5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Jacksonville, FL

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

120 acres of landscaped, curated and labeled plant life. This living museum is free to the public (though donations are encouraged) and shows nature at its most beautiful. There are rustic trails through the entire arboretum with pavilions, open fields, and docks overlooking a small lake.

Mandarin Park

Located on the Julington Creek just beyond Old Bull Bay, this park is known for its tranquility, beauty, and fantastic picnic areas. There are large pavilions and benches right beside the water. Playgrounds are nestled under the shade of trees and wooded trails for exploration are abundant. 

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Take a surf in the ocean or spend the morning fishing on the lake; hike along the trails or get a tan on the beach. Hanna Park is an excellent place for picnickers because there is something for everyone. Very few parks offer such diversity of plant life and natural views. I recommend finding a small, shaded cove along one of the lakes if you’re in the mood for a quiet, romantic picnic. A visit to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park also makes for an excellent beach day and picnic by the ocean.

Oceanfront Park

Shaded picnic pavilions adorn this park, appropriately named “Oceanfront”. The entrance to the park features a beautiful, open lawn with several pieces of artwork and statues to enjoy on your way down to the beach. Then, its only a short boardwalk to the sand and waves. Much like Hanna Park, this park is perfect for beach picnics and is not too crowded.

Mom’s Park aka Yacht Basin Park

A true hidden gem in Jacksonville, this park is located on Willowbranch Creek and feels like a beautiful secret when you picnic here. The park was originally named after its neighbors, the Florida Yacht Club. It has existed since the early 1900s. In 2001 the park underwent renovation and Jim Overton, who contributed to the fund, placed a statue in memory of his mother – this statue is known as “Mom’s Statue” from which the park gets its second name. Willow trees cover the park and stone pathways through lush foliage lead you to a one-of-a-kind gazebo filled with colorful mosaic tiles. 

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Fun Summer Things To Do In Jacksonville, FL

Summer is finally here!  The kids are out of school, and backyard barbecues are taking place all over the nation.  After the year we had in 2020, and most people having chosen not to take a vacation, you can almost rest assured that families will be out in full force this year.

With this in mind, we thought we would offer a few great vacation ideas to help you plan, as well as some places that would be great for just a few days away.  We all need time to recharge and some well-deserved play in the sunshine.

Here are some of the best places to check out this summer!

MOSH

1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, FL 32207

The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) inspires the joy of lifelong learning by bringing to life the sciences and regional history.  Jacksonville’s Museum of Science & History makes science, history, and innovation accessible for all! Whatever your age or interest, there’s always something to see and explore across three levels of exciting exhibits. From interactive, award-winning favorites like Currents of Time and Atlantic Tails to the Florida Naturalist’s Center, which houses animals that are native to Northeast Florida, there is something for all ages to discover. Indulge your imagination with a science or live animal show, or explore distant galaxies in one of our planetarium programs. When visiting Northeast Florida’s only science and history museum, there is no limit to what you can discover!

Little Talbot Island State Park

State Road A1A, Jacksonville, FL 32207

The park covers the entire 2,500-acre island. Big Talbot Island State Park lies to the immediate north. The park contains maritime forests, dunes, and salt marshes on the western side of the island. Wildlife includes river otters, marsh rabbits, bobcats, and a variety of native and migrating birds. Activities include camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, nature watching, and surfing. Amenities include a full-facility campground, as well as a youth/group tent campground and beachside picnic pavilions. The park also has bathhouses, a small boat ramp, a nature trail, and a playground. Bicycles and canoes can be rented at the campground.

Fort Caroline

12713 Fort Caroline Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225

Fort Caroline was an attempted French colonial settlement in Florida, located on the banks of the St. Johns River in present-day Duval County. It was established under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière on June 22, 1564, as a new territorial claim in French Florida and a safe haven for Huguenots, who were being persecuted in France because they were Protestant rather than Catholic. The exact site of the former fort is unknown. However, in 1953 the National Park Service established the Fort Caroline National Memorial along the southern bank of the St. John’s River near the point that commemorates Laudonnière’s first landing.

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

500 Wonderwood Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32233

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a 1.5-mile public beach and city park in Jacksonville, Florida. It consists of 447 acres of a mature coastal hammock, which is increasingly rare along Florida’s heavily developed Atlantic coast.

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Things to Do for the Fourth of July in Jacksonville

Everyone’s favorite summer holiday is quickly approaching! Nothing says July 4th like BBQs, pool days, parades, and of course – fireworks! While last year most firework shows and celebrations had to be called off due to the pandemic, this year, some celebrations are able to return. Read on to see what’s happening around Jacksonville this Independence Day and gather up some ideas for your Fourth of July weekend.

Go to a Concert

The cover band Tru Gentlemen is giving a concert on July 4th, and you can celebrate by attending an all-day White Party (wear your best, sexy summer whites!). The party runs from 4 to 8 pm and when the band isn’t playing, live DJs will be “bringing the heat” on the turntables! There will also be free food and drink specials. COVID precautions are in effect and seating is limited, so get tickets soon!

Rent a Slingshot

These fun, speedy little cars are perfect for cruising around near the beaches. While city fireworks and festivities aren’t confirmed yet, renting one of these from Seaside Slingshots and then cruising the beaches to see what events and fireworks you find is a unique way to spend your Independence Day.

Boone Park

A laid-back day barbequing with family and friends is one of the best ways to spend the Fourth of July, and if you’re looking for a public park to host a BBQ, check out Boone Park which has plenty of shade for your picnic blanket, grills, and playgrounds for the kids.

St. Augustine

Take a field trip to America’s oldest city! St. Augustine is just 45 minutes away and is a fun place for a day trip or even a weekend getaway. They’re having a free 4th of July Celebration on Independence Day evening. Live music starts in the Plaza de Constitución at 6 pm and then fireworks over the bay at 9:30 pm. If you’re making a full day – or weekend – of it, some of the key attractions around town are:

·   Anastasia State Park – a wildlife sanctuary and great spot to enjoy outdoor activities.

·   Historic Spanish forts – both the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas are National Parks sites.

·   St Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum – you can climb the tower and get a great view or come after hours on a ghost tour.

Atlantic Beach

Cooling off at the beach is the perfect way to spend a sweltering Fourth of July, and Jacksonville’s location near the Atlantic Ocean has plenty of options for a nice beach day. One of your best options is heading about 30 minutes to the town of Atlantic Beach which has miles and miles of laid-back beaches. The Wide Beach is great for kayakers, sunbathers, and cyclists while Hannah Park is a go-to spot for shell-hunting or taking a break in the shade on a hiking trail. You’ll get a nice dose of history here, too, as it’s believed to be the location of North America’s first year-round Native American settlement and had an important railroad depot in the 1800s.

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Arboretums and Botanical Gardens to Visit in Jacksonville

When considering a vacation, or even just a day out with the family, why not consider visiting a local arboretum or botanical garden?  You can enjoy a delightful getaway with a visit to one of these beautiful gateways to all that nature has to offer.

Arboretums and botanical gardens work to promote common respect and educate with a drive towards an appreciation of the world of gardening and the insects that work to pollinate our plants and flowers. 

These nature monuments are just waiting to be discovered and welcome all visitors for a day of tranquility, enjoying their peaceful beauty.  Make sure to check out one of the arboretums or botanical gardens listed below.

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

1445 Millcoe Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225

Our gardens and trails provide a place where you can find peace and connect with nature.

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204

Arts, gardens, and education converge to create meaningful personal experiences and open a world of new possibilities. We honor our rich history, embrace the energy of our time, and commit to a vibrant future through the advancement of resources to grow and deepen our mission.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218

Escape to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for the only walking safari in Northeast Florida. Discover the earth’s wildlife through interactive and educational experiences. A true family adventure, the Jacksonville Zoo, and Gardens is changing daily and is dedicated to consistently improving. With recent updates to Land of the Tiger and African Forest, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is quickly becoming a world-class establishment. Whether you are a visitor to Florida’s First Coast or a lifetime resident, we invite you to experience the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens through interactions with people, wildlife, and the environment.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

4700 SW 58th Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens (Gainesville, Florida) is a 68-acre facility comprised of 24 major collections visually accessible from a 1 ½ mile paved walkway. These include the state’s largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast. 

Wilmot Gardens

2023 Mowry Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611

Wilmot Botanical Gardens is located in the heart of the Southeast’s largest academic health center, providing a peaceful and verdant respite for patients, faculty, staff, and the public. In addition, the gardens are dedicated to advancing patient care, research, and service through its vibrant and growing therapeutic horticulture program.

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Things to Do for Mother’s Day in Jacksonville

Mother’s Day is coming up next month! The moms in our lives work so hard and give so much, so it’s important to take a day to make them feel special. Whether you’re celebrating your own mother, a step-mother, the mother of your children, or a friend who is a mom, here are some ideas of wonderful things to do with her.

Town Hall

Since Mother’s Day always falls on a Sunday, it’s traditional for many people to take their mom out for brunch. This is always a winning idea, and in Jacksonville, there’s no better place for brunch than Town Hall! They have a lengthy list of cocktails ($5 mimosa anyone?) in addition to all sorts of yummy brunch foods. Unique options include smoked salmon toast, spinach and ricotta omelet, pimento cheese grits, and cauliflower steak!

Lakeside Park

May is the beginning of picnic season! The weather is warming up, trees and flowers are blooming, and outdoor celebrations are a safe option during COVID-19. A great place to take your mom for a picnic locally is Stockton Park. Located on the bank of the St Johns River, the park is a lovely spot to relax with a view. It comes equipped with picnic tables, benches, and a canopy. After you eat, you can take a stroll past the nearby historic mansions on Ortega Boulevard.

Batt Family Fun Center

Does the mom in your life still have young kids and you need to plan a day the whole family can enjoy?  Then you need to head to Batt Family Fun Center. Activities abound, so you’re bound to find something that pleases everyone! For instance, you could try Xtreme Bowling, with glow-in-the-dark lanes, loud music, and fog machines. They also offer Krazie Golf, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf experience. There’s an arcade and billiards, or, you could even play a round of laser tag for the ultimate throwback!

Sweet Pete’s Candy

Chances are, you begged your mom for a lot of candy over the years of your childhood. Well, now is your chance to return the favor at Sweet Pete’s. This historic mansion offers thousands of varieties of candies (try the famous sea salt caramel!) made by 30-year veteran candymaker, Sweet Pete. You can book a candy-making class either on-location or virtually. You can also choose from one of their party packages like “After Hours Candy Bash” and “Grown Ups Can Party, Too.” To make a day of it, and combat the sugar rush, make reservations in their in-house restaurant, 10/6 Grille.

Black Sheep Restaurant

If your mom is more of the traditional type, you might want to treat her to a classy night out. Consider Black Sheep Restaurant in the historic Five Points district. The majority of ingredients for their award-winning food come from local farmers and makers, so you know what you’ll be eating is fresh. They have a rooftop bar and lounge with awesome views, as well as great brunch options if you feel like meeting earlier in the day.

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Best Car Washes in Jacksonville, Florida

If you’re looking for a place to wash your car and get the best service for your money, we have a few great suggestions for you in the city of Jacksonville, Florida. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own car or a rental car, clean or dirty, old or new, whether you’re on vacation or close to home, these car washes and detailers are guaranteed to make your vehicle look like a million bucks. These guys have seen it all. Don’t be afraid to show up with your cookie crumbs, your beach sand, or your toddler’s fast-food mess into the shop. You’ll be amazed at your car’s transformation! Let’s take a closer look at what car washes Jacksonville has to offer.

First, we recommend On the Spot Jax. This shop offers a whole host of different packages from which to choose for your vehicle from a car wash to detailing, to mobile detailing if you can’t make it to the shop. You might also enjoy their fleet detailing or window tinting. They’ll also wrap your car in vinyl. They can repair leather and upholstery and offer ceramic coating. They service vehicles of all kinds, from sedans to minivans, full-sized vans to trucks and SUV’s, come on down and get your estimate today.

Second, we suggest Jax Pro Detailing. This shop has four detailing packages to choose from, including the deluxe detail, the gold package detail, the platinum detail, and the super platinum detail. Each package offers more things and gets more expensive as well. You can even add on extra services, such as exterior wash, clay bar, or wax, deep interior cleans, headlight restoration, or engine detailing. You might also enjoy their odor treatment or perhaps order new pinstripes for your ride. Whatever your service, call or go online to get an estimate and book your appointment.

Finally, Able Detailing might just be what you’re looking for. With a name like Able Detailing, the question is not what do they detail, but what don’t they detail? This shop can handle it all, from sedans to vans, minivans to SUV’s, trucks to semis, huge RV’s to boats, airplanes, to heavy equipment, even fleet detailing! This is your one-stop shop for whatever you need to clean, no questions asked. Of course pricing fluctuates depending on the size and scope of your vehicle, so you’ll need to bring your vehicle in for an estimate. Their services include vacuuming, dusting, tire shine, clean rims, Rain-X, carpet shampoo, and clean and condition leather seats.

If you’re on a time crunch and looking for a quick drive through car wash in Atlanta, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Clean Car Car Wash on Cassat Ave., Self Service Car Wash on Powers Ave., or Zips Car Wash on Dunn Ave. In a pinch, these drive through car washes will help keep you looking good until you can get that detailing done.

Wherever you decide to go, your car will be well taken care of. In the great city of Jacksonville, Florida, you’ll find detailers who truly care about their work and, most importantly, your car. With our recommendations, you’ll be in excellent hands.

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Pet-Friendly Hotels Around Jacksonville

Those of us with pets know it can be hard to travel. You have to arrange for a pet sitter, spend extra money paying them, stock up on food and supplies before you leave, and deal with guilt for leaving your furry friend behind.

One solution that works well for easy-going or adventurous is bringing them along with you! So, if you’re planning a trip to Jacksonville and want to (or have to) bring your fur baby along for the ride, you’ll need accommodations that are pet-friendly. To give you a jumpstart, we’ve analyzed a few of the very best hotels and B&Bs in Jacksonville that accept pets. All are highly rated and we’ve included a variety of options from budget-friendly to luxurious. Read on and choose the one that best serves your needs!

Hotel Indigo Jacksonville-Deerwood Park

If you’re looking for the cool factor, look no further than Hotel Indigo. This boutique hotel is infused with style and tons of local color. The hotel’s goal is to give you the feeling of being on a coastal Florida retreat, and they achieve it with spa-inspired bathrooms, Aveda products, local and seasonal cuisine at their onsite restaurant, and an outdoor pool and hot tub. The rooms are unique and hip, with hardwood floors and murals. Other amenities in the hotel include a fitness studio and a beautiful lakefront setting that’s perfect for walking your dog. Hotel Indigo thinks pets are PAW-some and charges one $50 pet fee per stay.

Airbnb – Traveler’s Oasis

If you like doing your own thing, you should rent the Traveler’s Oasis Guesthouse, where you and your pet will have private access to the whole place! This includes free street parking, Wi-Fi, and a kitchenette with mini-fridge, microwave, toaster oven, and coffee maker. This studio-style Airbnb is stylishly decorated and cozy, but where it really shines is the outdoor space. There’s a fenced-in yard that’s perfect for pets and you’ll enjoy hanging out in the yard, too, due to the koi pond, fire pit, grill, and adorable patio. The host, Nathan, is an experienced Airbnb Superhost and has earned fantastic reviews for his hospitality, the super cute space, and the convenient, walkable location.

The Riverdale Inn

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, chances are you’ll be cramming a lot into your days. If you want a quiet and relaxing place to stay, book a room at The Riverdale Inn. The hosts make it their goal to take the very best care of you, with breakfast each morning and personalized service. Other pluses include individually decorated rooms with private bathrooms, refrigerators, and Keurig machines, a self-serve bar on the ground floor, and onsite parking (including Tesla charging stations). You can feel good about staying here, especially during these tough economic times, because you’ll be supporting a family-owned business! The owners love furry friends but request that you contact the front desk before booking to make sure your pet would be a good fit at the Inn.

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What to do in Jacksonville, Florida

Have you found yourself in Jacksonville, Florida with nothing to do? Lament no more! Jacksonville is a fantastic town for fun and amazing things to do and we have a few recommendations for you. Whether you’re on vacation, on business, or a local after all, it doesn’t matter. The whole family can have a great time. Let’s see what all Jacksonville has to offer.

First, we recommend the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. This museum offers outstanding art as well as hands-on learning and experiments, as well as taking part in the natural beauty that belongs to our planet. You’ll find on display rich history and new and innovative ways to capture the movement of our era, and learn how to utilize various advanced resources to explore the possibilities of brighter tomorrows. Here, you’ll find over 5,000 pieces of art, as well as the living art within their gardens. Tours are available, and a café is on site if you happen to get hungry. Come out with the kids to have a fun and educational day.

Next, if you love shopping for that perfect souvenir, the St. Johns Town Center is your place to go. This is the premier shopping destination for everyone in Jacksonville and boasts over 175 stores and 20 restaurants and eateries. Stores and shops include Apple, Louis Vuitton, Lego, Dillards, and Nordstrom. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, the St. Johns Town Center is sure to have it. Find a beautiful gift or a perfect book and spend a sun-filled day at the center.   

Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is our next suggestion and has so much for minds of all ages to explore. In the Florida Naturalist’s Center, you’ll learn all about wildlife exclusive to Northeast Florida with several hands-on and unique experiences. The Space Science Gallery is the place to go to learn about space exploration and other special exhibits. You’ll marvel at the planetarium on-site as well, and learn about how man first made it beyond our atmosphere.

Finally, the Riverside Arts Market is the jewel of Jacksonville, open every Saturday 10am to 3pm in sunshine or rain. This market offers several different things from local produce to amazing one-of-a-kind art made by local artists. This art ranges from painted pieces to jewelry to handbags, wallets, or wraps. Artisans of all kinds, even those who make specialty breads or soaps come to sell their wares at the Riverside Arts Market. If you’re looking for something unique to take home or give to that special someone, this is the place to go. Each artisan has a booth and sells their items on the spot. This market is perfect for anyone wanting to take home a touch of Jacksonville that cannot be found anywhere else.

Jacksonville, Florida is an amazing little town. Come on down and pick what kind of adventure you’d like to go on today. You will not regret it. Bring the whole family and make it a fabulous day.

Links

On Air Parking (JAX) – https://www.onairparking.com/parking/Jacksonville-International-Airport-JAX

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens – https://www.cummermuseum.org/

St. Johns Town Center – https://www.simon.com/mall/st-johns-town-center

Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History (MOSH) – https://themosh.org/

Riverside Arts Market – https://riversideavondale.org/ram-home/

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Best Legitimate Places to get Vaccinated near JAX

There are currently three vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the US government—Pfizer/BioTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.  Depending on what region of the country you live in will determine which brand will be available to you.

If you are considering receiving the vaccine, it is advised that you look around for a distribution center and make an appointment.  Many of the centers that are administering the vaccine do require patients to have an appointment ahead of time.

Places To Receive The Vaccine

When looking to receive the COVID vaccine, you can contact the local public health department to set up an appointment. 

Duval County Health Department

900 University Blvd N

Jacksonville, FL 32211

904.253.1000

Hours: Monday – Friday 8 am to 5 pm

There are two state-supported vaccination sites in Jacksonville.  It is suggested that you call ahead of time as appointments are required.

·         Regency Square Mall

·         Edward Waters College

This is also on a federally supported vaccination site.  Federally supported sites are walk-up on a first-come, first-served basis.

·         Gateway Mall

Several Jacksonville retailers are authorized to distribute the vaccine as well.  It is suggested that you call ahead of time, as an appointment may be necessary.

·         Publix Pharmacy

·         Walmart

·         Sam’s Club

·         Harvey’s Pharmacy

·         CVS

There are also several hospitals and health centers offering vaccinations.  Contact the locations ahead of time as appointments are required.

·         UF Health North

·         UF Health Jacksonville

·         The Prime F Osborn III Convention Center

·         Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville

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Great Places to Stay Traveling to Jacksonville

Jacksonville airport parking, try onairparking.com for the best rates!

Do you have travel to Jacksonville coming up soon? Whether you’ve been to the city before or it’s your very first time, if you don’t have relatives or friends to stay with, you’re going to be looking for a quality place to rest your head.

Finding the very best place can be overwhelming when you have to consider all the factors, like price, comfort, service, health & safety, location, and more! To give you a jumpstart, we’ve analyzed a few of the very best hotels and B&Bs in Jacksonville. All are very different -from quirky to traditional- but highly rated. Read on to see why these are your best options, and then choose the one that best serves your needs!

Hotel Indigo Jacksonville-Deerwood Park

If you’re looking for the cool factor, look no further than Hotel Indigo. This boutique hotel is infused with style and tons of local color. The hotel’s goal is to give you the feeling of being on a coastal Florida retreat, and they achieve it with spa-inspired bathrooms, Aveda products, local and seasonal cuisine at their onsite restaurant, and an outdoor pool and hot tub. The rooms are unique and hip, with hardwood floors and murals. Other amenities in the hotel include pet-friendly policies, a fitness studio, and a beautiful lakefront setting.

The Riverdale Inn

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, chances are you’ll be cramming a lot into your days. If you want a quiet and relaxing place to stay, book a room at The Riverdale Inn. This historic Bed and Breakfast is your comfortable oasis from the city. The hosts make it their goal to take the very best care of you, with breakfast each morning and personalized service. Other pluses include individually decorated rooms with private bathrooms, refrigerators, and Keurig machines, a self-serve bar on the ground floor, onsite parking (including Tesla charging stations), and pet-friendly policies. You can feel good about staying here, especially during these tough economic times because you’ll be supporting a family-owned business!          

Seaside Amelia Inn

Flying into Jacksonville Airport, but looking for a beach vacation rather than hanging around in the city? The perfect spot for your beachfront getaway is the Seaside Amelia Inn, located on Amelia Island, less than an hour away from Jacksonville. This hotel is great for families or couples and is near lots of fun things to do, like horseback riding, ocean cruises, trails, and more!

Crown Plaza Jacksonville Airport Hotel

If you’re taking a quick trip through the city and want to be close to the airport, book a stay at the Crown Plaza Jacksonville Airport Hotel. At 2.5 miles from the airport, it hits that sweet spot where you’re just a quick shuttle ride from the terminal, but you don’t have planes taking off right outside your window. And in addition to the prime location, you’ll be enjoying a comfortable stay, with access to free parking, a heated outdoor pool, and great dining options both onsite and in the neighborhood.

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