Jacksonville, located in the northeastern corner of Florida, close to the Georgia border, is the most populous city in the state. While not as tropical as more southern Florida cities such as Miami and Tampa, Jacksonville has a pleasant climate throughout most of the year, making it an excellent vacation destination, especially in the late fall and winter months. Jacksonville has a rich history and thriving culture, offering tourists plenty of educational experiences, entertainment, and dining options.
Guest post by Martins Godainis
What’s the Best Time to Visit Jacksonville?
Although Jacksonville has a humid subtropical climate, it has been known to get slightly chilly at times from December through February. The middle of summer can be marred by sweltering, sometimes unbearable heat, so the best time to visit based on temperature is either from March to May or September to November. These months can also help to avoid swarms of tourists, as many people are drawn to the beaches during the hot summer months. This also helps to keep prices down for accommodations and travel.
If you are from a cold-weather city, however, and are fine with night temperatures in the 40s, you can save a lot of money by visiting in the winter months. This will also come with the added benefit of even fewer tourists, as these are the least popular times to visit. Daytime temperatures average in the 60s, so while you can still visit the beaches, you won’t want to be taking a dip as the water will be exceedingly cold.
a Few Facts About Jacksonville
– Jacksonville is the most populous city in the southeast United States, with a total city population of just over 820,000 people.
– Jacksonville is named after General Andrew Jackson who never actually visited the city.
– At 840 square miles of area, Jacksonville is the largest city by area in the continental United States.
– Hemming Park is the oldest public park in Jacksonville and is located right downtown.
– Over 30,000 active duty military personnel are employed in Jacksonville.
– The area surrounding Jacksonville is often referred to as The First Coast.
– The Friendship Fountain was the world’s tallest and largest fountain when it was built in 1965.
– Jacksonville suffered the third largest city fire in America in 1901, with the Great Fire leveling 146 city blocks and over 2300 buildings. The damage done would cost $2 billion in today’s currency.
– Jacksonville is home to the World Golf Hall of Fame – no surprise given that golf is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and the PGA Tour is headquartered just southeast of the city.
One Day in Jacksonville Itinerary
Top Things to do in Jacksonville
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip, even if you’re short on time. These are the top things to do during your one day in Jacksonville.
Grab Breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Company
The Maple Street Biscuit Company is a true southern gem, with delicious, moist yet flaky biscuits and a veritable smorgasbord of different topping options. The biscuits and gravy are a delectable classic, but you can’t go wrong with any of their offerings. The San Marco location is close to downtown, making for an easy commute and a great start to your day.
Get Some Education at the Museum of Science and History
The Museum of Science and History is Jacksonville’s most popular museum, and it even contains an aquarium. There are many interesting exhibits that will please kids and adults alike, with many different focuses such as biology and physics.
Take a Ride to Neptune Beach
You can get to Neptune Beach in about a half hour from downtown, and it is an excellent place to experience the maritime culture of Jacksonville. With beautiful sand and clear skies, you can relax on the oceanfront, go for a dip, or take a hike around the piers. There is a town center between Neptune and Atlantic Beach with plenty of shopping and a wide variety of food options.
Eat Lunch at North Beach Fish Camp
Seafood is king in Florida, and North Beach Fish Camp delivers the goods. With a nice, bright and open atmosphere, this is a casual lunch spot that has something for everyone. Fresh oysters are always a popular catch, and the fish tacos are light and tasty while providing plenty of sustenance. Best of all, you’ll be dining close to the water under the beautiful palm trees of Jacksonville.
Head back into town for a brewery tour at Intuition Ale Works
Intuition Ale Works is one of the most well-known craft brewers in Jacksonville, and they have the beers to back it up. They offer tours that will teach you how the beer is made and about some of the history of brewing in Jacksonville. Don’t forget to grab a pint and check out the rooftop, as it has beautiful panoramic views of the entire city. Once you’re done here, it’s a great time to walk around downtown as the day starts to wind down.
Visit the historic Memorial Park, which is right on the water and offers over 5 acres of natural landscaping and impressive monuments. The park allows you to get unfettered views of the river while enjoying the greenery and shade of the trees if so desire. There are also memorial sculptures from World War 1, and the park was built in honor of 1200 Floridian soldiers who died in combat. This is an excellent place sit back and relax for a bit before you continue your journey throughout Jacksonville.
Visit the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Located just a mile from Intuition Brewery, MOCA is a famous museum that displays cutting edge artwork. They are constantly cycling through new exhibits, and you are sure to see something interesting no matter what time of year you are there. Locals and tourists alike agree that no trip to Jacksonville is complete without a stop at MOCA.
Eat Dinner at bb’s Restaurant
Hopefully you’ve walked off the earlier calories, because bb’s serves up generous portions of fantastic modern American fare. The seasonal fish is always fresh and perfectly cooked, but if you’ve had enough seafood for the day, you can’t go wrong with the pork loin or the meatballs. If you’re lucky, your dinner will even be accompanied by some live local music.
Where to Stay in Jacksonville?
The Omni Jacksonville is a luxury hotel located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville right off of the St. John’s River and near the famed Jacksonville landing. Entertainment and dining options abound for patrons of this beautiful accommodation.
For a cheaper option, consider the Knights Inn Jacksonville Downtown. It isn’t a luxury resort, but it is plenty comfortable and within walking distance of some of the most desirable attractions.
DAY TRIPS FROM JACKSONVILLE
As you know, Florida has a lot to offer. That’s why day trips from Jacksonville are such a great way to get to know this wonderful state. No matter if you want history, nature or simply want to see another city, everything is here.
Why not go and visit Tampa? It’s a marvelous city with loads of parks and beautiful beaches, so you can simply chill out if you want. You can also visit the famous Busch Gardens, an excellent theme park inspired by Africa, or check out some of many institutions dedicated to taking care of various animals, like Big Cat Rescue.
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Blue Springs Park
If you just want to get away from it all, you can head to Blue Springs Park. Enjoy a swim or even a kayak ride surrounded by lush greenery and look for manatees, which are fairly common in this area. This untouched oasis is just the place you need to recharge your batteries.
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But there is more the incredible nature here has to offer. Ichetucknee Springs are also an incredible place to unwind a little. Crystal clear water feeds the lush vegetation, and the area is particularly popular among families with children. For adults, there’s also the possibility of enjoying a swim in some of the nearby caves, primarily near Blue Hole Spring.
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Now this is something really special. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States, being founded in 1565. But it has to offer so much more than that one information. Its European heritage is clearly visible in its impressive architecture, so you will have loads of photo opportunities here. Explore the cobblestone streets and check out the St. Augustine Lighthouse for a spectacular view if you have the time. A day here is a day well spent.
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If you take all the aforementioned day trips from Jacksonville and merge them into one, you get White Springs. Surrounded by incredible nature, it is home to loads of Victorian houses and quaint little shops, but if you want to be active, head to the nearby Big Shoals Park for some whitewater rafting. No matter if you want a day of peace and quiet or an adrenaline rush, you’ll find it all here.
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Daytona Beach is all about cars. And beaches, obviously. And beaches on which you can drive cars. If you’re a fanatic when it comes to speed, coming here is something you absolutely must do. Head to Daytona International Speedway, even if there is no race scheduled – you can see the track firsthand and see some of the most famous cars to ever race there.
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Extra Tips for Visiting Jacksonville
– If visiting in the winter, bring layers! The temperature can drop quite a bit as the sun goes down.
– Ask locals for advice. Southern hospitality is very real, and many people will want to steer you in the right direction.
– Call ahead for tee times if you plan on golfing. Golf is extremely popular, and the courses fill up fast!
– If you are traveling from abroad under the Visa Waiver Program, make sure to obtain your ESTA Travel Authorization prior to visiting Jacksonville.
– Make your trip to Jacksonville even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for all the activities and organized tours in Jacksonville or around the area.
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