Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Jacksonville & Saint Augustine, FL.
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Jacksonville & Saint Augustine, FL
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Jacksonville we’ll see ring-billed herring, great black-backed gulls, warblers and royal terns.
At Visit Jacksonville (visitjacksonville.com/things-to-do/outdoors/birding/) you’ll learn about the “Great Florida Birding Trail” and more specifically about birding at Amelia Island’s Fort Clinch State Park and Huguenot Memorial Park.
Trails.com (trails.com/) has specific information on birding trails in the Greater Jacksonville area.
You might think that birding at the Jacksonville Zoo (jacksonvillezoo.org/things/bird_watching_at_the_zoo/) is akin to going to a restaurant instead of cooking, but they have created a very inviting habitat for our feathered friends.
Transportation: This is the site for information on public transportation for the Jacksonville area (jtafla.com).
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Business Information: Here is help in regard to your business: (coj.net/about-jacksonville.aspx)
Day One: Head to the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens – Tu-Sa: 10-4, Tu: till 9, Su: 12-4, 829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, 904-356-6857
At the Cummer there is a strong emphasis on educational opportunities through work shops, concerts, films and lectures. Their collection includes early Meissen Porcelain and masterpieces created by Camille Pissarro, Gilbert Stuart, John Twachtman, Norman Rockwell, and Romare Bearden.
Next visit the Ritz Theatre and Museum – Tu-F: 10-4, Sa: 12-4, 829 North Davis Street, Jacksonville, 904-632-5555
The Permanent exhibit features a salute to LaVilla’s native sons, James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson, and the voices of the late renowned actor Ossie Davis, educator Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, and singer/actor Harry Burney.
This original exhibition explores a little-known aspect of history which reveals the shared strength of African-American communities in Florida prior to desegregation, urban renewal and the Civil Rights era.
Photographs depicting community life in the historic La Villa neighborhood, once known as “the Harlem of the South” in the 1940s and 1950s, were taken by the late Jacksonville African-American professional photographer Ellie Weems and were obtained from the archives of the Ritz Theatre and Museum.
Lunch today is at b b’s – L & D: M-Sa, 1019 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, 904-306-0100 is a fun place for lunch that specializes in small plates.
The stuffed mozzarella bruschetta baked in sourdough with marinated tomato, pinenuts and fresh basil is addictive and so is the meze platter of hummus with toasted pita, jalapeno chips, artichoke guacamole, olives and roasted garlic are both fun starters.
Several signature pizzas are available, but the crispy crab cake sandwich on focaccia with roasted tomato remoulade and napa cabbage-peanut slaw or the ancho spiced turkey on ciabatta bread with avocado mayo, smoked bacon and havarti cheese are favs.
The “11 Grenache Blanc/Roussane from Perin is a good wine choice. Don’t miss the coconut cake.
Our Cousin Joe suggests that we take a walk around the Riverside District, since 1985 it’s been a historic area.
From March to December it’s home to the Riverside Arts Market held on Saturdays from 10-4 featuring music, street performers, arts and crafts and, of course, local food.
Memorial Park offers a walking track and spots where you can throw a fishing line in the water. Around Five Points you will find an eclectic collection of shops and bars.
Our Cousin Ted suggests a visit to Peterbrook Chocolatier – 3552 St. Johns Ave. for their divine gelato.
Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at Restaurant Orsay – D: Daily, Br: Su, 3630 Park St, Jacksonville, 904-381-0909
For your starter they have a great oyster bar or maybe the sea scallop tartar with cucumber, jalapeno and a lime vinaigrette.
Have a glass of the ’11 Adelsheim Pinot Gris with either.
Your entrée is the pan roasted fish with Anson Mills grits, bacon and lobster butter or the pork shank with roasted vegetables and jus.
We suggest the ’07 Peay “La Bruma” Syrah for your wine. Dessert has to be the carrot cake with blond chocolate, mascarpone icing, carrot coulis and sugared walnuts.
Day Two: Breakfast today is at the Maple Street Biscuit Company – B & L: M-Sa, 2004 San Marco Blvd, Jacksonville, 904-398-1004
Their menu includes the “Loaded Goat” which is a combination of fried chicken and a fried goat cheese medallion on a fluffy biscuit. “The Five” is crispy fried chicken, bacon, cheese covered in sausage gravy on a flakey biscuit.
Additional items are “Smokey Mountain Mac-N-Cheese”, “Hash Ups” and “Sweet Potato Fries”.
The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve – 12713 Ft Caroline Rd, Jacksonville, 904-641-7155 is a must visit, see and explore experience.
Allow as much time as you possibly can to see literally thousands of years of history. It is named for the Timucua Indians who lived in northern Florida and South Georgia during the Spanish colonization.
Pottery remnants found in the area date to 2500 BC. This is one of the last coastal wetlands on the Atlantic.
The Timucuan visitor center is located at Fort Caroline National Memorial and hosts the exhibit “Where the Waters Meet”, Open daily: 9-5.
Another “don’t miss” site is the Kingsley Plantation that provides a look at plantation life in the 1800’s, Open daily: 9-5.
Lunch today is at Bistro Aix – L: M-F, D: Nightly, 1440 San Marco Blvd, Jacksonville, 904-398-1949
You can’t resist the crispy calamari with the red pepper feta sauce or the sesame tuna tartar with chilis, cabbage, scallions and wonton crackers. They have wonderful salads, a quiche du jour and the proverbial pizza selection.
We like the traditional bistro choices of steak/frites or mussel/frites, decadent but delicious.
Your wine is the ’08 “Laguna Ranch Vineyard” Chardonnay. Top it off with the warm Belgium chocolate cake.
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens – Daily: 9-5, 370 Jacksonville Zoo Train, Jacksonville, 904-757-4463 vision is, “to inspire discovery and appreciation of the Earth’s wildlife through innovative experiences in a caring environment.”
In addition to the 2000 animals there are hundreds of bird species that include the wood stork, black crowned night heron, green heron, blue-winged and green-winged teal. (tip to birders: get to the parking lot an hour or two before the Zoo opens.)
You’ll enjoy the beautiful gardens and the view of the Trout River.
Dinner is an event at Matthew’s Restaurant – D: M-Sa, 2107 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, 904-396-9922
Our cousin suggests the escargot with roasted garlic-spinach and shiitake in a prosciutto cream emulsion or the veal and short rib meatball in a shaved pecorino-black pepper marinara for openers.
A glass of the ’09 Conumdrum will work.
Then the veal scaloppini with pine nut pesto-black pepper fettuccini and sweet onions or the halibut with morels, fava beans and a sweet corn dill broth.
Go for the ’07 Peju Merlot. Dessert is the baked Meyer lemon soufflé with raspberry anglaise.
Day Three: Breakfast is at the The Blue Hen Cafe – B & L: Tu-Su, 117 King St, St Augustine, 904-217-3777
Your menu options include: a large burrito, Blue Crab quiche, chicken biscuits, fried green tomato tacos and maybe a side of rice, black beans, black eyed peas, diced tomatoes and onions. We’re pretty sure this is a good start to our day.
For a fun start to your day do the Saint Augustine Pirates & Treasure Museum – Daily 9-8, 12 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, 877-467-5863
The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is the ultimate pirate adventure. Here you’ll experience an interactive journey through 300 years of high seas adventure and a collection of rare pirate artifacts.
The Lightner Museum – Daily: 9-5, 75 King St, St Augustine, 904-824-2874 is your next stop.
Relics of America’s Gilded Age are elegantly exhibited on the museum’s three floors. Costumes, furnishings, mechanical musical instruments and other artifacts give you a glimpse into 19th century daily life.
The Lightner collection includes beautiful examples of cut glass, Victorian art glass and the stained glass work of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The name for this place is all you need to know, South Beach Grill – L & D: Daily, 45 Cubbedge Rd, St Augustine, 904-471-8700
The Grill has PDG platter dining with a water view. For instance, the fried shrimp platter comes with fries, cole slaw and corn bread. The crab cakes have a remoulade sauce.
The fish sandwich – fries and a salad. The burgers and sandwiches include lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and fries. It’s all good!
The bar has good beers. The wine list has vintners that include: K.J., J. Lohr, Kenwood, Guenoc and Cline, so we’re ok. Dee likes their mojitos.
The margaritas are on the rocks or frozen. Dessert could be the key lime pie or the root beer float.
Next visit The Castillo de San Marcos – Daily: 8:45-5:15, 1 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, 904-829-6506
The Monument site consists of 20.5 acres and includes a reconstructed section of the walled defense line surrounding the city of St. Augustine. It is the oldest masonry and only 17th century fort in North America.
It was designated as a National Monument by President Calvin Coolidge on October 15, 1924. The fort offers an interesting historical perspective and great views.
Its cousin Ted again with a cold tip on The Hyppo – Daily: 11-9, 48 Charlotte St, for popsicles, especially popsicles dipped in chocolate.
Golfer or not you’ll enjoy a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame – M-Sa: 10-6, Su: 12-6, One World Golf Place St, St. Augustine, 904-940-4000
Much like the 19th hole we enjoyed the story telling and also the memorabilia and videos.
We all go to really good restaurants, so get ready, Collage is one of them – D: Nightly, 60 Hypolita St, St Augustine, 904-829-0055
Your appetizer choice is the Gambas Al Ajillo,that means shrimp sautéed in spicy garlic and red pepper served with a sherry sauce or the baked brie for two in phylo pastry with caramelized onion and apple chutney.
Spring for a peach bellini with one of these.
For us if it’s Florida that means fish and seafood, and that makes our choices a lot easier. The black grouper is lightly coated with parmesan, pecan, brown sugar then baked and served with a beurre blanc sauce.
The mixed grill contains Maine lobster, shrimp, scallops and catch of the day in a roasted poblano, tomatillo in a chardonnay sauce.
The ’10 Heitz Chardonnay is perfect.
Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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