Bon Voyage

Road Trip to Space Coast Stadium: Travel to Space Coast Stadium with stops in New Bern, NC and Jacksonville, FL.| By Fireman Mike


By Fireman Mike, Old Town Post, 18 March 2015

Washington Nationals spring training games are one of life’s adventures not to be missed especially if you are a baseball fan. And, what better way to get there then to begin a road trip.

2I left Old Town at 7:30 a.m. On March 4. The first stop would be New Bern, NC a fantastic quaint sea town and the home of Pepsi. The drive was 5 hours. I arrived in time to have lunch with my friends Bethany and Doug. Bethany is a bartender at MJ’s, which is a must stop seafood restaurant. Doug is the general manager at a brewery called Beer Army. Beer Army is rapidly expanding with an exceptional variety of brews.

My travels the next day took me down Route 17 and eventually back on to 95 South. By 5:00 I had had enough driving and stopped in Jacksonville, FL for the night. I checked into the Aloft Tapestry Park, which just happened to be a perfectly situated hotel. There was a Starbucks, a sushi restaurant, Hooters, Tilted Kilt, and three brew pubs within walking distance. The pubs all had outdoor seating and I would rate them as follows: Mellow Mushroom (which is a franchise chain with excellent pizza), Miller’s Jacksonville Alehouse, and Seven Bridges Grill & Brewery.

IMG_2300Upon leaving Jacksonville, on the morning of March 6, I decided to travel down the coast via A1A instead of 95 South. By the time I reached New Smyrna Beach it was almost noon. A friend had recommended a brew pub there so why not it’s 5 o’clock somewhere and the USA women’s soccer team was playing in the Algarve Cup. The Half Wall Beer House had a great collection of brews. I chose the Stone chipotle porter, though a great beer, was probably not my best choice for the first brew of the day.

4After the Stone and watching the USA win, I traveled on to my destination of Cocoa Beach. The weather was overcast and 60 degrees but better than the cold and snow in Old Town. I checked into the Sheraton Four Points which is a fantastic place to stay and centrally located to all things fun.

I went straight for the beach and the ocean. The water temperature was a bit chilly to jump right in but a least I could get my feet wet and feel the ocean again for the first time this year. I went to my local bar, the Sandbar, which is a 5 minute walk from the Sheraton. After a few corona lights and the Sandbar’s famous and delicious fish tacos I decided to take a 10 minute walk on the beach to the Cocoa Beach Pier. The Pier has its own collection of restaurants, shops, and bars. Perhaps the highlight is just watching surfers, paddle boarders, volleyball players and sunbathers. The Mai Tiki bar at the end of the Pier is pretty cool.

5I returned to the Sheraton for a stop off at the hotel restaurant – Shark Pit Bar & Grill. I had an oven fired florentine spinach, artichoke, and bacon pizza. Before going to bed I had to walk across the street to the world famous Ron Jon Surf Shop. This one of a kind shop has absolutely anything and everything you would need for any beach occasion.

3March 7 – Game day was here and the weather was beautiful – sunny and 72. I arrived at the stadium with an hour to spare before first pitch. The stadium was filling quickly for the game against the Cardinals. Strasburg was on the mound. He didn’t do as well as I’d hoped and he was done in two innings. All in all, the game was well played and the Nats came out with a victory. The Nats’ bats were cracking and the newbies looked promising. There are just too many great players to keep so Matt Williams will have a tough time cutting his roster.

The day after the game I ventured down the beach a couple of miles to a local neighborhood bar that another friend suggested I visit. Jump’s Tiny Tavern is a hidden away spot a couple blocks off the beach. The eclectic mix of patrons and the competitive horseshoe tournament made for a fun filled afternoon. After leaving Jumps I went back to the Sandbar for a night of reggae music. The Sandbar is the place to go on the beach for Sunday Funday.

IMG_2319Monday took me out to the middle of cocoa beach to the central area of spring break 2015. If you want to see skimpy bikinis, glistening bodies, and have frozen drinks at a Tiki Bar on the beach then Coconuts is the place to be. Coconuts also serves the best clam chowder. Coconuts is for sure a party but it was crowded and I was getting hungry so I ventured out to find some more food.

The best steak and cheese can be found at Pineapple Point which is just a few blocks from Coconuts. The steak and cheese rivals Al’s Steakhouse on Mount Vernon but does not topple the king of steak and cheese.

I awoke early Tuesday morning and left Cocoa Beach for Old Town. I drove straight through only stopping for gas twice. The trip was smooth but long – 12 hours.

Nats spring training 2016 will undoubtedly see me again. Though, the Nats may be moving to another locale in Florida for the 2016 season.

The Salt Life has eased my soul until my next meeting with Mother Ocean. See you opening day on April 6. Go Nats!



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