Jacksonville with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

by Megan Champion, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Sep 15th 2010 01:44 PM

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Taking a family vacation in Jacksonville with teens can be a fun and exciting experience, but entertaining your kids can also be a daunting task. The day will fly by with this itinerary, which is sure to leave even the hardest-to-please teens with a smile.

Morning

Start your family vacation in Jacksonville with breakfast at a hip diner that serves an array of options for all tastes: Metro Diner (3302 Hendricks Avenue, Jacksonville, 904-398-3701). A "Yo-Hala" is enough for two hungry teens to share: bananas sautéed in Frangelico and stuffed into a thick slice of challah bread, served up French-toast style. It's huge and guaranteed to get a thumbs-up. For the parents, the crab cake benedict puts a delicious spin on an old breakfast favorite.

Metro Diner is open daily 7AM-2:30PM so you can get going on your family vacation in Jacksonville early.

Head toward Fort George Island (12157 Heckscher Drive, State Road A1A, South Jacksonville, 904-251-2320) for a nature trail that promises to have the kids engaged. EcoMotion Tours (11255 Fort George Road, Jacksonville, 904-251-9477) offer the perfect way to get a lazy teen outdoors: a two-hour Segway tour that takes you on a guided loop around the historic island. It's sure to be a highlight of your family vacation in Jacksonville. Your teens will love driving themselves around on these upright scooters, equipped with wireless headsets and led by a knowledgeable guide.

You will ride past ancient dunes and maneuver up and down roller coaster hills until you reach the Kingsley Plantation (11676 Palmetto Avenue), the oldest surviving plantation in Florida. It has one of the most complete complexes of slave cabins still standing, and most of the buildings and structures on the tour are open for you to walk through between the hours of 9AM and 5PM. The rich history and nature will breeze by before your teens realize they are learning something.

Fort George Island is open daily from 8AM-sundown, and EcoMotion morning tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday starting at 10AM.

Afternoon

Head over to Singleton's Seafood Shack (4728 Ocean Street, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville, 904-246-4442) for fresh catch served right on the river. Featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,Ó this authentically rustic fish camp serves meals on styrofoam plates with a roll of paper towels within arm's reach. Singleton's is known for having the best shrimp in Jacksonville -- it comes fresh from the boat and is a treat blackened, grilled or fried. The spicy Minorcan clam chowder, featured on the Food Network program, will be a winner with teens.

Singleton's is open Sunday through Thursday 10AM-9PM and until 10PM on Friday and Saturday.

No family vacation in Jacksonville with teens would be complete without seeing the miles of pristine beaches and boardwalks off Florida's famous A1A coastal road. So take a stroll along the water's edge Ð you can walk for as long as you legs can carry you in the afternoon sea breeze. Don't forget to bring along a tote, as you're sure to find seashells of every shape and size along the white-sand beaches.

Stop by the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier (503 North 1st Street, Jacksonville Beach, 904-241-1515) and take a walk out into the ocean. It's a great place to get a local to snap a shot of your Jacksonville family vacation with the shoreline as your backdrop. There are plenty of unique places to shop along 1st Street and you will find it easy to get around and see everything. The pier is open daily 6AM-10pm.

Teens will be begging for a break by now, so stop in at the Sun Dog (207 Atlantic Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville, 904-241-8221). You can sneak in a locally brewed Bold City beer while you listen to live reggae music, and teens will be drawn to the crowd of kids around the arcade games, where they might make some new friends. This is a local hotspot and always has something new going on. The beach area is quite safe, so you will feel confident letting the teens walk around to poke in some of the surf shops there before they head back to meet you at the Sun Dog. It's open Monday to Saturday 11AM-2AM, and 10AM-2AM on Sundays.

Evening

The great thing about a family vacation in Jacksonville with teens is that there are plenty of safe, fun things to do and restaurants in which to eat. One of the best is the Casbah Café (3628 Saint Johns Avenue, 904-981-9966), open Monday to Saturday 11AM-2AM and Sunday noon-2AM. The inside conjures up the feeling of a Moroccan tent, with billowing crimson and gold fabrics hanging from the ceiling. Outside you will find a music-filled courtyard, complete with fountain and the occasional belly dancer.

No matter where you are seated, you will quickly notice that this is a favorite with both teenagers and parents alike. The kids come for the cool atmosphere; the parents love the authentic food, and everyone agrees it's a fun place to hang out. Order tapas-style and try Mediterranean classics like falafel, stuffed grape leaves, jibneh, hummus, kibbie, and tabouleh. They have an assortment of imported beers, including raspberry or peach Lambic, which is always refreshing in the summer. The service is also fantastic and they don't rush you to leave. It is a spot where many people love to wind down the day.

Dinner at the Casbah Café is the ideal ending to a fun family vacation in Jacksonville with teens. No grumbling either? Perfect.


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