Thursday, November 13, 2014

Exploring San Marco

We have lived in our new rental house for three months now, and we've really been enjoying it. Aside from liking the house itself (and I hope to be sharing more about that next week), we also really like our new neighborhood. We're much closer to downtown Jacksonville, and our new home is in a much more walkable location than our Jacksonville apartment was. Walkability is really something we look for in our neighborhood, and although our old place was very accessible to all the comforts of suburban living (read: chain restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), it was not particularly pedestrian-friendly. Here, however, we are a bit more removed from malls, Targets, and chain restaurants, but there are lots of great spots that we can get to on our own two feet.

Most frequently visited, of course, are the local playgrounds. The first one we discovered has been coined the "train park" because it backs up to the train tracks and large freight trains often pass by. That can be either good or bad, depending on how your kid feels about loud trains. (For my kids, it varies day to day.) They have a nice separate toddler area, larger climbing structures for the big kids and lots of picnic tables. The other great thing about this park is that it's right behind the local branch of the library, so we've taken to hitting storytime at the library and then hanging out for playtime at the park afterwards. All that family fun in walking distance from our house? Score!

Having a picnic at the park right around when we first moved in to this house!

The kids being the cutest at storytime at the library

Crafts at storytime

Playing in the tunnel at the playground

The swings are Ellie's favorite!

There's also the park we call the "seahorse park," which is Ellie's favorite park. It is so-called because of the seahorse rocking things in the toddler portion of the park. There are also swings (that I like because they're in the shade during the day), slides and various climbing structures. We frequent the seahorse park quite often!

Ellie at the seahorse park


To get to the seahorse park from our house, we walk along the river, which has allowed us to catch some great sunset views.

How gorgeous is that?

Shrimping at sunset

Pretty girl in silhouette

Orange-colored sky

Another fun park space to walk to is Friendship Fountain, right across the river from downtown. Ellie loves to visit the fountain because rainy days often lead to a great number of puddles around the fountain, perfect for stomping in with polka dot rainboots. As for Eric and me, we enjoy the views!

Friendship Fountain

Ellie having fun in the puddles around the fountain!

The Main Street Bridge, as seen from the fountain

Friendship Fountain at night

Downtown views from Friendship Fountain. The Wells Fargo building says, "Go Jaguars!"

Not far from Friendship Fountain is Treaty Oak, a 250-year-old Southern live oak in the middle of a park. The trunk of the tree is massive and the branches dip down to the ground. They've built a boardwalk around it so you can admire the tree up close. This is where we took the kids' Peter Pan and Tinkerbell costume portraits!

Treaty Oak

Ellie at Treaty Oak

Walking among the branches

Treaty Oak (and Ellie!) at sunset

We're also very near the Museum of Science and History, which I have heard is excellent but we have yet to make a visit. Perhaps in the new year we'll get ourselves a membership - that seems like a great cold-weather-day activity!


Last but not least on this list of San Marco highlights is San Marco Square. It is home to a variety of local shops and restaurants, and in some ways reminds me of Hoboken. The bars are hopping on weekend nights (though we have yet to check out that scene, given that we have a billion children at home that require bedtime routines and general supervision...killjoys), there's a cute little movie theater I'm just dying to actually enjoy, and the center of the square features a lovely fountain and lion statue. It's a nice place to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, day or night!

San Marco Square

The fountain in the square

Lions statue

The movie theater. How badly do you want to see a movie here and then stop at a bar for a nice drink with your husband? Surely that can't be just me.

I'm really pleased with our new location. It's nice to be back in a place where I can walk to do what I want to do. Yes, we do still have to get in the car for Target or Publix or the post office, etc. It's still a far cry from our NYC life, which was lived almost entirely on foot (or public transit!). But just to be able to take a nice stroll with my family with a fun destination just minutes away is really, really nice. I'm so glad we found this area!

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