Local JAX experience gifts?
December 9, 2012 8:09 PM   Subscribe

XmasGiftFilter - In-laws recently retired to Jacksonville and we're going there for xmas. Help me find local experience gifts for the couple who has everything (and just downsized their lifestyle).

My in-laws are awesome people! They just (last week) moved homes, and downsized quite drastically for them, so they're not bound to be interested in accumulating more stuff.

About them: They're in their early 70s, with limited mobility. They're progressive democrats who've been active in their (Episcopal) church and with homeless and senior communities. They have a cat and are mourning a beloved dog. They like colonial antiques, Americana, and farmhouse style stuff, which is usually our go-to for their gifts. They love to eat, especially French, BBQ, and other American fare. They don't drink, and they already have an iPad. They're not particularly art or music lovers.

We'd be interested in getting them experiential gifts, especially in and around their new area in Jacksonville: Lakeshore South. They have a car and aren't afraid to use it. Bonus points if this gift introduces them to more people they might like or a place they would find interesting enough to return to.

So far I've come up with the idea of a gift certificate to a nice local restaurant. But they tend to do it up for xmas, so I'm looking for a few more ideas I can use. Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by nadise to Shopping (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about cooking lessons? They'd eat well, and they'd be able to meet other people with similar interests.
posted by xingcat at 8:17 PM on December 9, 2012

By far the coolest thing I did in Jacksonville some years back was have lunch at the local municipal airport!

Most airports in this category have decent or better restaurants so hobby pilots can "fly in" for a bite and make day of it. This particular restaurant was good enough food-wise, GREAT view of the runway, naturally.

The best part? There are A LOT of former professional pilots in the area, many close to your in-laws age. It was by far the busiest fly in restaurant I've ever been to - and the friendliest!

Pilots are great to strike up conversations with!

I'm sure flights and glider flights are available for the adventurous.

As I remember, the restaurant was up a flight of stairs on the second floor of the airport. I'm sure there is an elevator, but do ask if you get them gift certificates for this.
posted by jbenben at 8:46 PM on December 9, 2012

I don't see a gift certificate option, but since you'll be there, their antiques/Americana interest makes me think they might like it if you took them to the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine an hour away. It's more of a Gilded Age knick-knack display than it is an art museum. Limited mobility could make the Castillo San Marcos and the Alligator Farm tricky (I think the fort only has stairs for getting up on the ramparts), but those are other St. Augustine options for a day trip. There are definitely antique stores and nice restaurants there too, but I don't have specific recommendations--the places I've eaten there were unmemorable.

My experience with restaurants in Jacksonville is modest too, but they might like Vito's at the Landing, especially if they reserve a table with a decent view (hm, their web site might have issues).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:50 PM on December 9, 2012

I also thought of the alligator farm.
posted by jbenben at 8:54 PM on December 9, 2012

Membership to an x-of-the-month type thing? They don't drink, which rules out wine and other alcoholic beverages, which would otherwise be the go-to suggestion, but there are lots of other options now. Several companies have high-end food sample boxes shipped on a monthly basis, which is nice because it's not overwhelming and gives them new things to try. There's nothing leftover for them to store at the end, either — it doesn't create or contribute to clutter. And then there are specific food clubs dedicated to different types of cheese (bleu, cheddar, Wisconsin-only, whatever), bacon, coffee, tea, etc.

Not necessarily experiential, but it's low-commitment on their part which might be good in a gift.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:55 PM on December 9, 2012

See if Metro Diner has gift cards!
posted by oceanjesse at 6:43 AM on December 10, 2012

Hey, I grew up in Jacksonville (westside) and it's a great town. I'd suggest the Avondale, Riverside or San Marco neighborhoods for some fun walking around and people watching. I know Avondale and San Marco both have great restaurants and lots of fun stores for browsing. Here is a link to some of the restaurants and it has a listing of what's happening in the area as well. Also, The Cummer Museum of Art in Riverside is fantastic. Small, easy to navigate & beautiful...it's like a little jewel on the water. I remember they usually have beautiful decorations for the holidays and your in-laws will definitely want to go back in the spring when the gardens will be spectacular. I'm not a big art or museum fan and I still like to go there.

St. Augustine is just 45 minutes south and is fun and beautiful during the holidays. If they feel up for it, you should do the tour of Flagler College. It used to be the Ponce de Leon hotel and is really impressive and unusual. The fort is also a must see...you really can't miss it if you'll be walking down St. George Street. I think the lower level is accessible for people with mobility issues.

If you want to go to an old and beautiful Episcopal church for holiday services, check out The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Riverside. If they are looking for something a bit smaller, St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Ortega might be better.

Finally, maybe you could get them a gift of a class at The Art League of Jacksonville. It's a non-profit that provides art education to children and adults...so it has painting, sculpture, drawing etc. classes. It looks like one of their class locations is in Murray Hill which is very near Lakeshore.

I don't get back home as much as I'd like but feel free to memail me with any specific questions you might have.
posted by victoriab at 7:22 AM on December 10, 2012

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