The original item was published from February 24, 2019 11:41 PM to February 27, 2019 12:16 PM
So you've found yourself in Jacksonville for a weekend and want to see the sights. Welcome! Now comes the challenging part: how do you make the most of your time here? Between the food, memorials, nature and other attractions, how does one get the best taste of everything Jacksonville has to offer? We've got you covered. Whether you're doing a solo dive or traveling with family, this weekend itinerary is designed to be an enjoyable mix for people who want a well-rounded experience. It's also packed with great food recommendations! You can thank us later.
U.S. Marine Corps Camp Lejeune is what originally put our city on the map, so exploring the town's history with the armed forces is a great place to start. We officially begin the trip at the Freedom Fountain in downtown Jacksonville, a beautiful endless edge pool with fifty bubblers and three water spires. It's dedicated to those who pass through Onslow County in service to our country.
Stretch your legs with a walk through the Lejeune Memorial Gardens. It offers peaceful winding trails, gorgeous flowers, and inspiring memorials for many pivotal moments in American history. It's as serene as it is inspiring.
After the walk, grab a coffee (or some fresh soups and salads) at Brewed Downtown! It's a weekday-only gathering spot with a menu that updates daily, so Friday afternoon is the perfect chance to go.
After lunch, it's time to visit Walton's Distillery, which blends local traditions of moonshiners and artisans with Kentuckian distillery methods to make truly exciting moonshine. Many of the products are named after family members.
For dinner, you have options. First, you can treat yourself to some fresh seafood at Captain Bob Beck's Marina Cafe, Jacksonville's best-kept secret for over twenty years. Alternatively, if you're traveling with a companion and would like something more romantic, hop on board Bayonet Enterprises Cruise and enjoy a sunset dinner on the water. Bayonet offers a memorable experience on the water you can book for an early morning breakfast or lunch cruise as well -- or you can go out for a few days.
Rise and shine! This morning starts off at either Angie's Family Restaurant or The Kettle Diner, two local favorites known for breakfast. Afterwards, it's straight on to Hammock's Beach State Park. Only a half-hour drive from Jacksonville, it's an opportunity to enjoy scenic, undisturbed, undeveloped shoreline. Bear Island, the area with the best shoreline for sunbathing and playing in the ocean is accessible by ferry. The ferry docks were damaged by Hurricane Florence. This part of the park is scheduled to reopen by July 1st; check the website for updates. Paddle NC also offers kayak tours on the park site, for those who can't get away from the water. If you're up for paddling but don't want to leave the city, take a kayak or paddle board tour at 15 Kerr Street in downtown.
For lunch, look forward to Jeff's Burgers, Dogs & Shakes, known for their hand-cut fries and hand-shaped patties. They also have a signature Paul Parker Sandwich, a favorite of the local radio personality by the same name.
We spend the afternoon at Mike's Farm, which hosts seasonal events throughout the year. The petting zoo and gift shop keep kids of all ages occupied. It serves as a popular spot for weddings and photographers. Their restaurant also serves fried chicken with all the fixin's, if you're craving some old-fashioned country food.
Dinner brings more options: both ethnic and fancy. Liliana's Colombian Restaurant & Bakery is one of the few authentic Colombian restaurants in North Carolina known for their food, fruit drinks, and cakes. Duck's Grille and Bar offers some of the area's best fine dining. Guests appreciate their local-sourcing and excellent presentation.
Start Sunday morning off right at The Milk Road, a veteran-owned specialty coffee roaster known for their liège waffles (if you've never had one before, it's an absolute must, trust us on this one.)
After breakfast, check out one of the country's latest travel crazes with Cracked It! Escape Rooms. Discover clues, solve puzzles, and "escape" from themed rooms in 60 minutes or less. If you're traveling with family or friends, it's a great team-building exercise. If puzzles aren't your style or you're craving a deeper dive into the city's military history, the Montford Point Marine Museum tells the story of the United States' first African-American Marines in the 1940s on the base where they were first trained, separate from their white counterparts. (Pro Tip: Get in touch with the museum staff a few weeks before your visit to arrange for civilian base access.)
Before heading home, it's time for a meal at Marrakesh Mediterranean Cuisine. With flavors and seasonings that delight the senses, the restaurant serves kabobs, pilaf, and shwarma.
For more details and a printable version of the itinerary, check out this PDF. We look forward to welcoming you to Jacksonville, NC.