our visit to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

Ever since moving to Florida I've kept a running list of places I would like to visit with the kids. My entire life I've lived in the midwest (aside from my semester in Quito, Ecuador), so I want to take in everything this state has to offer while we live here.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been at the top of our list for awhile, so I was thrilled when I attended a networking event through FlipperSplash and received some tickets to the zoo. We finally found a free weekend to go at the beginning of November, and we were not disappointed!

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Our day started with handmade donuts at Good Dough Donuts. We met up with my friend Emily, who is local to Jacksonville, and the kids didn't waste any time digging in to their confections. It was fairly busy since it was a Saturday morning, but we easily found a spot at a large community table. We smiled at our table neighbors and tried to manage the chaos of our combined 5 children. 

Pippa chose the Molly Ringwald donut (raspberry), simply because it was pink, and Teddy and I split a vanilla bean donut with edible cookie dough. Yes, it was as delicious as it sounds. 

Good Dough Donuts

Next we made our way over to the Riverside Arts Market. It's open every Saturday, and was bursting with art, local food, crafts, and jewelry. Though we spent the entire time reminding our toddlers not to touch the breakables, it was nice to be out in the fresh air, and there was so much to see and buy.


Our last and best stop of the day was the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. We were greeted by a nice long line, and realized that kids were free the entire month of November. The line moved fairly quickly, and before we knew it we were inside and on our way to see the animals! 


One of my favorite things about this zoo is that it's not simply functional, but beautiful as well. Exotic flowers line the pathways, and themed gardens are scattered throughout the zoo. My kids loved the twinkling lights on the trees, and I couldn't help but enjoy our stroll between animal exhibits just as much as I enjoyed the animals themselves. 


Our absolute favorite animal exhibit was the Land of the Tiger. I've never seen anything like the enclosed walkway suspended above visitors' heads. Pippa loved seeing a tiger snoozing away up in a tree! 


With a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old in tow, I'm always looking for kid-friendly spots, so the play park embedded in the center of the zoo was a perfect oasis for moms of little ones. There is a playground, a tiny maze, and even a splash pad (though it was too cold for splashing when we were there). 


We had such a fun day at the Jacksonville Zoo, and can't wait to go back. Maybe I'll even let them ride the train next time