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First Coast

JACKSONVILLE, ST. AUGUSTINE & AMELIA ISLAND


CONTENTS

FLORIDA’S FIRST COAST The First Coast is chock full of natural attractions and historic buildings. Here’s what not to miss as you navigate your way through Jacksonville, Amelia Island and St. Augustine.

14 TAKING THE LONG WAY Tour the stunning waterways around Amelia Island. ON THE COVER: ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH ©LEANE J HUMPHREY/ SHUTTERSTOCK INSIDE COVER: AERIAL VIEW OF SAINT AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE AT ANASTASIA ISLAND IN FLORIDA ©RODCLEMENTPHOTOGRAPHY/ ISTOCK 2

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM ARBOGAST

22 A CULINARY EXPLORATION Deliciousness awaits around every corner in the First Coast. BY SARAH SEKULA

28 FREEDOM ON THE FIRST COAST The region’s more recent past offers a glimpse into the struggle for equal rights. BY JENNIFER GREENHILL-TAYLOR

32 COURTNEY LEWIS The musical director of the Jacksonville Philharmonic brings fresh passion for symphony to a new generation. BY JENNIFER MCKEE

34 ALL ALONG THE COAST From Amelia Island to Jacksonville down to Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine, the First Coast charms visitors with its diversity and beauty.

48 PARTING SHOT Fort Clinch on Amelia Island offers guests a glimpse into Florida’s rich history.

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CONTRIBUTORS

Jim Arbogast

Sarah Sekula

Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor

Jennifer McKee

Jim Arbogast is an Addy Awardwinning professional photographer and cinematographer in Florida. He is experienced in advertising, sports, fashion and editorial with an elite commercial client base. He consistently captures high-quality imagery, exceeding client expectations. He delivers creative results, keeping projects well organized and meeting tight deadlines. His loyal clients include the NFL, Sony, Coca-Cola, Florida Blue, Wounded Warrior Project and more.

As an award-winning journalist and video host, Sarah Sekula travels the world looking for extraordinary stories to tell. So far, her assignments for USA Today, CNN, NBC, Lonely Planet, ESPN and Islands have taken her to 35 different countries on all seven continents. She’s been exploring Florida for the past 35 years and especially loves dining out in her hometown of Jacksonville. Follow her adventures in Florida and beyond @sarahsomewhere on Instagram.

Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor is a journalist, travel writer and fiction writer who has reported on the lives of residents of the First Coast for more than 16 years. Her stories have appeared in the Florida Times Union, the Orlando Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune and Edible Orlando, among others, and she is a contributor to several international travel guides. She was a resident of Neptune Beach, and although she has moved away, part of her heart will always remain on the First Coast, with its beautiful beaches, its long and diverse history, and the people who choose to live here.

Jennifer McKee is the Managing Editor of Morris Visitor Publications, where she has worked since 2005. Growing up in small-town Michigan spurred a love of travel, and working for travel publications has only poured fuel on that passion—her list of must-visit destinations is longer now than ever before. On her first visit to the Jacksonville Symphony, she had the chance to see Courtney Lewis in action and was impressed not only with his conducting skills, but how he energized the audience and talked about bringing new generations to the symphony. She feels privileged to have interviewed him, and hopes GuestBook readers can feel his passion the same way she did.

Taking the Long Way, page 14

A Culinary Exploration, page 22

Freedom on the First Coast, page 28

Hitting the High Notes, page 32

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The Beaches Be the first to greet the sun as it rises above the Atlantic Ocean and the smooth sands come alive with color. The First Coast lures visitors to its shores season after season. From Amelia Island to Jacksonville Beach, and Ponte Vedra to Anastasia Island, they’ll find local surfing hangouts, secluded beaches, posh resorts and meticulously maintained state parks and nature areas.

FIRST LOOK

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From top-notch beaches to the oldest city in the United States, the First Coast beckons visitors with its natural beauty and rich history.

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Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach Marine Welcome Center and Shrimping Museum

Fernandina Beach is considered the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. The tiny Shrimping Museum, located in the town’s Welcome Center, teaches about all aspects of the industry, from net making to ship building. The free museum is part of the larger Amelia Island Museum of History, which offers a variety of exhibits telling the story of the island’s history, in addition to spoken tours. Drop by the Shrimping Museum in the evening for a breathtaking view of the sunset over the harbor from the front porch. 8

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Amelia Island became known as the “Queen of Summer Resorts” when wealthy families such as the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and DuPonts vacationed here at the turn of the century. Ultimately, Flagler’s railroad diverted tourists farther south, preserving Amelia Island’s Victorian charm. Visitors can spend a day in downtown Fernandina Beach, shopping at boutiques and noshing at local eateries, or enjoy water activities ranging from paddling to sailing and beyond.


Flagler College

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While students now occupy this fabulous building, visitors can discover St. Augustine’s magnificent Gilded Age on an architectural tour, highlighting the former Ponce de Leon Hotel. Real estate baron, railroad developer and Rockefeller’s business partner, Henry Flagler built the hotel in 1888, with help from friend Thomas Edison and acclaimed architects John Carrère and Thomas Hastings. The extraordinary 68-foot rotunda, 79 Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows and Austrian-crystal chandeliers leave visitors pining for the past.

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Jax Arts & Culture

The First Coast of Florida is a center for culture and the arts. Admire fantastic art at Jacksonville’s Cummer Museum & Gardens and at the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA), pictured here. See award-winning exhibits, the planetarium and live-animal shows at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH). Take in a Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra concert in downtown’s waterfront venue, or see a performance in the historic Florida Theatre or Ritz Theatre. 10

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Castillo de San Marcos

Climb into a watchtower, run your hands across centuriesold coquina and see re-enactors portray Spanish soldiers firing out to sea. The oldest masonry fort in the nation, the Castillo was built by the Spanish in 1672 to ward off English pirates. Re-enactments and demonstrations are hosted daily by the National Park Service.

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Lightner Museum

Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, the Lightner Museum is one of the most iconic structures in St. Augustine. Built in 1888, this Spanish Renaissance Revival masterpiece shelters a Victoria-era collection of antiques. Stroll through a Victorian village and view period wares through its windows, pass Native American artifacts in Gilded Age cases and visit a music room with mechanized instruments, in addition to Victorian art and stained glass work. 12

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World Golf Hall of Fame

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Lovers of the links will find much to explore at World Golf Village, including the hallowed halls of the World Golf Hall of Fame near St. Augustine. Not only can visitors explore artifacts related to golf greats and important events, they can tee up at the Hall of Fame Challenge, a monthly closest-tothe-pin contest with prizes. Special exhibits pay tribute to Arnold Palmer, Nancy Lopez and African Americans in golf.

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A leisurely exploration of the waterways around Amelia Island uncovers unparalleled beauty at every turn. PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM ARBOGAST

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TAKING THE LONG WAY


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Motorized watercraft certainly have their charms, but for a serene experience, there’s nothing that can compare to gliding along the First Coast’s waterways via paddle board or kayak. Rentals are available from companies such as Amelia Island Kayak Excursions in Fernandina Beach.

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Tie do conulla consendre ero odignit alit num vel irilit ipisi tis ad magnisl ip et lutem ing eraesto commodo lobore del iliquissim essequis augiam vel

Opposite page: You never know what or who you might spy along the route. This page: Amelia Island’s marshlands are worth exploring.

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Opposite page: Vivid blues and greens pop where the marshland meets the sky. This page: A horse grazes near the shore.

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“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Opposite page: Captain Carol Williams of On the Water Adventures offers a beautiful view of the sights. This page: A pelican skims the water’s edge as sandpipers hunt for a snack.

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From farm-to-table to seafood and everything in between, dining throughout the First Coast offers plates to please every palate. BY SARAH SEKULA

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A CULINARY EXPLORATION


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This page and opposite: The Salty Pelican offers the freshest flavors with a side order of stunning views, a perfect beachside getaway.

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Opposite page: Seared gnocchi from Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails hits all of the right flavor notes. This page: Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails in Jacksonville at night.

If you’re a foodie, the best way to acquaint yourself with a destination is by nibbling your way through its restaurants. And you’re in luck: regardless of the dining experience you seek, there are treasures to find in the restaurants and bars of Amelia Island, Jacksonville and St. Augustine. From the hippest trends to classic seafood fare, the cuisine of the First Coast demands that visitors take a deeper dive to explore the rich diversity of flavors that the area offers. With fork and knife in hand, we’ll head to the First Coast’s northernmost scene to start our delicious tour. Amelia Island is known for its long and storied past and charming, laid back vibe. Part of both past and present, however, is the island’s deep connection to seafood, and in particular, the shrimping industry. Don’t fret if you can’t make it to town in the spring in time for the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which pays homage to everyone’s favorite crustacean. Visitors to the island can enjoy the bounty year ‘round. Locals head to The Salty Pelican, a Fernandina Beach mainstay that offers the freshest fish daily. Seared tuna nachos

make for a delightful twist on a classic, while shrimp tacos with locally-caught shrimp garner rave reviews. Guests seeking a little variety can choose from several combo platters. When it’s time to whet your whistle, you can’t go wrong with time-honored traditions. The fact that the Palace Saloon has been a fixture on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach since 1903 should tell you something. Besides its impressive longevity, it has a cool backstory as a frequent haunt of such notable families as the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Rockefellers. It’s the oldest saloon in Florida still operating in its original location having survived Prohibition by turning to another treat to beat the Florida heat: ice cream. If you stop by, don’t forget to sample the famous Pirate’s Punch and a beer or cocktail (or two). As you set your sights on Jacksonville, you may be surprised to learn that the city has quietly emerged as a haven for the farm-to-table movement and craft brewing scene during the last decade. On your Jax vacation, it goes without saying that you should experience the city’s cuisine for yourself. But where to start? If you can’t decide on just one WHERET RAV EL ER ® G UEST B OOK

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Opposite page: Whet your whistle at Fernandina Beach’s historic Palace Saloon. This page: Whimsical taps remind you that buccaneers may be nigh.

Inspired to visit any and all of these spots? Here’s how to find them. The Salty Pelican 12 North Front Street Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 904.277.3811

(OPPOSITE): ©DAWNA MOORE PHOTOGRAPHY; (THIS PAGE): ©DEREMER STUDIOS LLC PHOTOGRAPHY

www.thesaltypelicanamelia.

place, create your own progressive dinner instead to check off several hot spots all in one fell swoop. Plus, you’ll be a First Coast foodie in no time. Begin by making a beeline to Bistro AIX, a cozy, high-end eatery that serves up seasonally-inspired French and Mediterranean cuisine. Located in the heart of historic San Marco, the intimate eatery is surrounded by tree-lined sidewalks, vintage store fronts, art galleries and a community theater. Inside Bistro AIX, it’s exposed brick walls, vibrant colors and an open chef’s kitchen. Belly up to the bar and order cocktails (an aged pineapple gimlet, perhaps?) to start your foodie adventure. After drinks, it’s on to the Southside for entrees at Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails. The first thing you’ll notice is all the beautiful reclaimed wood, including bar tops made from oak logs dating back to the late 1800s and a Douglas fir bench that was shipped by railcar in the early 1900s. The warm, welcoming setting will most likely put you in a good mood before you even order food. Chefs here pay close attention to sustainable sourcing and work with local artisans. Opt for the Scottish salmon dish complemented by goat cheese potatoes, arugula and truffle vinaigrette. Or try the velvety carrot soup and seared tofu. With such delightful dishes, it’s easy to see why Chef Tom Gray has racked up two James Beard Award nominations.

Wrap up the evening at the award-winning Azurea Restaurant. The in-house pastry team, led by Pastry Chef James Victorino, will wow you with a wide selection of desserts, including bourbon maple strata, pumpkin cake and poached pear hazelnut crostata. “We make all of our items in house and use the best local ingredients that we can get each season,” says Victorino. “We pride ourselves in offering a memorable experience to make our guests feel at home, which includes custom requests. I believe the best way to experience culture is through food, so I’m constantly inspired by the people around me, their stories and the specific influences that make up each region.” Besides the desserts, the seaside location is hard to beat. Sit outdoors by the fire pit and listen to the waves and maybe even walk the seashore afterward. If your travels take you to St. Augustine, Preserved Restaurant should top your must-eat list. Located in historic Lincolnville in a late-1800s Victorian house that was once the home of Thomas Jefferson’s greatgranddaughter, stepping through the doors ushers you back in time. The menu, a celebration of Southern cuisine, offers local fare and an ingredient-driven menu. Sunday brunch is a serene and laid-back affair replete with roasted oysters, house-smoked salmon Benedict, and from scratch buttermilk biscuits. Supper, served Wednesday through Sunday, highlights local seafood and other fresh flavors. If you’re looking for something a little outside of the box, Llama, offering Peruvian cuisine, is a solid choice. The vegan mango ceviche, quinotto (a creamy quinoa risotto with a mixture of fresh seafood) and algarrobina custard topped with berries and spun sugar will put a smile on your face, indeed.

com The Palace Saloon 117 Centre Street Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 844.441.2444 www.thepalacesaloon.com Bistro AIX 1440 San Marco Boulevard Jacksonville, FL 32207 904.398.1949 www.bistrox.com Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails 4972 Big Island Drive Jacksonville, FL 32246 904.998.9744 www.moxiefl.com Azurea 1 Ocean Boulevard Atlantic Beach, FL 32233 904.249.7402 www.oneoceanresort.com Preserved 102 Bridge Street St. Augustine, FL 32084 904.679.4940 www.preservedrestaurant. com Llama Restaurant 415 Anastasia Boulevard St. Augustine, FL 32080 904.819.1760 www.llamarestaurant.com


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PHOTO CREDIT GOTHAM BOOK 5.5/9PT

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., confronts motel manager James Brock in 1964, after the latter poured acid into his hotel’s swimming pool in an attempt to intimidate black and white swimmers, who were protesting the motel’s whites-only swimming policy.


FREEDOM ON THE FIRST COAST Following in the footsteps of civil rights activists BY JENNIFER GREENHILL-TAYLOR

The history of the First Coast region captivates the imagination, conjuring up visions of daring conquistadors, cunning swashbucklers and tenacious settlers. But nearer to our own time, there are stories to be told that are every bit as rich as any buccaneer exploit or search for mythical fountains promising eternal youth: the stories of the civil rights movement in northern coastal Florida, and the impact they have had on a nation. The upheaval of the civil rights movement of the 1960s offers a prime example of change brought about by chaos. More than a half century later, visitors can tour local sites that honor the brave actions of those who risked their lives to bring about change.

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Opposite page: Peaceful protests. This page: Kingsley Plantation on the African-American Heritage Trail; James Brock pours acid into a hotel’s pool.

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in particular one of a motel manager pouring acid into the motel’s pool after a group of black and white protesters jumped in, were broadcast around the world, helping to ensure that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. Today, there are many ways for visitors to explore this rich vein of diversity and civil rights activism in the First Coast’s history, which includes guided and self-guided tours, trails, museums, monuments and more. Jacksonville offers two self-guided tours: The African-American Heritage Trail and the Jacksonville Civil Rights self-guided audio tour, conveniently available as a phone app. The tours have maps and information about more than 20 sites. While touring, visit the Civil Rights Demonstration Marker at 135 W. Monroe St., which marks the occasion of a 1960 sit-in at a local department store that erupted into violence when whites attacked the young, black demonstrators. The event has become known as “Ax Handle Saturday” and is depicted in a mural at 915 Philip Randolph Blvd.

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Settled by Europeans almost 500 years ago, the First Coast’s original occupants included the first AfricanAmericans, sailors and soldiers from Africa, who arrived with Pedro Menendez in 1565. In fact, St. Augustine was named for an African saint. In Jacksonville, freed slaves contributed greatly to the building of a strong AfricanAmerican middle class. But by the early 1960s, frustrated by centuries of racism and oppression, their descendants had had enough. The struggle culminated in the summer of 1964, when leaders of the escalating civil rights movement arrived to support the sit-ins, swim-ins and other actions that had been going on for months. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached nonviolence in St. Augustine, but his opponents didn’t heed his words. He was arrested and taken to Jacksonville. During the tumultuous time, police and white supremacists engaged in acts of violence that were photographed by international media, who happened to be gathered in St. Augustine to commemorate the city’s upcoming 400th birthday. These shocking images,


For more information, visit the following websites and locations. United States Civil Rights Trail www.civilrightstrail.com

African-American Heritage Trail www.jaxheritagetrail.com

Other spots to visit include LaVilla, a historic AfricanAmerican neighborhood adjacent to downtown, known as the “Harlem of the South.” There, you’ll find The Ritz, which hosted many well-known performers in its heyday, and now houses a museum of Jacksonville’s African-American history that includes information on the civil rights era. Students of Dr. King’s work should also take time to see Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, where he delivered his “This Is a Great Time to Be Alive” sermon promoting nonviolent resistance. The Federal Courthouse is also deemed significant as the place where Dr. King asked a judge to overturn a ban against nighttime civil rights marches in St. Augustine. The judge agreed, and the St. Augustine marches continued. Traveling south to St. Augustine, consider booking a tour through St. Augustine Black Heritage & Civil Rights Tours. The 90-minute experience follows in the footsteps of civil rights leaders. Tour manager Bernadette Reeves has interviewed locals involved in the movement, and shares first-hand accounts

of those who risked their lives to stand up against oppression. For a self-guided tour experience, The ACCORD website offers an extensive history of the movement. It also offers a free, self-guided 30-site audio app that can be accessed by calling (904) 335-3002. A link to a map is sent, and each location has a detailed audio description. One of the sites on the tour is the ACCORD Civil Rights Museum. Open by appointment only, the museum is housed in the former dental office of Dr. Robert Hayling, who held planning sessions there with Dr. King and others. The museum displays articles, stories, and artifacts. Any student of civil rights history making the pilgrimage to St. Augustine should also visit the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center as well. Housed in St. Augustine’s first black public high school, the museum is in Lincolnville, established near downtown after the Civil War. The current main exhibition, “Lincolnville Lifeways,” illustrates more than 450 years of African-American presence, from first landing through the civil rights era.

The Ritz 829 N. Davis St., Jacksonville www.ritzavilla.org

Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church 2503 N. Myrtle Ave., Jacksonville

St. Augustine Black Heritage & Civil Rights Tours Inc. 4 Granada St., St. Augustine www.staugustineblack heritagetours.com

ACCORD Freedom Trail www.accordfreedomtrail.org

Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center 102 M. L. King Ave., St. Augustine www.lincolnvillemuseum.com


Q&A

HITTING THE HIGH NOTES Jacksonville Symphony Music Director Courtney Lewis is known for helping orchestras realize their highest level of artistry. In 2020, he leads the symphony to the prestigious SHIFT Festival. INTERVIEWED BY JENNIFER MCKEE

What drew you to the Jacksonville Symphony?

I was invited to guest conduct in 2014. I thought the orchestra was excellent, and there was also a good chemistry with the musicians on the stage. Also, I felt the community here wanted somebody who would help the orchestra to grow. What are the main things you’ve done to help the orchestra grow?

We changed the kinds of concerts that we offer, so we now have a 32

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much broader range. We have a lot more classical programming. There’s a broader repertoire in Masterworks concerts. We increased the size of the full-time complement of the orchestra to 60—and that meant that we’ve been able to bring a lot of new musicians into the orchestra, which has really reenergized it. What do you feel is the best way to introduce new generations to the symphony?

Come to a concert. Either come to Symphony in 60, which is an informal concert, because I explain the music from the stage. But also I would suggest coming to a Masterworks concert. The 12 weekends through the season that we’re presenting classical music are really spectacularly curated events. We bring in world-class artists; we have a spectacular concert hall here at Jacoby Symphony Hall, acoustically one of the best in the whole state. It’s a very exciting atmosphere on those nights. Just set aside whatever prejudices you have or whatever

you think you know about classical music, and you’ll be surprised at the experience you have. Who do you admire in classical music?

A big influence is Simon Rattle, the English conductor, who’s the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra now; he used to be at the Berlin Philharmonic, and before that the city of Birmingham City Orchestra in the midlands of England. His vision of an orchestra is as something that’s integral to the community, that is playing a range of music and has strong education programs. Just his concept of the conductor as a leader and of a person who can lead an institution forward.

Center and also community engagement events. But the concert and events have to be a reflection of what you’ve already been doing in your community. We designed a proposal for a concert that features the influence of jazz in classical music. That’s reflective of our composer in residence, Courtney Bryan, who’s a jazz pianist who also writes for orchestra. She went into schools in Jacksonville and created a program called “Compose Yourself” where students would write a piece that sounded like their community. This was really successful. So we’re going to bring that same project with her to Washington D.C. What are your favorite things to do around Jacksonville?

Please talk about the SHIFT Festival and its importance.

This year is the third and final SHIFT Festival, a festival that celebrates American symphony orchestras. Orchestras are invited to submit an application that has a suggestion for a concert program to be performed at the Kennedy

I like to go to the beach. I walk my dog along Neptune and Atlantic Beaches. I like shopping in my neighborhood, RiversideAvondale. I enjoy cooking, so I often have friends over and cook for them. And I work out, I like going to the gym. It’s much easier to work out when it’s sunny.

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Courtney Lewis made his debut in 2008 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and quickly became recognized as one of his generation’s rising talents. Notable stints include assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and music director of Boston’s Discovery Ensemble. The dynamic music director is reaching out to a new generation of symphony-goers, sharing his passion for music and with a robust program schedule at the Jacksonville Symphony.


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Jacksonville Symphony Music Director Courtney Lewis is passionate about introducing a new generation to the magic of symphony.

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ALL ALONG THE COAST AMELIA ISLAND, JACKSONVILLE AND ST. AUGUSTINE

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ALL ALONG THE COAST

The First Coast is the quintessential Florida vacation spot. Miles of beaches, classic oceanfront resorts, scenic golf courses and plenty of family activities, such as riding horses, exploring historic sites, tromping through state parks and combing the sand for seashells, are all on offer. From the timeless allure of Amelia Island and the historic charm of St. Augustine to the big-city culture of Jacksonville, there’s something for every traveler. 36

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Amelia Island’s Timeless Beauty Approached from the south on Highway A1A, Amelia Island unfurls as a part of Talbot Island State Park, with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean framed by maritime hardwood, pine forest and salt marshes. The highway, dappled by sun and shadow from enormous oaks, gives way here and there to narrow roads leading to the beach. Plush oceanfront resorts whiz by, followed by winter homes and, then, the charming town of Fernandina Beach. Just to the north, Fort Clinch stands as one of the oldest military forts in the country,

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A shrimp boat, pelicans, and sea gulls at a dock, Amelia Island


Big Talbot Island’s Boneyard Beach WHERET RAV EL ER ® G UEST B OOK

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Located on the waterfront in historic downtown Fernandina

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12 North Front Street | 904-277-3811 www.thesaltypelicanamelia.com

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Best Views for Sunset! Happy Hour Fresh local seafood Full Bar Open Daily from 11 am

Wicked BAO

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Come enjoy a new concept in food in a delightful, historical building Dine In or Take Out. Dinner 4-9pm Monday to Saturday. 232 N 2nd St. • Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 • 904-775-5577 WickedBao.com

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although it never saw a battle, and much of the land that surrounds is still undeveloped, calling visitors to come explore. Before it was a vacation spot, Amelia’s rich past included pirates, soldiers and real-estate barons. Timucuan Indians were the island’s first residents, but over the last 400 years, Amelia has been fought over by nearly all of the colonial powers, earning the name “Isle of Eight Flags.” The U.S. finally captured Amelia Island in 1817, but because of its contentious history, it retains a mix of cultural influences in its architecture, development and seagoing ports. In the following decades, the region morphed from a commerce center based around the fishing and military industries to a major tourism destination when the Mallory Steamship Line began bringing in wealthy travelers from New York to Florida’s first beach at the turn of the century. One of the best ways for visitors to learn about the area’s Victorian past is on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic district of Fernandina Beach. After clip-clopping through town, step back in time with an old-fashioned cocktail at the Palace Saloon, considered the oldest bar in Florida, dating back to 1903. Local lore says Fernandina, a major shipping port at the time, was overrun by bawdy sailors looking for wine and women between deployments. The Palace was created as an elegant alternative, hoping to lure ship captains, yachtsmen and families like the DuPonts, Carnegies and Vanderbilts who vacationed nearby. Today, it still features its original tile-mosaic floor, embossed-tin ceiling and an elegant mahogany and oak bar. Another way to get familiar with Amelia’s fascinating past is at the Amelia Island Museum of History, the state’s first spoken-history museum, which offers ghost tours, private walking tours and daily docent-led tours. As one would expect in a Florida island town, most activities take place on or near the water. One of Amelia’s most iconic must-dos is horseback riding on the beach. Kelly Seahorse Ranch and Amelia Island Horseback Riding provide expert guides and gorgeous horses. Even if you’ve never been in the saddle, the well-trained, gentle horses are suitable for novices. While on your ride, you’re likely to see a host of seabirds, dolphins and, of course, blue-green waves lapping the sandy shore. While the ocean might be the first thing on many travelers’ minds when they think of Amelia Island, the vast marshland to the west offers endless peaceful creeks to explore. The meandering waterways are perhaps best explored under your own power by stand up paddle board or kayak, available for rental on the island. Gliding through the water offers a different perspective on the area’s flora and fauna, and allows for peaceful, up-close interaction, as you skim along the water’s surface nearly at eye level. The beach scenes on Amelia Island are as diverse as they come. Whether it’s the lively Main Beach Park near town or the secluded natural dunes of Fort Clinch State Park, the island’s 13 miles of coastline pack an unbelievable amount of recreational possibility and sheer natural beauty that keep visitors coming back time and time again.


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AMELIA ISLAND MUSEUM OF HISTORY

Housed in the historic county jail, the Museum showcases the island’s 4,000 years of Florida history! Delve in to the lives of the Timucuan natives, experience the Civil War in Nassau County, explore the Spanish Missions of La Florida, learn about the Birthplace of the Modern Shrimping Industry, or set Sail on the Discovery Ship. Feeling adventurous? Join our Ghost Tour. Tiptoe through dark streets as the past comes alive through skillful storytelling. This tour begins at 6pm every Friday and lasts one hour. Museum Hours: 10am-4pm, Mon-Sat, 1pm-4pm Sun Admission: $8 adults, $5 students/active military (includes entry to the Museum and a Docent led tour at 11am and 2pm) Email: info@ameliamuseum.org. 233 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

904-261-7378

www.ameliamuseum.org

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Jacksonville: From River to Sea Jacksonville, the largest city by landmass in the nation and Northeast Florida’s historic urban economic engine, is a natural water wonderland that sports more shoreline than any other city in the U.S., with 22 miles of beaches, 40 miles of the Intracoastal Waterway and the longest stretch of the St. Johns River in the state of Florida. Founded in 1822, Jacksonville is home to the largest urban-park system in the country with more than 400 city parks, two national parks and seven state parks that are rife with 40

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watersports such as swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, scuba diving, boating and fishing, in addition to land activities like hiking, camping, biking and wildlife observation. Jacksonville is also a growing culinary destination, featuring hundreds of restaurants with tailored menus showcasing local produce, fresh seafood and provisions. A similar highlight are the many cocktail lounges and craft breweries. Downtown Jacksonville combines big-city offerings with small-town charm and Southern hospitality. With 9 million annual visitors, it is “The Winter City in a Summer Land,” a phrase coined in the 1870s during the rise of Florida’s tourism industry. The St. Johns River, which once buzzed with paddle wheelers, steamships and schooners, remains the lifeblood of the district as luxury yachts, water taxis and sunset cruises sail past the thriving cultural corridors.

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Skyline of Jacksonville and Main Street Bridge at Sunset


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©JILLIAN CAIN PHOTOGRAPHY/SHUTTERSTOCK

Clean and beautiful Jacksonville Riverwalk, one and a quarter mile paved promenade along the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville

The Riverwalk and Main Street Bridge connect the north and south bank of downtown Jacksonville via a three-mile pedestrian pathway for walkers and cyclists. Another way to get from one side of the river to the other easily is to hop aboard a water taxi or the free Skyway automated tram system that glides above the river and city streets to connect various points of interest. On the Northbank is Jacksonville Landing, a riverfront marketplace modeled after Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Next door is the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Jacksonville Symphony. On the Southbank is St. Johns River Park with its stunning Friendship Fountain and MOSH, a science and history museum with a planetarium. Stretching across Downtown Jacksonville’s core are more than 50 venues that host the monthly First Wednesday Art Walk. On Saturdays, from March to December, the Riverside Arts Market, located under the Fuller Warren Bridge, presents an outdoor bazaar of live music, food and

crafts. For modern art, check out Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)’s rotating exhibitions. The Florida Theatre, an iconic entertainment venue once home to vaudeville acts and silent films, now caters to all tastes in music, comedy and performance. On the city’s east side, find TIAA Bank Field, home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the annual Florida-Georgia game and big-name concerts. Downtown Jacksonville’s entertainment district, aka The Elbow, is a walkable juncture of award-winning culinary, nightlife, live-music and performance venues. Cultivated around the historic Florida Theatre, The Elbow encompasses restaurants and bars between Bay and Adams Streets and Main and Liberty Streets. Nearby, in the historic neighborhood of San Marco, Mediterranean influence meets a burgeoning dining district. Stroll along San Marco Square and discover incredible bistros, upscale boutiques and sensational art WHERET RAV EL ER ® G UEST B OOK

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WASABI Located in the upscale St. John’s Town Center, Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse has become a Jacksonville favorite for exceptional sushi and hibachi-style steaks. Originally established in Knoxville, TN in 2002, Wasabi has continually been awarded recognition as one of the top Japanese restaurants in the East Tennessee area. Wasabi has expanded to four contemporarily-designed locations in the Southeast and regularly redesigns itself and explores innovative flavors to continue giving customers a fresh, new experience when they come celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events, proms, graduations, and more. With a dynamic menu range from exquisite sushi to succulent meats and delectable seafood, patrons can enjoy their meals at the energetic bar, the lively hibachi tables, the intimate sushi bar, or the outdoor patio. Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse is proud to call St. John’s Town Center home for its newest location. 10206 River Coast Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32246

904.997.6528

www.wasabi-steakhouse.com

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RIVER & POST

RESTAURANT & ROOFTOP LOUNGE At the corner of Riverside Avenue & Post Street in Jacksonville’s historic Five Points district, you’ll find this exciting restaurant concept with a rooftop lounge offering breathtaking views of the St. John’s River and downtown. River & Post specializes in fresh seafood and steaks, daily chef’s features, delectable charcuterie, and incredible craft cocktails. With the rustic, upscale-casual atmosphere in the dining room and the gorgeous rooftop views, this culinary experience has been a favorite in Jax, consistently winning local awards since opening its doors in 2017. Be sure to visit the 9th floor lounge for live music on Friday and Saturday evenings or the pet-friendly 1st floor patio for brunch on relaxing Sunday afternoons. 1000 Riverside Ave #100, Jacksonville, FL 32204

904.575.2366

www.riverandpostjax.com


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BLACK SHEEP RESTAURANT

DINE IN. MEET UP. WIND DOWN.

RESTAURANT ORSAY

Black Sheep Restaurant is a modern American restaurant located in the historic Five Points district of Jacksonville’s Riverside neighborhood. The restaurant’s culinary philosophy is simple: use fresh, local ingredients to create handcrafted food and cocktails, and deliver both with gracious service. Black Sheep offers a full bar, signature cocktails, craft beers and an excellent wine list — not to mention a rooftop bar and lounge with beautiful views of Riverside, Downtown, and the St. Johns River. Since it first opened in 2012, Black Sheep has consistently earned recognition on various reader polls and “Best of Jacksonville” lists from outlets such as Jacksonville Magazine, Folio Weekly, and Void Magazine. Black Sheep is open Tuesday through Friday serving lunch and dinner and Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Closed on Monday’s.

Located in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville, Bellwether is making its mark on the local culinary scene. Like its sister restaurants, Orsay and Black Sheep, Bellwether reflects chef and owner Jon Insetta’s focus on exceptional flavors, while spotlighting the culinary creativity of chef Kerri Rogers. Her modern culinary chops recently earned her the Chef’s Choice award at Fish to Fork competition. Her unique style and use of fresh seasonal ingredients are showcased in items such as the Korean Fried Broccoli, while dishes such as Braised Short Ribs and Duck Confit offer her modern take on classic preparations. Bellwether also features a full bar with craft cocktails, extensive wine list, and local craft beer.

Located slightly off the beaten path in the Avondale Historic District, Restaurant Orsay attracts regular locals and foodies from across the southeast by showcasing their French Cuisine in a warm, inviting atmosphere, without being pretentious or stuffy. Owner Jonathan Insetta, Managing Partner Jason Eddy, and Executive Chef Michael McKinney, work to bring locally sourced ingredients together with genuine southern hospitality. Recognized as Jacksonville’s best restaurant by locals in Folio Weekly for the last six years, Restaurant Orsay is a premier dining destination on the First Coast. The establishment is accredited by AAA with four diamonds, has won numerous awards for food, service and wine, and is the only independent establishment in North Florida with Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence.

1534 Oak Street, Jacksonville, FL

www.bellwetherjax.com

904.380.3091

www.blacksheep5points.com

Bellwether, 100 N Laura Street Suite 100, Jacksonville, FL 32202

904.802.7745

3630 Park Street, Jacksonville, FL

904.381.0909

www.restaurantorsay.com

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ALL ALONG THE COAST

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CRANE RAMEN Ramen and Craft Cocktails

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IN JACKSONVILLE 2 YEARS RUNNING!

CRANERAMEN.COM • (904) 253-3282 1029 PARK STREET, Jacksonville, Florida 32204 44

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galleries. Also located within the square is San Marco Theatre, an art deco movie house, and Theatre Jacksonville, the oldest community theater in the country dating back to 1938. Don’t miss the San Marco fountain of lions, which reflects the neighborhood’s Venetian influence. Riverside Avondale is internationally renowned for its distinctive mix of history, culture, character and community, and is considered one of American’s great historic neighborhoods. During the peak years of Riverside’s development from 1895 to 1929, following the great fire that consumed downtown, the neighborhood became a laboratory for aspiring architects. The richness and variety of homes built during this period range from Colonial Revival, Georgian, Shingle Style to Queen Anne/ Victorian, Bungalow and Tudor. Canopied residential streets lead visitors to pocket parks, some with river access, and quaint shopping districts where boutiques, restaurants and bars nest in 1920s-era commercial buildings. Nearby, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens offers world-class art spanning from 2100 B.C. through the 21st century. In the 1920s, Five Points began as a commercial district catering to the rapidly growing residential areas surrounding it. Although officially a part of the Riverside-Avondale Historic District, Five Points evolved into one of Jacksonville’s most vibrant urban-core districts. Tattoo parlors sit comfortably among fashion boutiques and Jacksonville’s finest independent film house, Sun-Ray Cinema, which first opened in 1927 as the Riverside Theatre, the first in the city to screen films with sound. The attractive 1920sera commercial strip with its unique architecture and colorful storefronts ends at the Five Points intersection with its iconic blinking light. Just beyond is one of the city’s most scenic and restful spaces, Memorial Park, which overlooks the St. Johns River. To the east over on the city’s ocean side lie three beach communities, each with its own personality and style. A skyline of high-rise condos and hotels dips to its lowest point along the residential village of Neptune Beach, where building-height restrictions leave the sandy shores bathed in constant sunlight. Marking the division between Neptune and Atlantic Beach, the artsy entertainment district of Beaches Town Center is an inviting, pedestrian-friendly area housing boutiques, fitness centers, restaurants and two oceanfront hotels. Enjoy Atlantic Beach’s two miles of white sandy shore with 14 ocean-access points in addition to 65 acres dedicated to parks, including the Dutton Island Preserve on the Intracoastal Waterway. The relaxed coastal town of Jacksonville Beach is the commercial hub of the area’s three beach towns. Home to towering condos and hotels, Jax Beach sports a host of restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Check out the Sea Walk that runs north along the coast from the end of Beach Boulevard. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride. Surfers, anglers and beach bums all live the “Salt Life,” a popular phrase that was coined here and can now be found on T-shirts and bumper stickers around the country. The historic Casa Marina hotel, previously a haunt for silent-film-era stars, is a great place to enjoy dinner while watching the moonrise on the Atlantic.


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©RODCLEMENTPHOTOGRAPHY/SHUTTERSTOCK

View of Saint Augustine Lighthouse

St. Augustine’s Historic Charm There just might be some truth to the Fountain of Youth after all. The oldest city in the U.S. celebrated its 450th birthday in 2015, and it’s never looked better. In preparation for its visit from the king and queen of Spain for the anniversary, some of the city’s most notable buildings got major makeovers. Flagler College, the Government House, the mission, the lighthouse and other significant sites completed renovations totaling more than $20 million. Guests came pouring into a city that’s home to just 13,000 residents.

“All the publicity and attention surrounding St. Augustine’s 450th birthday celebration helped create awareness of the cultural diversity, the rich history and natural beauty surrounding the nation’s oldest city,” said Richard Goldman, president and CEO of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches Visitor & Convention Bureau. St. Augustine isn’t resting on its laurels. In this destination city, the celebration goes on. On any given day, tourists sip sangria from upstairs balconies, and bands play live on the bay and inside St. George Street courtyards. Costumed guides lead spirited ghost tours nightly, and Christmas is celebrated for two whole months as the historic district’s grandest landmarks dazzle in 2 million lights. St. Augustine has the feel of a European town, channeling the spirit and style of New Orleans without the bawdiness. Whether it’s admiring the city’s architecture, visiting the historic sites or spending a relaxing day by the ocean, there is much to see and do in this small but dynamic town. WHERET RAV EL ER ® G UEST B OOK

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the famous guests were Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, Joseph Pulitzer, Mark Twain and Babe Ruth. Today, the city annually attracts 6 million tourists—families, history buffs and beach bums alike who want to experience the rich history, local flavor and lively atmosphere. Every eatery from tiny, Spanish bakeries to oceanfront seafood shacks and elegant dining rooms in Victorian mansions are serving up innovative cuisine that’s at once respectful of the past and on-trend. Foodies will find a melting pot of Southern, Spanish, Caribbean and Floribbean cuisines featuring local seafood and farm-fresh produce. After enjoying a taste of the city, tourists take to the streets with a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour or an old-fashioned horse-and-buggy ride. Visitors can choose from a dozen more historic sites to relive the story of St. Augustine, from obvious sites such as the massive Castillo de San Marcos and the bustling St. George Street to hidden gems such as the ivy-covered Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche. St. Augustine offers a plethora of attractions for children as well, from the country’s original Ripley’s Believe It or Not and first wax museum (Potter’s) to an 1874 lighthouse and the country’s first alligator farm, which is well worth an afternoon’s visit. Finally, no visitor to Florida can forget the beaches. It was, in fact, the beautiful safe harbor and smooth shoreline that drew those first explorers to the area more than 500 years ago. And the rest is history.

Morning reflections at Salt Run

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©JON BILOUS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Through the centuries, St. Augustine has reinvented itself time and time again. The Fountain of Youth, once a kitschy roadside attraction, has evolved into a living-history museum and park. Tales of 18th-century pirates have materialized into a popular bayfront museum for families. The five-star resort built by Henry Flagler is now the home of 7,000 college students. And in the country’s oldest city, the most popular attraction on Trip Advisor, the St. Augustine Distillery, is only a few years old. St. Augustine is proud of its strong foundation, but it continues to add layers of culture, cuisine and history that make it a rich and relevant vacation destination today. In April 1513, explorer Ponce de León landed near St. Augustine, staking a claim for the Spanish crown and christening the land la Florida in honor of his country’s Easter Feast of the Flowers. He sent word back to the old country that Florida was an ideal place for a new colony, and in 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés returned to the very spot and established the first permanent European settlement in the United States, predating Jamestown by 94 years and Plymouth by 107 years. Over the centuries, St. Augustine was the center of Spanish and then British Colonial life in America and, in the 1880s, a vacation destination with the addition of a railroad and three luxury hotels developed by Henry Flagler. The daily rate at the Hotel Ponce de Leon for guests staying the winter season was $39, which equates to $100,000 today. Among


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FLAGLER LEGACY TOURS Step inside and step back in time! Experience the magic of the Gilded Age at the Hotel Ponce de Leon home to Flagler College. Tours daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Historic Tours of Flagler College highlights the architectural heritage of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, a nationally designated historic landmark building, built by Henry Flagler in 1888. Millionaire industrialist/developer Henry Morrison Flagler envisioned creating an American Riviera in St. Augustine, and the Hotel Ponce de Leon, now Flagler College, has recaptured the architectural spirit of old Europe. The Hotel is as prestigious now as it was in 1888. This beautiful Spanish Revival structure represents proof that preserving the past is compatible with modern urban life. 74 King Street, St. Augustine, FL

904.823.3378 Legacy.flagler.edu

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A Stalwart Defense ALTHOUGH IT NEVER SAW COMBAT, FORT CLINCH ON AMELIA ISLAND HAS ENJOYED A LONG AND STORIED PAST. TODAY, VISITORS CAN EXPLORE THE FORT AS A STATE PARK, INCLUDING TOURS OF THE GROUNDS, HISTORICAL RE-ENACTMENTS AND DEPICTIONS OF DAILY LIFE AT THE FORT.

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PHOTO ©JIM ARBOGAST CREDIT GOTHAM BOOK 5.5/9PT

PARTING SHOT


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PLAN YOUR VISIT TODAY. WORLD GOLF VILLAGE | ST. AUGUSTINE, FL worldgolfhalloffame.org


TASTE the Life

Jacksonville Beach | St. Augustine Beach | Fernandina Beach

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Guestbook Jacksonville Dec 2019  

Guestbook Jacksonville Dec 2019