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to check out “Life,” the statue memorializing Floridians who died in World War I, and the bronze eagle statues guarding the park. – HL Best Place to Canoe or Kayak Guana River State Park Northeast Florida has so much to offer, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to get away from it all. If you’re in need of a vacation from reality, the waters at Guana River State Park in Ponte Vedra Beach are an ideal place to kayak. After a few hours on the water watching shorebirds, alligators and fi sh frolic and hunt, and you won’t remember what you came to forget. Just be sure to bring cash for parking and check the tides before you launch. – CG Best Skate Spot Kona Skate Park Between cellphones, video-game experiences so righteously realistic that you’d swear they draw blood and the almighty Internet, it can be a challenge to detach Best Beach Best View Best Place to Stay Cool Best Place to Bike Best Fishing Spot your gluteus from the couch maximus. But Kona Skate Park in Arlington has about 6 acres of reasons to helmet and knee-pad up and see if those muscles of yours are as near atrophy as the dimples in your forearms suggest. “Groms” (young skateboarders) have a chance to show off that double pop-shuvit late kickfl ip at the King of the Groms contest Oct. 24-27. – CG Best Speed Trap Butler Boulevard at Southside Boulevard Unless you’re a bored traffic cop, calling this one a “best of” is a bit of a misnomer. After JTB’s speed limit was raised to a righteous 65 (finally!), some might have doubted it could have made it to the top of this list, but the drivers on John Turner Butler Boulevard, or Butler Boulevard or JTB or Florida State Road 202, or whatever else the city decides to call it – 9C perhaps? – have proved they won’t be satisfi ed until this short strip of highway does away with speed limits altogether, à la Autobahn. – CG Best Surf Spot Best Place for People-Watching Jacksonville Beach and Pier Utterly enamored with all things ocean, Northeast Floridians have voted Jacksonville Beach and Jacksonville Beach Pier to the top of an impressive six categories in this year’s list. As far as we’re concerned, the dozen or so blocks along First Street in Jacksonville Beach near the pier are a wonderland of amusement. It’s a place where families mingle with freaks and surfers, and fishers partake in the time-honored tradition of fighting over sections of sea while beachgoers nap, frolic, swim and stare into the majestic Atlantic. Packed with bars and restaurants and shops and more, it would be a tourist trap but for the fact that locals almost always outnumber outof-towners by at least three to one. Not even two years of construction as part of the Downtown Vision Plan Project, scheduled to be completed in November, has kept away the flocks of beach cruisers and day-trippers who make this spot interesting and entertaining 365 days a year. Of the many killer fishing spots in wonderfully waterlogged Northeast Florida, none tops the nearly quarter of a mile stretch that comprises the Jacksonville Beach Pier. For only a dollar ($4 to fish, no saltwater license required), you can stroll to the end and watch the sunrise as fishers of every age, walk of life and level of expertise pull up shiny specimens of the couple of dozen species that are routinely caught from the pier. Look down and you’ll see the dawn patrol enjoying the best break in the city, frequently exchanging what can only be assumed to be pleasantries with the anglers above. As the sun arcs into an endless sky, make your way to the beach as it fills with sun-and-salt-worshippers of every shape, size, variety and costume. The diversity of the crowd has made people-watching in Jacksonville Beach a cherished pastime. Muted by the roar of the ocean, snippets of detailed analyses about whether that large, hairy man has any business wearing those leopard-print Speedos drift over sea oats-dotted dunes. There’s plenty of eye candy to go around, too, and enough ink to cast an entire season of a reality show about tattoos. At the end of the day, take one last dip as color emerges from the western sky in streaks of pink and orange that refl ect off rolling waves still carrying surfers. Then gather your towel, sunblock, cooler and various accouterments and wave goodbye to the ocean, your friend, as you climb the steps and head off into the night. – CG OCTOBER 9-15, 2013 | | 25


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