The decision had been made, we were finally going to go and renew our passports like responsible adults. 2+ hours later, we were headed downtown. As we exit, the hubby asks, "Do you really want to spend $300 at the passport office today-why don't we just go to lunch?" Well of course I'd rather have lunch than drop $300; that was easy! Sweet Pete's and The Candy Apple Cafe was about to be the highlight of our afternoon.
We decided to check out Sweet Pete's and The Candy Apple Café. Sweet Pete's is located right downtown Jacksonville across from City Hall. Parking wasn't a problem for us, but easily could be during busy times of the day in Jacksonville. They offer valet parking between 11:30am and 2pm however we had just missed the cutoff. The young man at the lot was extremely helpful and directed us to some metered parking just a few steps away and offered to run down for us and feed the meter if we didn't have any quarters in the car. We paid $1 for 2 hours and made it back just in time! In addition to the metered parking, there are 2 parking garages within walking distance but I wouldn't want to try it in a pair of high heels.
As you enter the building at Sweet Pete's, your inner child immediately recognizes that you've found something special. I found it to be the perfect mix of sophisticated whimsy for adults and sugary sweet bliss for children. We opted for lunch prior to exploring the 3 story building, saving the best for last. I felt like I was in an super chic version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The black and white color scheme with it's somewhat exaggerated decor made you want to just sit back, smile and relax. I imagine that the "vibe" gets even better at night. The staff in the cafe was professional and super friendly. I was also pleasantly surprised by the food. Everything was fresh and well prepared while being reasonably priced considering the outstanding quality.
After lunch, we explored the first floor candy store then hoofed it up the stairs(there is an elevator for those that need it) for some ice cream and a peek inside the factory. The 3rd floor is where the large rooms for events are located.
The 2nd floor was an explosion of color with varied confections and sugary goodies. It was difficult to know where to begin in the sea of sensory overload. This is where we found the ice cream parlor that was out of this world. Once again, the staff was incredibly professional and we chatted awhile comparing their usual morning field trip crowd versus the afternoon crowd. That morning they had hosted 60 children. I can't imagine how one goes about hosting 60 kids in a giant candy store. Hats off to the staff; they smiled while sharing some stories and it was abundantly clear that they love their jobs.
After enjoying ice cream and a salted caramel cupcake, we noticed that it was about to rain and we had been there almost 2 hours! We hustled over to the factory where we briefly watched the staff hard at work. If you have time or the inclination, check out the other section where you can actually speak to the staff on the floor and interact. Unfortunately, the meter was literally ticking so we didn't go that far and had to bring our visit to an end.
If you find yourself in Jacksonville, Florida, I highly suggest that you visit Sweet Pete's. It's like Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and we loved it! If you've ever visited share in the comment section. I would love to hear what you thought about it.