Our continuing celebration of Jacksonville’s wonderful park system is a worthwhile project by the editorial page staff.
Therefore, we asked members of our Email Interactive Group for their nominations of their favorite parks. Of course, that could include the magestic regional and national parks in Duval County, but there are many beautiful neighborhood parks in the First Coast, as well.
GOOD NEIGHBOR IN GRANADA
I love Grenada Park in San Marco. It’s a small park but has lots of green space for kids and for adults to kick a soccer ball around. The neighborhood holds Christmas events, summer events and an Oktoberfest. And it’s within walking distance from many homes in the area.
Melanie Barriger Wilson, Jacksonville
SUNRISE IN GREEN COVE
Spring Park in Green Cove Springs provides commanding views of the St. Johns River in addition to providing picnic facilities, playgrounds and a spring-fed swimming pool. There isn’t a more inspirational moment than seeing the sunrise on Easter Sunday at Spring Park.
Robert Page, Green Cove Springs
AVONDALE TO MANDARIN
Jacksonville is fortunate to have plenty of parks. I hope residents and visitors take advantage of them.
Growing up, Willow Branch and Boone Park were my favorites. Lots of trees, playground equipment, and Willow Branch had a library and a creek to wade in all the way to the river. Nobody saw us doing that!
Today, the Walter Jones Historical Park is my really special park. Also lots of trees, and the boardwalk along the river is like a mini-vacation right at home!
The park contains the Mandarin Museum, which is open and free to everyone. It’s a gem of a place with wonderful exhibits, including the sunken Yankee gunboat Maple Leaf display of artifacts salvaged from over a century in the river.
Among the other buildings is an old farmhouse and a restored schoolhouse from postbellum Mandarin.
Walter Jones is a marvelous place to spend a day.
And I’ll bet most of our Duval County residents don’t know about it.
Mimi Grenville, Jacksonville
GEM IN ORANGE PARK
Clarke Park on Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park is my nomination. Until the Clarke family donation of the property, there was no park (or oranges) in town.
John F. Klein, Orange Park
HIDDEN IN EAST ARLINGTON
My favorite park is a little neighborhood park on Girvin Road at the intersection of Ashley Manor Road. It has a picnic shelter with grill, a tennis court, swings and slide. It has a large grass area for romping with your children or pets. It’s where you turn in to the old Girvin Landfill.
The only way you know it’s there is if you have been here a while or go up snooping around the locked gates. I go there and sit in my truck and read. I started waiting there before picking up my grandkids after school. Summer came and my wife wanted to know where I was going. I let her know. It’s a very small quiet park the city maintains, no crowds. If you see more than five people there, it’s a crowd. You see and hear the birds and squirrels chattering and playing. Thank you, Jacksonville, for this small treasure amid our busy lives.
Mike Thagard, Jacksonville
VARIETY AT ST. AUGUSTINE
Anastasia State Park has camping, ocean swimming, fishing, hiking, bike riding, kids’ playground and easy access to St. Augustine’s restaurants and tourist attractions. They could double the number of campsites and still sell out.
Alan Lavallee, Orange Park
PLAY, PONDS IN MANDARIN
My family likes Losco Park in Mandarin. It’s close, convenient and has quite a few things for the kids to do, including playgrounds, trails and a pond. It’s also very clean and good for outdoor birthday parties.
Carole Chavis, Jacksonville
A BIG ARLINGTON PARK
Ed Austin Regional Park in Arlington is spacious and multifaceted for families (a playground, jogging trail, dog park). Jacksonville needs more off-leash dog parks!
Ellin Iselin, Jacksonville
SPECIAL NATURE PRESERVE
By far my favorite park is the Willie Browne trail system in the Theodore Roosevelt Preserve. The trail wends through a coastal forest. There is a birding platform where you are surrounded by marshland. The view across the river is spectacular. One of the trail loops includes the steepest hill in Jacksonville. If nature, or just outdoor exercise is your thing, there isn’t better.
Charles Winton, Jacksonville