12/2/2023 0 Comments
Hey Holiday Dreamers!!
A very Happy Thanksgiving to you all - and now, onto the Christmas Holiday season! Thanks for joining me as I watch the start of the annual Tony’s Turkey Trot for Brain Injury Awareness in Atlantic Beach, Florida!
Just from the looks of this - I have never seen a bigger turnout for this race - what a FABULOUSLY successful run this morning y’all. I believe there were over 4,100 people participating in the race this year! So many people registered this year they actually had to close registration! Way to go everybody!
We went for a lovely Thanksgiving Morning walk in the surrounding neighborhoods of Beaches Town Center, which includes both Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach. Then, we enjoyed a lovely outdoor breakfast and coffee at Southern Grounds Coffee Co. in Neptune Beach, as we watched the morning further gear up in preparation for the annual Petesgiving 2023 at Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach. If you're going to Pete’s - keep in mind they start serving at 8:30am.
Then we went for another walk out on the beach and I did a LIVESTREAM, which you can check out right here:
Here’s wishing you and yours a very merry and festive Holiday Season. Now -enjoy the start!
The 9th Annual Tony’s Turkey Trot 5K for Brain Injury Awareness takes place each year on Thanksgiving Morning in Beaches Town Center - Where Atlantic Boulevard Meets The Ocean.
The race is located at:
1 Ocean Boulevard
Atlantic Beach, Florida 32233
Further information about Tony’s Turkey Trot can be found at:
Petesgiving takes place annually at Pete’s Bar on Thanksgiving Morning. Pete’s Bar is located at:
117 First Street
Neptune Beach, Florida 32266
Further information about Pete’s Bar can be found on their website at:
Also - check out this adorable story about Petesgiving:
This was filmed on Thanksgiving Morning 2023 in Atlantic Beach, Florida - Thursday, November 23, 2023.
#tonysturkeytrot #atlanticbeach #thanksgiving
Mezza Luna Ristorante - Dining Review
“So… How old are you now?” I asked the hubby, as we sat down to dinner.
We had just been seated at our lovely outdoor table at Mezza Luna Ristorante - for a special Saturday night - a birthday celebration - dinner out.
“29,” he says.
“No, really?” I question him.
“35,” he then says.
“No... I seriously don’t know,” I say. Now resorting to begging for his age. “I literally do not remember your age, and I only remember that I am 40 because I am, right now, at this moment, the big four o.”
“35,” he says, again. “And I’m not getting any older.” That’s it. It’s been authoritatively decided. Discussion over.
Well - I simply knew that wasn’t true. But we proceeded to dine upon some fabulous food, all the time with me not knowing the real number. The age for which we were celebrating this fine night.
Because, you see, I don’t really know if it's a “covid thing” or what, but time is just flying by.
One breath, and a day has passed.
One blink, and a whole week flutters past us.
One sip of water, and a whole month is swallowed up whole.
In fact, by the time we finish eating this very meal, we will be 65 years old.
And the pandemic itself - well that flew by too. I tend to think it’s all because I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, and not because of a global plague that seemingly altered time itself. But, who knows?
Either way, I can barely remember my own age, let alone the age and/or birthdates of anybody else I know and love, including my own husband - and maybe that is not a covid thing? I think I’m just really, really bad at ages... and birthdays... and numbers.
I guess I always have been. But the older I get, it apparently shows more now… As I sit across from the hubby, proceeding to ask my own husband for his age on his own birthday during this very special night out.
Our server comes over. We start with water for both.
Gulp, and another month disappears. Hooray!
I then ask for lemonade, and Bryan requests an old fashioned.
By the time our meal was perfectly prepared, cooked, seasoned, and served to us, we were flying well into the year 2022. But that all hasn’t happened just yet.
Eventually, we settled on 43 (???) Our take on his real age this evening. On this beautiful day in the month of May, in this grand and fabulous year of life on Earth: 2021.
“Are you sure?” I ask. Doubting even the truth, simply because I have no idea or grasp on reality any longer… Ages and time blown apart. The Earth, to me, might as well be spinning around the sun at a rate of 365 rotations an hour instead of 365 rotations a year. No concept of time any longer, not even a smidge, even left in my brain at this point in my life. And that, I finally have come to believe, has something to do with Covid.
And maybe that’s all simply because, when people are asked to stop living their lives - living - becomes increasingly more important. In my head, that is.
It’s a beautiful evening at the beach. We are seated on the outdoor patio of Mezza. Located at 110 First Street in the Beaches Town Center area of Neptune Beach, this local Floridian establishment has always seemed upscale and expensive in my mind, and seemingly a bit out of reach for an everyday occasion. But for birthdays, anything goes, right? So, while I expected quite an expensive dining experience, Mezza Luna ended up being nothing like what I thought and perceived it to be - In a good way. It wasn’t nearly as pricey as I was predicting, and it was a much more casual atmosphere as well - also, in a very good way.
With today’s hits playing loudly on the stereo speakers, intermixed with some oldies and goodies, the vibe was upbeat, happy, and not at all stuffy or too fancy. Our entire dining experience ended up being an absolutely and utterly perfect atmosphere for the type of dinner we were going for that evening.
It’s now May. So at dinnertime - the sun - it’s still out. And, gosh, it was a hot one. There were seats on the back patio - straight in the sun - and I knew we could never last out there. Not even five minutes. I would have easily melted away. I had just finished a shift working outside in the heat all day, and sitting straight in the hot sun was never, ever going to happen that night.
But the whole front end of the restaurant has another outdoor area that is completely covered in shade. It’s actually set up really, very quaint. You’re “inside” the restaurant, with the feel and coziness of being inside and away from the elements, but the front wall is open to the outdoors and fresh air. So we were technically seated outside - per my request placed on my OpenTable dining reservation app. Also, the mask mandate in the local Jacksonville area had just been recently lifted, so for those looking to enter without a mask, no mask was needed. Every single staff member of the restaurant still had masks on though.
If you don’t have OpenTable, and you enjoy dining out, I highly recommend it. The process of booking takes a mere few seconds, it’s free, and it’s easier than a phone call. Plus - all your reservations add up to monetary rewards. I’m a big fan.
Our drinks arrived, and ice cold lemonade never tasted so good. I downed my drink, and another was brought immediately over to me.
We then ordered the meatball appetizer to split, and Bryan ordered a wedge blue cheese salad as well.
The meatballs were seasoned wonderfully, with a creamy sauce of something or other underneath. I didn’t really bother to look at the menu, I really just devoured it as quickly as I did my lemonade; noting later - however, that it was served with creamy polenta, tomato, mint, and piave cheese at $11.00.
And Bryan’s iceberg salad was served with crispy shallots, bacon, sun dried tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing, at $9.00.
Our server asked if we wanted fresh bread, and of course, because we are merely human, we said - Yes.
Dinner was fabulous. And I couldn't remember the last time I had such a marvelous meal, seated that close to the ocean, and so close to home.
We both ordered steaks for the main course. I had the filet (at $35.00), my usual go to, and Bryan had the grilled flat iron steak frites (at $27.00), any steak - his guaranteed usual.
The bordelaise sauce drizzled over my filet was superb. And I immediately commented to Bryan… “How come we can’t replicate this at home?” I kept eating and I don’t remember what we decided our answer to that deep question was.
Being that it was Bryan’s birthday, dessert was a must. So, we ordered two, of course. And that way we could each try each other’s and share.
I loved the affogato. To death. I would go back to Mezza just to order it once again. At $6.00 it was worth every penny, and a cool treat on this hot night.
And, then there was the cheesecake. Oh, is there anything so good in all this miraculous world as a slice of cheesecake?
Well, maybe the next best thing is taking the leftovers home. At $8.00, and heaven on Earth, I asked for the seasonal sauce to be left off. I just wanted the slice served plain. And as we were too stuffed to eat anymore, I asked for my remaining cheesecake to be boxed up. To be feasted upon later that evening back home of course…. And therein lies the only ‘problem’ of the magnificent evening. And I dare say it was really even a problem. I actually just asked for a box…
Meaning, I would box up the cheesecake myself. But, the server wanted to bring the dish back to the kitchen and box it up. And that’s when I realized he did the same with my steak.
This was the very first time since covid began, that a server wanted to take my meal away from me, that I had already touched, and bring it back into the kitchen. That act seemed to go away, nearly one hundred percent of the time, since the beginning of the pandemic.
As soon as the plague began, everything and anything was all about contact. Touch points were focused upon. And the less touching the better. Along with cross contamination, and risk of cross contamination. So, I naturally thought it was swell when seemingly every single restaurant started bringing the box out to the table, instead of taking the touched plate back into the kitchen to box up there, thus risking more germ spread back onto everyone’s food unnecessarily.
So, I did think it very, very strange that the server wanted to take my slice of cheesecake, that I had already feasted upon, and bring it back into the kitchen to box up. I didn’t say anything, but I did ponder this, deeply.
And as I pondered, my cheesecake was making its untimely transition.
When my lovely piece of food was brought back out to me... it looked like this:
A fine meal. A lovely evening. Everything - perfection. Down to the sights and sounds.
And then - sad face. :(
Or, should I say smoosh face.
My cheesecake went through the ringer back in the kitchen. My cheesecake died a slow death. It transformed from a slice of cake... To cheese mush inside a plastic see through box. Sealed for transport into space. Or somewhere else very far away.
But who am I kidding?! I did not really care one bit. As we learned growing up, it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s inside that really important.
It’s not the gift that matters, it's the thought that counts.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Contents may have shifted during transport.
Wait - none of that is what I was going for here.
Anyway, I could care freaking less what my cheesecake looked like as I carried it out the door. And yes, it got eaten less than two hours later in less than two seconds flat. Presentation be forgotten that night, my dear friends. No, I did not care what it looked like on the outside. I didn’t care. It all certainly did not really matter to me.
Because, if I’m so busy loving my life, so very freaking much, to the point that I cannot remember how old I am, or how old my husband really is, because life is too much fun to stop and think about it. Then I certainly could care less about the doggie bag presentation at a fine dining establishment with today’s hits blasting on the radio overhead as we freely inhaled the salt life.
All I cared about was the birthday that was being celebrated. And the fun time we were having. And the very fresh and very salty air that we were breathing in on that beautiful patio. As we watched tourists and locals pass by on the adjacent sidewalk. And we ate our fresh bread, and slapped on way too much butter.
And scooping up whatever that creamy mush was underneath our meatball appetizer, while enjoying a steak that I could never replicate in my own kitchen. And bringing home with me a cheesy slice of heaven. It all didn’t matter what it looked like. And how it was presented to me. And as I pondered the state of my flattened and battered and weathered and worn and completely beat up cheesecake seated in front of me, sealed tightly for transport across great oceans on a big container ship for a long haul journey… I decided to ask my husband, once again.
I stared at my smooshed cake. And I pondered the physics of time and space once again. “44?” I questioned him.
Desperately aching to know and confirm his real age, yet again. And too lazy to pull out my calculator to simply subtract 2021 from his year of birth, to find the correct number in a matter of seconds.
“NO!” he desperately bellowed back at me. “I am NOT 44 today.”
So we settled, once again, on 43.
He was 43 years old. And yes, I am 40.
We had that confirmed. Leaving no room for doubt.
And so we continued our evening. And we both knew each other’s real ages. At least for that one night. Until I proceeded to forget it all once again. When the day transitioned from Saturday to Sunday and I didn’t even know what universe I was living in, once again.
So, yeah, we knew we were in our forties. We knew we loved our steak dinner. And we certainly knew covid was in the rear view mirror. And life kept moving on. But, the funny thing is, life never really stopped. That’s the amazing thing. Covid never stopped our lives. As we celebrated the transition from 42 to 43… life was still happening. And life would continue to go on. Whether we knew our ages at the time or not. Under a mezza luna moon… life was continuing to happen all around us.~
**Bean’s Battle For Best @ The Beaches ~ Award Winner 2020!**
It’s a hard job - but somebody’s gotta eat all the chocolate. And for the sake of the written word - that’s exactly what I’ve done.
Besides, with hard work, comes great reward… And chocolate may be the ultimate reward, my dear friends.
I’ve been popping into Peterbrooke Chocolatier since I discovered it a few years back.
Located at 363 Atlantic Boulevard in Atlantic Beach, Florida, Peterbrooke is situated directly in the heart of Beaches Town Center. As soon as I discovered Peterbrooke, I absolutely had to go inside.
So I did, and I ate the best chocolate - ever.
Fast forward to today, in 2020, and Peterbrooke STILL has the best chocolate I ever ate. I’m just grateful I live so close to their shop so that I can visit whenever I want.
And recently, with all this stay-at-home madness upending civil society… and with World War 19 causing Civil War 2.0 - chocolate was subtly calling my name. It may have been just a whisper, but it was calling, nonetheless.
Then, with all restaurants still being closed - and take-out, curbside, and delivery being the only way to dine “out” - a chocolatier, to-go sort of shop was out loud screaming my name.
So after work the other day, I decided it was time to take action on the chocolate front of this global war… I’ll call it - Bean’s Battle For Best @ The Beaches.
Either that, or… The Battle Of The Bulge.
Stepping back into this heavenly chocolate shop after a long parting of at least a year or so, I was simply excited that the OPEN sign flashing in the upper right corner window, actually meant that they were really open. Because as more businesses close by the day, that sign doesn’t usually mean much any more.
Walking in, we were met with another sign - the power was out. But, yes, they were open. Come on in.
We were then met with another sign, and a basket of gloves for us to use, per their request. We both put on the gloves.
I knew just what I wanted. Eyes right on my target.
The Jag Paws - the Jax version of Turtles.
And like I said, for the sake of the written word, I simply had to buy a few more things. I couldn’t buy just a bag of Jag Paws, that’s simply not enough chocolate for a girl! So, I figured since I always purchase a darker chocolate, that my other purchases would be in the white chocolate family. I then grabbed a bag of white chocolate covered pretzels, and a white chocolate lollipop.
I spoke with the cashier as we paid. I had just missed Peterbrooke’s biggest holiday of the year: Easter. Because chocolate and bunnies go together perfectly, of course.
I mentioned how glad I was that they were open. She mentioned that they were not even certain how much longer they would be.
I hoped to see them again.
‘Tis the way of today. I suppose.
I would not be telling you the truth if I said there was a better chocolate shop in Jax. They absolutely are the winner. Peterbrooke is more than deserving of Bean’s Battle For Best @ The Beaches - Chocolate - 2020.
The cost is high. And I’m not gonna lie about that either. But there’s a reason. You just can’t buy the best chocolate of your life and not pay the most you’ve ever spent on chocolate.
So, while $27.02 looks high, sounds high, and is - very - high, it was all worth it, my dear friends. And if you go, you’ll probably agree. You’ll take one bite of the best of the best, and the next thought out of your brain will be - When are we coming back for more?
As we said goodbye, we sat in the little blue chairs and table set up outside the front door, for a mere moment. Our last stop and duty before heading home for the night.
It was Saturday night at the beach. The traditional “Opening Of The Beaches” Weekend in Jacksonville. A yearly celebration, a weekend parade - a tradition in town going back 73 years.
Even though normally, the beaches are open year round here in Jax, the town comes together each spring to officiate a ceremonial opening of the beaches. Think - Gilmore Girls - town square style event - only a bit more wild. And more ceremonial in nature than anything else, the Beaches opening parade is as much of a party here in Jax as Pete’s Bar is on Thanksgiving morning. Just another reason to party. To celebrate life. Life at the beach. On an island. Living next to the sea.
And 2020 would have been year 74 of the parade - before it was canceled due to the coronavirus.
Yes, we were sitting outside, and it was Saturday night at the beach. 2020.
Hubby picking me up from work. Off early on a Saturday. The sun still out. A normal Saturday night in town would have meant the entire area would be hopping. Endless parties. Endless fun. Bike riders everywhere. Music. Talking. Laughter.
But instead, we sat down in front of the chocolatier, and stared at a visibly and noticeably vacant parking lot. A lot that is usually never empty. Diners from Poe’s. From other restaurants. Shops. And on a Saturday, the lot would be even more packed. Cars waiting for spots to open up.
But not on this Saturday night. Empty. Looking around. Soaking in the quiet surroundings.
It was just sooo sad.
When will Poe’s open back up? When will the other restaurants open for dine in? Shops? When will people not be scared to leave their houses? When will life return to this little corner of Beaches Town Center?
I don’t know. And I do care.
In the interim, however, there is always chocolate.
And the world still keeps on turning. And awards still must be handed out.
So, plague or no plague… civil war or no civil war, life as we know it, or life as we know it not, the chocolate must be eaten.
And Peterbrooke Chocolatier is hereby officially awarded Bean’s Battle For Best @ The Beaches 2020.
Congratulations, my dear and chocolatey friends. You’ve won The Battle Of The Bulge.
Thank you for the sunshine you add to the sky.
In a vast sea - of open parking spots… Thank you for being open.
Thank you for still fighting to survive, and sticking it out this long.
And mostly, thank you for the best chocolate I ever feasted upon. ~
*Have you been to Peterbrooke Chocolatier? Where did you eat the best chocolate you ever had? I’d so love to know. Drop me a comment down below:
Also, for Bean’s Best Award Winner of 2019, be sure to check out V Pizza, below:
15] V Pizza ~ The Very Best Pizza In Jax Beach!
Plus - for some further fun in the Florida sun, and lots of sweet treats in Jax and beyond, check out the links below:
52] Keeping Cool - And Creamy - In Key West
45] Dessert First, My Friends ~ Cantina Louie
40] Visiting The Florida Cracker Kitchen ~ Jacksonville
39] The Very Official & Quite Serious Donut Debate Of 2020
31] Tuesday’s On First Street ~ The Jax Beach Art Walk ~
21] Cinotti’s ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
14] Finding Trinkets & Treasures @ The Jax Beach Vintage Flea Market
11] Eleven South Bistro & Bar ~~ Supper Club Of The South
3] The Dog Days Of Endless Summer
2] 3 Wows Plus 1 Piece Of Magic I Experienced At Jacksonville, Florida’s Cummer Museum Of Art & Gardens
1] Happy Birthday America ~ 4 Simple Steps To Help You Have An Easy Americana 4th:
Two words to sum up this total and complete gem of a place: Go. There.
I personally have zero bad things to say about this place - ever. It’s fabulous. End of story.
Well, not end of story. But it can be that simple. Hawkers is - simply - amazing.
Hawkers was born in Florida. In 2011 their first restaurant opened in Orlando. And since its early successes, this sit-down, yet casual, eatery has now spread to a variety of other locations throughout the state. Plus a few openings in other locales within the country as well, such as North Carolina and Georgia, with both a Tennessee and Maryland location opening very soon.
And while any night of the week is a good night indeed to visit Hawkers, I had the pleasure of dining there most recently on the same evening my husband and I browsed all around Beaches Town Center to take in all the holiday goodness out on display. Walking around town, seeing the gingerbread house at One Ocean Resort, visiting the Holiday Palms where Atlantic Boulevard meets the ocean, all of it, after a delicious meal at Hawkers.
Walking inside Hawkers, I always immediately take notice of the Edison style lighting throughout the large dining room and bar area. I absolutely adore any Edison lighting whatsoever, and I desperately dream of it placed throughout every room in my entire apartment. To me, the lighting gives off a warm and very inviting and homey atmosphere. Not too bright, and perfect for an evening dining establishment.
And while the restaurant is a sit-down eatery, and a great place for a leisurely and peaceful meal, it never feels too formal either.
The menu at Hawkers is set up similar to tapas style. Smaller sized dishes that are meant for sharing around the table. And this works exceptionally well the larger the party one has with them. While it’s usually just my husband and I dining out, we had the opportunity to dine at Hawkers with my in-laws well over a year and a half ago now. And at that meal having a party of eight, we were able to try and share amongst us a large variety of dishes from the menu. Much more choice than our usual table for two can reasonable order.
While sometimes hubby and I do tapas and share a few things, this time I simply ordered my own entree and so did he. And I had no problem devouring my entire bowl.
To drink I had club soda with lime, which they kindly kept refilling for me. And hubby had the ‘Margari-Thai’ to start. The drinks were swell. Not watered down at all, and made just right.
We split the pork skewers as an appetizer, which comes as a set of three skewers. They were delicious. Flavorful, and yet not too over-seasoned. And the perfect amount for sharing amongst two people. Just. Perfect.
For my entree, I ordered the same dish the I ALWAYS order. The Beef Haw Fun. A noodle dish. It’s a fabulous dish for anyone who is currently counting calories or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. At 687 calories, it’s the perfect size entree for me. Anything else would have been simply too many calories, or needing a box for leftovers.
Hubby ordered from the rice bowl section of the menu - choosing the Kimchi Fried Rice. Served with steak, eggs, and onions. Both our dishes were excellent.
The atmosphere at Hawkers is very casual. Which is another reason I love it so much. It’s loud, but it’s not too loud by any means - it’s good loud. It’s family friendly, birthday-dinner-outing-loud, and kid-friendly loud. And the large indoor dining room and combined bar area are set up very open and easy-flowing, with lots of large windows letting in all that fabulous natural sunlight during the day. And with views out to Atlantic Boulevard into both Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach during the evenings, it’s a lovely location for dinner out right on the coast. Plus, when the weather is right the windows and doors are open so that you feel you are eating outside, even if you’re dining inside.
And if you do want to eat directly outside, you can do just that as well. Hawkers offers two different areas of outdoor seating. There’s an absolutely beautiful little courtyard area, tucked away from all the hustle and bustle of Atlantic Boulevard, and nestled between the Surf Shop next door. The other outdoor seating is set directly in front of the restaurant on the sidewalk area, and is a great vantage point for lots of people-watching as you dine. This time of year they also have heat lamps out on the patios, so it’s almost never really too cold to dine outside at Hawkers.
The other great thing I love about Hawkers is the menu selection. Besides tapas style dishes, they also have a variety of dishes for both vegans and vegetarians. When I try to eat vegan, this place makes it super easy for me. I order the Edamame, and/or the Spring Rolls.
And I’ve saved the best for last… even though it’s traditionally served first. The Roti Canai... I can’t even express to you how good the Roti Canai really is. The Roti Canai is on the appetizer portion of the menu - it’s a Malaysian flatbread, and is a savory break-apart-piece of heaven, a type of hot bread. Calling all dough lovers. This is the dough for you. What a treat.
And it is just that, a treat. Which is why we didn’t get it on this particular visit... But I can’t talk about Hawkers without talking about the Roti Canai. It’s a must-do, a must-try. Especially on your first visit. One bite, and you’ll be in love with Hawkers and want to come back whenever you can. On our first visit, when we were very unfamiliar with Hawkers and the menu offerings, our server recommended this dish. I’m so glad she did, because we’ve been ordering it ever since and every time it is pure perfection on a plate.
The reason we don’t order the Roti Canai all the time though is that I know for a fact this dish is a calorie-counting nightmare. Well, maybe not a nightmare, I just know it has too many calories for my tummy to process all at once. With one small piece clocking in at roughly 318 calories, that’s about half a dinner for me. All in a single slice of bread. And I’d personally rather spend my calories on protein - and anything that will keep me fuller, longer. And thus I treat this bread as the deserving treat that it is. It’s just such a TREAT that we don’t need to get it every time. So even though it’s my very favorite item on the entire menu, I resist all temptation and I don't order it every visit. But every time we do get it, it's absolutely divine.
I do highly recommend trying the Roti Canai. If you are looking for something a little bit different, a little bit out of the norm when eating the standard American diet every day. This is THE dish to try. The curry dips that are served alongside it gives one a sampling of some flavors that I personally don’t have all the time. And I love trying different things. So get the bread. You won’t be sorry.
And one more quick piece of good news at Hawkers - they have a new menu item that I am VERY excited to try on my next visit. On that next visit I can then plan the needed and many allotted calories into my day so that I can try this dish with zero guilt. It’s a dessert…. And yes, it’s DONUTS! Yummm. They sound fantastic. And fried. The Jo-He Bag of Donuts. Next Time, My Friends, Next Time.
I’m fairly certain there will be a photo of fried donuts showing up on my Instagram sometime in the near future.
Overall, Hawkers is super. Simple as that. If you have a Hawkers by you, definitely give it a try. And if you don’t have a Hawkers by you, maybe, and hopefully, one will be on its way to you soon. ~
While I both love and live in Jacksonville Beach, FL, there’s only one other town around I love just as very much…well, two towns actually - it’s where Atlantic Boulevard meets the ocean - it’s Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach… its Beaches Town Center.
Beaches Town Center is all-encompassing of the downtown areas of both Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach. The two downtowns meet together for one, central, and grand downtown area on the Beaches - with Atlantic Beach to the north, and Neptune Beach to the south - and Atlantic Boulevard as the border line. It is there that the two towns touch and meet, becoming one. If you weren’t familiar with the area, you wouldn’t really even know that they are two separate towns. They really blend well aesthetically and flow and function nicely as one downton. And while the two towns share this single and lovely downtown, they share a whole lot more as well… including Christmas!
Beaches Town Center comes together for one official Christmas tree area at the center of town, and just steps off the beach. Where Atlantic Boulevard ends and the ocean begins. At the roundabout. The trees - including evergreen, and palm, of course - are lit up beautifully. Signature candy cane stripes going up the trunks of the palms, with green tip lit leaves. And this year they added another evergreen to the display, having two total, one on each side of the palms. With a large red seating area, positioned perfectly for Santa Claus to sit, there is never a dull moment in the round-a-bout. With children and families both coming up to get their photo taken sitting in the enormous chair. Sometimes even a line of people waiting.
And with the palm trees lit all up and down the sidewalks on 1st Street and beyond, in a rainbow of holiday colors, the setting is a beautiful, beachy holiday, instantly.
If you find yourself in town, and checking out all things holiday while you’re here, there’s a few other not to be missed seasonal and very festive events which I highly recommend. Check out the St. Augustine Nights of Lights if you have time for a short drive. And be sure to visit Deck The Chairs, just one town south, in my very own Jax Beach. Deck The Chairs is free, it’s walk-through, and open to the public nightly through the end of the month. And only a couple miles south of Beaches Town Center, it’s a quick hop on over if you are out exploring all the lights and all the beautiful sights around Jacksonville.
Our first Christmas living in Florida, back in 2017, we were browsing around Beaches Town Center. It was wonderful - we knew it would become an instant new tradition added to our list of holiday festivities. And while strolling through town that first Floridian holiday, we came upon One Ocean at the center of town, and decided we needed to check it out.
We walked into their grand lobby, for the first time. Fountain in the center, just inside the door. Well, the inside is just gorgeous. And it turns out that every year, for Christmas and the entire holiday season, they put a large gingerbread house on display just off to the side in the lobby area. Naturally stumbling onto this find was so exciting. And it’s those finds, that I didn’t know about in advance of a visit somewhere, completely unplanned, and spur-of-the-moment, that are sometimes the very best moments. And we’ve been back every year.
I’ve included photos of this year’s 2019 gingerbread house. And let me tell you, that lobby smelled of gingerbread - and smelled of heaven. It was fabulous to see, and to breathe in. It’s a quick stop in to check out, and puts one in the holiday spirit right away. The baked house is different every year, and all of it - the sign - the house itself, and all the details presented, reminded me immediately of my many travels to Walt Disney World at Christmastime and doing some Resort Hopping...checking out all the resort lobby gingerbread houses - each themed to that specific Disney resort. So I definitely recommend stopping in One Ocean on your Beaches Town Center holiday adventure. They’ve got a bar and restaurant on site too - it’s on the pricey side so we haven’t been there to eat just yet, but we have been to the lounge a few times and it’s just lovely. The ocean views are priceless.
And a visit to Beaches Town Center is never, ever complete without a visit to Southern Grounds Coffee Shop. I love coffee almost as much as life itself. So we strolled on down to Southern Grounds to get a hot drink on a cool Florida evening. but to our surprise it was the one night ever that I’ve come across them closed. Usually open until 9pm, we went on a Monday night, and there was a sign on the door apologizing for the closure. They were out celebrating for the staff holiday party. No, I’m not complaining… the fact that we were so very sad that they were closed is only a compliment to them - as their shop simply rocks. So no Southern Grounds for us that particular evening, but soooo very glad for their employees that they had a night out away from work to celebrate.
Beaches Town Center knows how to throw a Beachy Christmas… On a Monday night, or any night of the week. I’d highly recommend stopping by for a visit, short or long. Coffee or no coffee. It’s a wonderful sight, with a lot of wonderful lights. ~
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