The 90s were a simpler time. Clothes were baggier, music came on cassette tapes, Blockbuster still existed. If you're anything like the rest of us, you likely spend at least a few hours a day pining nostalgically for all things 1990s. Especially if you lived in Jacksonville, FL during the 90s. Because we can't help but revisit what feels like better days, join us as we tour things only 90s Jacksonville, FL residents will remember.
Sinking Quarters/Tokens into Games at Aladdin's Castle & Tilt
Thanks to barcades like Keg & Coin – an arcade bar in Jacksonville's Riverside neighborhood – and entertainment hotspots like Dave and Busters and Adventure Landing, there are still places you can get your arcade cabinet fix.
But there's nothing like the originals. Bereft of the other distractions – Keg & Coin is a bar first, arcade second, while Dave and Busters and Adventure Landing prominently feature an entire restaurant and a water park, respectively – these classic arcades existed purely for the endless joy of arcade games.
Many of us lost countless hours in Aladdin's Castle in the Orange Park mall. Parents shopping for boring stuff? Give us $5 and we'll be content basked in the warm glow of arcade cabinets for at least an hour. The same goes for Tilt at the Jacksonville Landing (itself an icon of the 90s that no longer exists). A few rounds of Street Fighter with friends at Tilt would be enough to make anyone's weekend.
Playing Mini-Golf with Rex at Goony Golf
Before he became the orange sentinel of Beach Boulevard as we know him today, Rex, Jacksonville's famous T-Rex statue, presided over innumerable mini-golf games at Goony Golf. He was one of several, um, interesting obstacles and characters for which Goony Golf was known. For all its kitschy charm, Goony Golf felt like a staple of a fun Saturday afternoon.
And while the chain's Jacksonville location went extinct early in the 2000s, we still thankfully have Rex's beautiful mug to remind us of just how great things used to be.
Going to a Drive-In Movie
Going to a movie in a normal theater is a treat in itself, to be sure. But there was just something special about rolling down the windows, audio pouring out your radio, and watching a movie in the crisp night air.
In the 90s, Jax residents had a few options. They could pull up to the Playtime Drive-In off Blanding Boulevard or the Beaches Drive-In. These excellent and unique date destinations from the 90s sadly no longer exist. Playtime had its screens shut down for good in 2008, while Beaches Drive-In had its proverbial windows shuttered in 2003.
Feasting on the Wagon Wheel at Famous Amos. Ordering a Camel Rider on-the-go from The Sheik. A full chicken platter from Beach Road Chicken Dinners. Sipping on a Slush Puppie from the local Little Champ gas station. Barbecue from the short-lived Rumboggies (or maybe you just bought the sauce?). Eating Chinese buffet in a dimly lit indoor dining area surrounded by koi ponds and bridges at Garden of Tiki.
We could go on, but we're making ourselves hungry.
What were you doing for fun in the 90s if you weren't at the mall? Maybe your commerce hub of choice was the Regency Square Mall, with its bustling storefronts and unique eateries at the food court. Or maybe you favored the newer atmosphere of the Avenues mall, which opened its doors in 1990.
If you lived in Orange Park, though, we know you loved the Orange Park Mall. Dozens of storefronts, a thriving food court, the aforementioned Aladdin's Castle, and, of course, the classic carousel.
With no major league sports teams calling Jacksonville home in the early 90s, the city still had plenty of sports to get excited for. Baseball was never hotter than when the Jacksonville Suns lit up minor league ballparks (of course they still persist today, though rebranded as the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp).
Meanwhile, possibly the coolest local sports team in terms of uniforms, colors, logo, and name: The Jacksonville Lizard Kings. Sure, hockey doesn't have a strong foothold in Florida, but the Lizard Kings captured the hearts of many Jax residents on sheer coolness alone. Just look at that logo above!
Then, of course, the big daddy arrives in 1993: Jacksonville gets its very own NFL franchise. The Jaguars were born, and a city fell in love with its team in teal. The 90s seasons were special for the Jags, too, as the team found immense success within its first three seasons playing in the formerly named Alltel Stadium.
Keep Max in Jax
The intoxicating smell of coffee beans is familiar to anyone from Jacksonville thanks to the Maxwell House coffee plant located downtown. However, in the early 90s, the plant was nearly shutdown. The city launched a "Keep Max in Jax" campaign to convince Maxwell House to keep the plant open. It turned out to be wildly successful, not only saving the plant but motivating the company to double down in Jax with a multi-million-dollar expansion.
Classic Jax Radio Stations
The 90s had some outstanding radio stations for Jax residents. We spent many an afternoon cranking up the dial on all our favorite modern hits on 97.9 KISS FM. There was 93.3 Planet Radio for crunching new rock, while 104.5 pumped out all the classic rock your heart could desire. Then, of course, we had Cool 96.9, showering us all with "good times, great oldies."
Don't listen to the naysayers; gameday in Jacksonville is a special experience. For years, fans of the Teal and Gold have gathered on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays to cheer on the Jaguars. And if you've been to an NFL game before, you know it's an all-day event. So whether it's your first time supporting the home team in person or you're a fan of a visiting team, here's your guide to the ultimate Jaguars gameday experience.
Rise and shine! Kickoff may not be until 1:00 p.m. (for most home games), but gamedays start early here. And since you'll be going all day, you need some fuel to get you going. If you're staying near TIAA Bank Field, you'll have a few tasty breakfast options. The chicken biscuits at Maple Street Biscuit Company are life-changing. Seriously, take one bite of The Squawking Goat – fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion, and house-made pepper jelly on a flaky biscuit – and try not to fall in love. Other nearby breakfast and brunch spots include Metro Diner and First Watch.
Now that you're fueled up for the big day ahead, it's time to head to the stadium. You'll find an abundance of parking in the lots surrounding the stadium, though many spots here require passes. Venture just a little farther outside those lots and more parking awaits, especially along the St. Johns River banks. Don't want to pay for parking? Many side streets about a mile outside the stadium offer ample free parking for the trade-off of a brief walk to the game. Or you could park on an opposite river bank and pay $10 for a water taxi ride to the stadium. Tailgaters rejoice: you'll have plenty of room to bust out the grills, coolers, tents, chairs, and any other essentials pretty much wherever you park.
TIAA Bank Field opens up three hours prior to kickoff for all ticket holders, allowing access to the many fun experiences inside the stadium. There's the Lycamobile Fan Entertainment Zone, which serves as a premiere pregame party area with food, fun, and football activities. You can also check out The Bud Light Zone in the south endzone. This social hotspot opens two hours prior to kickoff and offers food, drinks, and the ultimate place to chill before the game. Need a new Jaguars shirt or looking for a fun souvenir to bring home with you? Visit one of the multiple Jags Pro Shops in the stadium for a huge selection of Jaguars merchandise.
TIAA Bank Field is full of unique ways to watch the hometown team take the field. Upgrade your Jaguars gameday experience with climate-controlled lounges at midfield or take in incredible views of all the action behind the endzone in The Bud Light [Fri]End Zone. If the Jacksonville heat is beating you down, grab a suite ticket or splurge for the NFL's most unique way to watch a football game: poolside in the Axalta Spa Cabana. Whether you're on the sideline or in the nosebleeds, you can watch the on-field action on the massive video screens at each end of the stadium. These behemoths are 62 feet tall and 362 feet wide, providing a canvas of 22,000 square feet to broadcast a live feed of the game, replays, and more.
After (hopefully) witnessing the Jaguars conquer their opponents, it's time to celebrate! Feel free to stick around your tailgate where post-game parties will continue for a few hours (plus it gives traffic time to die down). Once you're ready to eat, you'll discover tons of great restaurants near the stadium. BBs makes a mean steak, while The Bearded Pig serves up some of the city's finest barbecue. Foodies will love Black Sheep's unique take on Southern classics or the casually upscale menu at Bellwether. The two outdoor patios at Jacksonville Sports Tavern provide a great spot to watch the rest of the afternoon's games and grab a bite to eat. And, in the unfortunate event of a Jags loss, redeem the night with friends and fun at Bold City, Intuition, or Hyperion. Now go out and have the ultimate Jaguars gameday experience this season!