Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
5:55 PM EDT, July 2, 2010
To paraphrase an old Lyle Lovett lyric: Instead of going to heaven, he went to Jacksonville.
It usually requires a concert at the wonderful Florida Theatre to lure me to the glimmering skyline of this historic landmark of the Old South. I even saw Lovett there once, where he performed the song with the Jacksonville lyric, pointing out that there was a city of that name in Texas, too.
The Florida Theatre is one of only a few legitimately historic — and legitimately lovely — music houses remaining in the Sunshine State. Opened originally in 1927, the theater underwent a major restoration in 1983. More than 25 years later, there's still an appealing combination of newness and nostalgia that makes it a heavenly place to see a performance.
The show starts in the lobby, where the architect's vision of a Moorish courtyard at night is captured by glittering stars and quietly gurgling fountains. There's a brisk schedule of events that includes the theater's Summer Movie Classics series featuring Sunday afternoon screenings of The Breakfast Club (July 11); The Godfather (July 18); The Godfather II (July 25); and Airplane! (Aug. 1).
There's a concert lineup featuring Monica & Friends (July 16); "Weird Al" Yankovic (July 20); John Hiatt (July 23); and Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard (July 24). Visit floridatheatre.com for details.
All (well, maybe not Weird Al) good excuses for the Jacksonville road trip. As regular readers know, off-the-path dining options also are enough to put me on the road.
In this case, the itch was scratched at Outback Crab Shack (outbackcrabshack.com), at the Six Mile Marina off the St. Johns River on a quiet stretch of scenic Highway 13, about 15 minutes west of St. Augustine. The "no shoes, no shirt, no problem" approach fits a place that offers more specific directions for diners arriving by air or boat than by car. It's a tasty destination for a fried crab soft-shell crab sandwich and a beer.
And, if you have a boat or a plane, let me hitch a ride next time you go.