My husband had the week before Christmas off and we decided to travel to Florida. This would be our first vacation with our son Bryson, who was 5 months old at the time. Our expectations were low and our plans were extremely flexible.
The day we left didn’t go as smoothly as planned and our trip was pushed back a few hours. We arrived in Jacksonville at about 10pm. We checked into our downtown Jacksonville hotel, with plans to leave first thing in the am. Our final destination would be Orlando, but we were open to new adventures along the way. When we woke up the next morning, we went over our options for the day. We decided to go to the Jacksonville Zoo and then stop by a beach for sunset.
We packed up our car and drove towards the parking deck exit. Right before we went through the exit, I noticed a walkway to the river. We pulled over and decided to go on a quick walk along the river.
We ended up walking to a nearby casual restaurant, called The Southern Grill, for breakfast. We then finally set off for the Zoo!
We arrived at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, with our little one fast asleep. We went to the bird exhibit first, which in hindsight I don’t think we were supposed to bring the stroller into. I later noticed that most of the enclosed areas had a no stroller sign.
There was a train that ran through part of the zoo, but we decided to walk through. We stopped by a stingray viewing/feeding area, which had four different types of stingrays.
We walked on to see lions and giraffes, kept separate of course. In the giraffe enclosure, you were able to pay a few dollars to feed the giraffes. It was really cool to be so close to them.
One of my favorite areas was the Bonobo exhibit. They were so laidback and you could see the family dynamic.
After this we took a break at the outdoor cafe area. My husband bought a snack, while I sat and nursed our little one. There was a bathroom nearby so I gave Bryson a diaper/ outfit change, and we went back on our way. The next thing we saw was beautiful pink flamingos.
After the flamingos, we reached an area with really pretty river views. I read that there was once a ferry going from downtown to the zoo, but then the zoo’s dock was damaged by a Hurricane. I bet arriving by ferry made the experience even more fun! I hope they are able to start that again someday.
There was man recording the tiger above, while it paced back in forth in front of him. It was cool to be up so close, but I think the tiger desperately wanted to make us dinner.
I think we spent close to three hours at the zoo and there was a lot of walking. On our way out, I realized we missed the exhibit with elephants and antelopes. I was so worn out by then, but we had to see it. You can tell I was tired, because I didn’t even stop to take pictures!
The Jacksonville zoo was a pleasant surprise. There was so much to see and to do. Can’t wait to bring Bryson back when he’s older, and he can appreciate it too. Our trip was off to a great start!