Try exploring Jacksonville. It may surprise you. At Jacksonville Zoo (www jaxzoo.org), to keep cool during the day, children (and parents) can frolic in the 4,000-foot splash park with water-spouting manatee, manta ray and sea turtle statues.
At Jacksonville’s Museum of Science & History (www.themosh,org), the museum’s array of dinosaurs, native creatures and historical exhibits will be joined by Insect Giants, a temporary summer showing of robotic bugs that are up to 120 times larger than life. Stop by the Jacksonville Maritime Museum
(wwwjaxmaritimemuseum.org), with artifacts and models spanning centuries of the city’s sailing and boating history. The museum is next to the Friendship Park fountain on the south bank of the St. Johns River. For a family-friendly alternative to an evening at The Landing, stroll the Southbank Riverwalk, when the cityscape lights up and the fountain is illuminated by 265 colored lights. (To cross the river, take a river taxi or the JTA Skyway, a monorail that zooms riders across the river for 35 cents each way.)
On Jacksonville’s beaches, the two-block Sea Walk Pavilion overlooking the ocean w01 be hopping this summer with an al fresco film series. Each month also features a jazz concert in the “Smooth Sounds of Hot Summer Nights” series.