and fully functioning candy factory where you can oversee the creations from the glass observatory. You can purchase gift baskets or create your own in the store or online. 

Newberry Cornfield Maze

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This past weekend, I was able to attend a spooky themed corn maze in Newberry, Florida. Newberry is a short 20-minute drive outside of Gainesville. This is the perfect event to get in the spooky season if you live in the north-central area of Florida. The Newberry Farm has everything your fall heart desires, including a corn maze, haunted house, mechanical bull and bonfire at night. This activity is perfect for families during the day and great for the older crowds who are looking for a good spook at night!

Neberry Corn Maze

Our group chose to head out on a cool Friday evening. Newberry is farther from the more populated Gainesville, so we were able to see lots of stars sparkling down at us once we arrived at the farm.

It is important to note that tickets were a reasonable $10 per person and it was cash only. We started by warming up by the cozy fire that greets you upon entering the farm. Once everyone had purchased their ticket, we decided to try out the haunted house first. We did have to wait in a line to enter, but it moved quickly, especially since there were a few scary characters walking around the line giving guests a fright while they waited. The entrance to the haunted house was made of a broken-down bus with an eerie masked figure perched on top.

I was relieved to learn that our group would be able to go through the house together. I will admit that I was a total scaredy-cat and held onto my friends for dear life while I walked through the haunt. I found it to be just the perfect balance of silly and scary with a plethora of dressed characters popping out at you among the differently themed rooms.

After the haunted house, we decided to try out the haunted corn maze, complete with its very own Michael Myers character from the Halloween movie series guarding the entrance. When you enter the maze you are immediately met with the sound of chainsaws revving.

Part of the excitement of this maze was that just when you think you’ve turned down a safe corner, an actor with a chainsaw will jump out and make you run screaming for your life further into the maze.

https://www.haunts.com/newberrycornfieldmaze

Without giving any hints away I will say that we did make it out despite the almost complete darkness and chainsaws at every cornet. I very much enjoyed this type of corn maze, it was my first time experiencing one that was haunted.

Overall, this is a great activity for families and friends. I highly recommend it if you live near this area. If you have smaller children, I would suggest going during the day when the scares aren’t quite so frightening. If you are looking for a pumpkin patch to check off of your list of fun fall activities, unfortunately this maze does not supply one, but there is a pumpkin patch located just down the road at Hodge Farms. Get out there and enjoy these fun fall activities!

Haunted Savannah

 

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The time is upon us! October is here and that means it’s time for the ghosts and ghouls to come out haunting. Where are we exploring this week? Where else but one of the most haunted cities in America — Savannah, GA. We compiled a list of some of the spookiest places for you to venture.

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5 of our favorite haunted places in Savannah

The Marshall House 

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If you are looking for a place to stay, and don’t mind sharing a room with spirited guests, then look no further than the Marshall House at 123 E Broughton St. The Marshall house originally built in 1851 is now a nice hotel, but back in its early days, it was anything but. In its history, the Marshall house was used as a civil war hospital, where some of the most brutal amputations on wounded soldiers were done without anesthetic. Today the screams of these former patients can be heard all throughout the building. There have also been reported sightings of the bones of these amputated limbs found under the floorboards of the building. Guests have reported voices and screams, apparitions appearing in the hallways, as well as flickering lights and faucets turning themselves off and on.  Check out their website to book your stay on your haunted Savannah trip.

Moon River Brewing Co.

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Once featured on Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, Moon River Brewing Co. has an exceptionally violent history. Originally built in 1821, the building was Savannah’s first hotel and post office. Once an upscale establishment, it became notorious for violent crime from many locals defending their southern honor from those from the north passing through. When Gen. Sherman passed through in 1864, the hotel closed, and remained unused until the 1990’s when Moon River Brewing took over. If you’re up for a drink with some of the ghostly residents, be prepared for the possibility of bottles being thrown, or maybe even being touched, slapped, or pushed by the spirits—and I’m not just talking about the drinks!

Bonaventure

Bonaventure Cemetery 

Bonaventure cemetery spans 100 acres which makes this Savannah’s largest cemetery-and it’s also rumored to be the most haunted. A dedicated group of local volunteers host their Visitors Center every weekend and give free, guided tours each month.  The cemetery also has a smartphone app with a map and written content included for visitors. Bonaventure Cemetery also hosts Bonaventure Cemetery After Hours this month where the cemetery will be open for a late-night tour. Bonaventure Cemetery After Hours takes place on  Oct 27th.

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The Olde Pink House 

The Olde Pink House was originally the home of Revolutionary war hero James Habersham, Jr. It is now a five-star restaurant and rumored to be haunted by Habersham and other spirits. Many patrons and staff have reported sightings of ghostly figures and sounds inside the restaurant and downstairs at the bar. If you decide to visit The Olde Pink House you can dine on some delicious five star Southern cuisine and perhaps encounter some of the city’s most notorious ghosts.

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Madison Square 

Madison Square is known to be one of Savannah’s most haunted outdoor areas. The bodies of British soldiers have been found underneath the elegant homes that line the square. If you venture through the square at night don’t be surprised if the flicker of the streetlight or the howl of the wind through the streets is really the angry spirit of one of these men-looking to take revenge on a tourist who disrupts his resting place.

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Here’s a list of some great things going on in the city this month to check out on your haunted Savannah trip:

Ghost Trolley Tour with Pirates House Tour & Dinner – All October

Hauntings Walking Tour – All October

Ghosts and Gravestones of Savannah – All October

Masquerade in the Mansion – October 26th

Savannah Haunted Pubs & Taverns Walking Tour – October 5-28th

SOCA Wine and Music Festival – October 13, 2018 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM EDT

 

 

 

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom

41843950_1910050785714874_3767737301384298496_nThe most magical place on earth, and definitely not the spookiest, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom is a fantastic way to get all dressed up, trick-or-treat, and enjoy the rides of Disney! This is a perfect time to take the family to the Magic Kingdom if you’re on a tight budget, dislike the Florida heat, or not a fan of long lines. This was the second year I took my family to Mickey’s Halloween Party and I can safely say that even with the shorter hours, it’s a far better experience!

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I am a Disney girl. I was born a Disney girl, I will die a Disney girl, and only my fleas will mourn me! I tend to get carried away with Disney quotes from time to time as well. So when I say that the little kid in me comes out to play the moment I step through the gates, I can assure you, that is not an exaggeration! A visit to Disney is a golden opportunity to enjoy myself and embarrass my children! From parking on the Villain’s side only, to the gates decorated with Mickey shaped pumpkins, to adults and kids alike dressed in costumes, you get the best of both worlds of Disney and Halloween.

mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party-boo-andyFrom 7pm to midnight, you are immersed into a villainous world where you can skip through the streets (believe me, I did) in your Halloween costume from Space Mountain to the Haunted Mansion and on to Thunder Mountain. Along the way, the kids can trick-or-treat with either their own bags or the ones provided by Mickey! The lines were fairly short, which is a huge bonus for someone like me who is far too anxious to wait to ride the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train!

Photo Credit: Disney website

The most we waited in any line was between 25-30 minutes. An even bigger bonus is you are standing there at night! If you have ever gone to Disney during the daytime, you know how brutal that hot Florida sun can be, and somehow that 25-minute wait stretches on to infinity and beyond.

I will say that not all the rides are open during the night time events. I was gravely disappointed that I could not drag my kids to the Carousel of Progress, but all of the big and more popular rides were in full effect. We had enough time to get on every ride, and even time to spare to ride a few twice! All the characters are out for pictures and autographs, especially the villains. It’s a great chance for you to snap a few pictures of your mini Cinderella with Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizzella! Jafar roamed near Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride, and the Queen of Hearts was near the Mad Tea Party spinning tea cups.CaptureWhat night at Disney would be complete without their spectacular fireworks display? They did not disappoint as they lit up the night sky over the park. On stage located in front of Cinderella’s castle was a “scare-abration” with haunting melodies from all of your favorite Disney villains.

41532042_1901973019855984_5322289607386071040_nIMG_7897.jpgThe prices for tickets are anything but scary for this event, too. Through the rest of September, there are select nights open to Mickey’s Halloween Party with prices starting at $75 (plus tax, of course), but that price will increase as you get closer to October. My advice would be to go sooner rather than later. Overall, we had a hauntingly fantastic time at Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party.

If a trip to Orlando is just not in the cards this time of year, there are plenty of other local, little monster-friendly events going on (via visitjacksonville.com)

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Rebounderz Flips, Tricks and Treats Halloween Party – October 13 – Join Rebounderz for the Flips, Tricks and Treats Halloween Party! Unlimited jump, laser tag, laser maze, ninja warrior course, rock climbing wall, leap of faith, a haunted house, trick-or-treating, photo ops, a costume contest and more!

Jacksonville Zoo Spooktacular – October 13-31 – Enjoy the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens during their most magical celebration with Halloween adventure for kids of all ages. You don’t want to miss one of Jacksonville’s most exciting Halloween events.

Skate Station Funworks Freaky Friday – October 13 – Friday the 13th, Freaky Friday! Scary face contest, best scream contest and trivia. Skate with the lights off and purchase some glow sticks!

The Catty Shack Ranch Halloween Haunted Forest – October 13-28 – Stroll through as the forest comes alive with creeps and crawls. They’ll have crafts and games for the kids and even a costume contest with prizes. They’ve got a touch lab for the little ghosts and the Trail of Fears for the big ghosts..

Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres – September 29th-October 27th- Come to Conner’s pumpkin patch and farm which also has train rides, a corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, farm animals and more. There is also a snacks and refreshment stand, restrooms, picnic area available for day trips.

Adventure Landing Hallo-WEE Party – October 28 – A not-so-scary celebration for the kids! Only $3 per child; there will be crafts, games, bounce houses, face painting, goodie bags, costume contest and much more!

Mall-O-Ween at the Avenues – October 28 – Join the Avenues Mall for some scare-free trick-or-treating. All the retailers will be handing out goodie bags and there will be fun games, crafts, activities, costume parade and much more.

Murray Hill-O-Ween – October 29 – A Halloween themed block party and parade on the streets of Murray Hill. There will be food trucks, vendors, costumed characters, floats and even prizes.

Trick-or-Treat on the Street Downtown – October 31 – Come celebrate with Downtown Jax from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wear your best costumes and get your fill of candy, coupons and other goodies from participating businesses.

Top of the Coast Wedding Series: Part 1

Are you planning on tying the knot on the First Coast? We are happy to share with you a carefully researched and lovingly crafted list of excellent local venues and vendors for your big day! Whether you are looking for inspiration or to hire some of the best local wedding vendors, you are not going to want to miss the first installment of
Top of the Coast’s Wedding Series!

Venues

The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island

First up on our list of top wedding venues on the First Coast is the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. The Ritz-Carlton provides an atmosphere of elegance, sophistication and beauty, perfect for a luxury Southern wedding. You can choose from a selection of three venues for your ceremony, the beach, the oceanfront lawn, or the courtyard. Reception choices include, the plaza ballroom, the Ritz-Carlton ballroom, or oceanfront lawn. These venues can accommodate anywhere from 100-800 guests. The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island also has catering and conference professionals available for you to use for assistance in planning your dream wedding. Check out their site here for more details.

The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is an elegant beach side venue that has the potential to host the wedding of your dreams. With the beach as your backdrop and the early 20th century styled venues as your reception, your wedding will be one of elegance and sophistication. Choose from the spacious Grand Ballroom or slightly smaller Junior Ballroom to host your reception. Whether you are having your ceremony beach side or nestled among the immaculate grounds, you’ll appreciate the top notch service that the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club staff offers. Check out their site here for more wedding details.

The Treasury on the Plaza

Looking for a wedding with a more historical feel? The Treasury on the Plaza offers an elegant and luxurious wedding venue. This venue offers a gorgeous ceremony and reception space with high ceilings, elaborate architecture and the historic Vault Bar. The Grand Ballroom holds anywhere from 50-250 guests, giving it the versatility to a be a big celebration or more intimate affair. Some of the added perks of this venue are the option to add fun effects like a fog machine, choreographed lights, or live video streaming. Make sure to check out their events page here for all of the details and pricing. Special discounts can be applied to those who book a year or further in advance!

Plantation Oaks Farms

Experience the farm wedding of your dreams at the quaint Plantation Oaks Farms in Callahan, Florida. This venue can accommodate small or large gatherings. Couples may choose from three ceremony spaces as well as a 5,000 sq. foot event barn for their reception. Enjoy towering oaks and luscious Spanish moss as the back drop of your picturesque ranch wedding. Take advantage of the elegant and customized bride and groom suites to get ready for your big day. You will not want to miss the wonderful opportunity to make lifelong memories at this gorgeous Florida plantation. For more details on the venues and services visit their site here.

Gowns

Love: A Bridal Boutique is a Jacksonville Beach boutique that specializes in wedding gowns from unique high end designers. It is a local store that caters to brides on the First Coast. You can go to their website here to book an appointment and check out some of the designers they feature. They also host  events at their store like their annual  sample sale which is taking place July 20th and 21st and a Robert Bullock Bride Trunk Show from July 27th to August 11th.

Catering

Hire a Food Truck

 

Go the untraditional route and hire a food truck to cater your wedding. Hire a food truck to do the catering- it is a new trend at weddings and a less expensive way to serve delicious food to your guests. A food truck usually costs less than a traditional caterer because the set up is easier. In fact, the quality of the food may even be better due to the fact that everything is cooked to order on site. Food trucks come in a variety of styles and types of cuisines and you can tailor the menu to your taste and wedding theme.

Food truck finder USA has a service where you can find food trucks in the Jacksonville area that are available for weddings here. The website Roaming Hunger also schedules food trucks for events in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas and it has a section devoted to weddings. Go here to check out the various food trucks and to schedule one for your wedding or events surrounding your big day.

Invitations and Printed Items

Color Fusion Printing

 

Color Fusion Printing is a local printing service located in the Southside area in Jacksonville. They offer additional services such as creative and graphic design help as well. In addition to wedding invitations, they offer engagement announcements, save the dates, placemats and coasters, bridal shower invitations. You can see the various styles and order online here. There are also a wide variety of additional items available that you can purchase with custom printing and embroidery for your wedding festivities. You can see all the printing services they offer on their website here. 

Photography 

Sarah Hedden

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Sarah Hedden is a Jacksonville photographer and weddings are one of her specialties.  I have worked with her in the past and can say that she comes highly recommended. Sarah has a vast portfolio online and books up quickly so make sure to make her one of your first contacts when booking services for your big day. Check out her website here for more information and check out a portfolio of her work on her Instagram and Facebook or online here.

Bakeries

Cinotti’s Bakery

Jacksonville Beach locals favorite, Cinotti’s Bakery  is a bakery that never disappoints! Cinotti’s offers hand decorated cookies, cakes, cupcakes and donuts. The variety of flavors, colors and sizes of the goodies displayed in their bake cases when you walk into the shop is enough to send those with a sweet tooth into seventh heaven! Cinotti’s also creates gorgeous wedding cakes, tailored to fit your ideal wedding theme. In addition to your wedding cake, you can also choose to have their yummy cupcakes, cookies, or donuts catered for your guests on the big day!

Alley Cakes

Alley Cakes is another local favorite that also creates beautiful wedding cakes to celebrate your big day. They have three selections available to fit every bride and groom’s vision and budget. Each type of cake includes a phone consultation and voucher for their indulgent cake flavor samplings. By choosing Alley cakes, you’ll receive Alley’s personal touch and attention.

Sweet by Holly

Sweet by Holly is a cupcake store with locations in Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida. Owner Holly Wilder, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, creates gorgeous cupcakes and cakes with fun flavors and beautiful decorations perfect for celebrating any occasion. Their wedding cakes can be ordered in sizes 4” to 12” and come in square and round sizes. They can also be single stacked or tiered to your preference. Rest assured that all cakes are made from scratch, decorated with their famous buttercream frosting. You can also go with the more recent trend of having cupcakes as your dessert of choice for your big day. This can allow the flexibility for guests to try different flavors with Ms. Holly’s famous 2.5 bite cupcakes. You can’t go wrong in choosing Sweet by Holly where you’re sure to get a dessert that fits your vision, tastes great, and impresses your guests.


Florist

Rose of Sharon Wedding

Since 1986, Rose of Sharon Florist has been providing gorgeous floral arrangements for the residents of Northeast Florida. They pride themselves in their attention to detail and truly being able to listen and share in the creation of the wedding couple’s vision for their big day. When getting started with Rose Sharon Florist, they encourage clients to share pictures and Pinterest pages to serve as a guide for creating the arrangements on your big day. Plan to sit down for your complimentary consultation 6 – 12 months in advance to begin planning and prepping for the floral arrangements on your big day. On your wedding day, Rose Sharon Florist will flawlessly execute the delivery, set up and breakdown of your arrangements, giving you the freedom to focus on what is most important. For more details on their services please visit their site here.

Featured Places:

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
4750 Amelia Island Pkwy, Amelia Island, FL 32034
(904) 277-1100
Ponte Vedra Inn and Club
200 Ponte Vedra Blvd, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
(866) 748-8083
Treasury on the Plaza
24 Cathedral Pl Ste 111, St Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 217-0077
Plantation Oaks Farms
45460 Hodges Rd, Callahan, FL 32011
(904) 524-3004
Rose of Sharon European Florist
2319 University Blvd W. Jacksonville, FL 32217
(904) 737-8655
Cinotti’s Bakery
1523 Penman Rd
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-1728
Alleycakes Bakery
1517 Atlantic Blvd Neptune Beach, FL 32266
(904) 372-7081
Sweet by Holly
4624 Town Crossing Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 564-2711
Love: A Bridal Boutique
434 3rd St N
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
(904) 242-9800
Color Fusion Printing & Custom Apparel
3653 Regent Blvd. Suite 303
Jacksonville, Florida 32224
(904) 994-9040
Sarah Hedden Photography
sarah@sarahheddenphotography.com
(904) 504-1759

Roaming Hunger 
http://www.roaminghunger.com

Food Truck Finder USA 
http://www.foodtruckfinderusa.com

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

National Ice Cream Day is on Sunday and there is nothing we love more than indulging in a cold, creamy dessert on a hot summer night. In the spirit of the holiday we decided to spotlight some terrific places to grab ice cream around the First Coast.

 

Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar

Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar in downtown St. Augustine offers a variety of gourmet Belgian waffles with delicious toppings and creamy, rich milkshakes as well as espresso and waffle bites.

Their milkshakes are made with their homemade soft serve ice cream and are blended with a variety of homemade goodies and toppings and topped with fresh whipped cream. We recommend you try the Papa Steve, which is a blackberry cheesecake milkshake with blackberry sauce, or an Air Kentucky, which is a Butter Pecan milkshake with real maple syrup and candied pecans topped with a bourbon whipped cream. You can view their menu here and don’t forget to try a waffle with your shake!

Sweet Pete’s


Sweet Pete’s is a must-see on this list of ice cream shops in Northeast Florida. Located in a brightly colored historic home in the middle of downtown, Sweet Pete’s is a unique gem that features a plethora of different kinds of candy. They are available for sampling and purchase in a beautifully decorated and whimsical shop. Upon entering Sweet Pete’s you’ll find their assorted chocolates and truffle bar to the right. To the left is their fully functioning bar and restaurant the Candy Apple. Head to the back of the home and you’ll find a flight of stairs that will lead you to the second floor which houses the ice cream parlor, candy shop and fully functioning candy factory where you can oversee the creations from the glass observatory. We highly recommend Sweet Pete’s ice cream while you are browsing through this magnificent candy shop. Choose from your standard ice cream flavors and a few other unique flavors that are created by the Sweet Pete team. Enjoy your sundae on their outdoor patio, decorated with string lights and oversized colorful chairs. You will truly feel like a kid in a candy store upon visiting this magical place!  Stop by this Sunday, July 15th from 12pm – 3pm to enjoy a free sample of the famous Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors ZOO Sundae!

Five F(X) Ice Cream

Located in the Southside area Five f(x) Ice Cream is made fresh to order. They also have different types of milk you can choose from to make your ice cream and can accommodate anyone who might have a sensitivity to dairy but still wants to enjoy some ice cream. They have a unique selection of flavors which include exotic ones like Taro, Chai, Green Tea, Lavender and Nutella. Their ice cream comes with a choice of an assortment of different toppings as well as delicious homemade waffles.

Dreamette

Dreamette has three locations: One in the Riverside/Avondale area, one in the St. John’s Town Center and one at the beaches and it is known for it’s delicious soft serve ice cream. Dreamette is the place to go to get soft serve, dipped cones, shakes and sundaes. They have dipped cones in all sorts of flavors like chocolate, strawberry and blueberry as well as cones rolled in sprinkles. You can also get mixes or shakes in classic and featured flavors as well as sundaes with toppings like hot fudge, caramel and strawberries.

Chilled Flavors Old Fashioned Ice Cream

Chilled Flavors is a new old fashioned style ice cream parlor located just outside of Nacatee. They have ice cream, old fashioned style-soda fountain drinks like egg creams, Italian ices, waffle cones and other goodies. Their ice cream incorporates organic and locally sourced ingredients from Florida farms and comes in a variety of classic and unique flavors such as brown sugar cinnamon as well as dairy free and flavors just for adults like Maple with Bourbon Bacon Toffee. Check out their menu here to see more of their flavor options and make sure to keep them in mind for your next party because they are available for events like Birthdays and other celebrations.

Whit’s Frozen Custard

Although Whit’s is a national chain their local stores serve up some of the best frozen custard in town. Frozen custard is a creamy version of ice cream that is made with a slightly different recipe and process than regular ice cream. There are four Whit’s locations in the area, one in Jax Beach, Atlantic Beach, Mandarin and Avondale. Their frozen custard comes in a variety of flavors with a featured flavor of the week. According to their website this week it is Lemon Drop, which is lemon custard with crushed lemon cookies. Whit’s also has an endless list of toppings from cookies to candies to fruit and everything in between. One of the best things to order at Whit’s is the Whitser, which is frozen custard mixed with a variety of toppings. They also have shakes, sundaes, banana splits and floats. You can also take home a pint of their custard, ice cream sandwiches and custard cakes. Check out their menu here and plan on enjoying your custard at any of their four locations.

Florida Creamery 

The Florida Creamery is located in the historic Avondale area and serves ice cream and other frozen treats in a whimsical atmosphere.  Their ice cream comes in a choice selection of flavors and is served in sundaes, malts, milkshakes, floats and on homemade waffle cones. See all their flavors on their menu here. They also have something called a Florida Hurricane which is frozen custard mixed with your choice of toppings. They cater events and host parties at their shop so keep them in mind for your next party!

Nitrogen Creamery

Nitrogen Creamery is a unique ice cream experience that is perfect for National Ice Cream Day. Located in Jacksonville Beach, step into the uniquely designed shop to pick up your sweet treat. Nitrogen Creamery’s ice cream starts with a liquid base and the flavor of your choosing. From there the liquid nitrogen is added to mixture where it freezes the ice cream into an incredibly smooth textured ice cream. Nitrogen Creamery also has a food truck that can be spotted around town. This awesome business also caters for special events. Check their site out here. Upcoming events for Nitrogen Creamery include a featured vendor slot at the Beaches Freedom festival this weekend from Noon -10 PM, you don’t want to miss it!

The Hyppo

The Hyppo popsicle shop is a quaint popsicle shop with multiple location in Northeast Florida where you can enjoy a locally made, gourmet ice pop. With over 450 flavors, this cute little shop truly has something for everyone. Hyppo uses only the freshest ingredients. Their fruit ice pops fluctuate with the what is in season, giving the customer the guarantee of “fresh is best”. With locations not only in Florida, but throughout the Southeast, these one of a kind pops are easily accessible. You can also keep an eye out for their food truck at local events! For ice pop flavors and store locations visit their site here.

Kilwins

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Kilwins is a classic staple of the ice cream community here in Northeast Florida. With shops around the U.S. opening in the 1940’s, Kilwins has always been a familiar place where one can snack on high quality products ranging from gourmet chocolates, decadent ice creams and endless sweets. The in-store craftsmanship of their products make for a unique dining experience. You’ll be able to watch fudge and other treats made right before your eyes! This is a must visit if you’re celebrating a special event, stopping by on vacation, or just looking to satisfy a craving. You don’t want to miss this gem of nostalgic Americana. For locations check their site here.

Featured Places

Five F(X) Ice Cream
9802 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256 · ~2.3 mi
(904) 928-9559
http://www.5fxicecream.com

Sweet Pete’s
400 N Hogan St
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
(904) 376-7161
http://www.sweetpetescandy.com

Nitrogen Creamery
Truck check Facebook or contact through their website or at
nitrogencreameryjax@gmail.com
904-536-2988
http://www.nitrogencreameryjax.com

Florida Creamery
Avondale
(904) 503-0901
3566 St. Johns Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32205

Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar
15 Hypolita St, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 342-5627

Chilled Flavors Old Fashioned Ice Cream
10930 US Highway 1 North
Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081

Kilwins
Jacksonville
10281 Midtown Parkway #125
Jacksonville, FL 32246

St. Augustine
140 Saint George Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084

Dreamette
Riverside
3646 Post St.
Jacksonville, FL 32205-5933
904-388-2558
Town Center
4663 River City Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32246
(904) 994-7740
Beaches
309 Atlantic Blvd.
Neptune Beach, Florida 32266
(904) 746-7037

Whit’s
Jax Beach
1232 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
(904) 595-5891
Atlantic Beach
38 Ocean Blvd
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
904-853-5384
Avondale
3545 St. Johns avenue
jacksonville, FL 32205
904-551-5957
Mandarin
11362 San Jose Blvd, Suite 3
Jacksonville, FL 32223
904-634-7190

The Hyppo
St. Johns Town Center
4663 River City Dr
Jacksonville, FL 32246

San Marco
1432 Hendricks Ave
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 551-7188

Riverside
90 Riverside Ave STE 605
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 551-0361

Charlotte Street
48 Charlotte Street
Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 217-7853

Saint George Street
70 Saint George Street
Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 547-2980

The Hyppo Cafe
(Across from Cobblestone Plaza)
1765 Tree Blvd #5
Saint Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 342-7816