On Florida’s “First Coast” sits one of the Sunshine State’s glistening gems: Jacksonville. This vibrant city balances beautiful preserved green spaces with bustling urban attractions, creating a unique vacation experience. From exploring the ocean’s depths to discovering Florida’s long history, the city’s attractions and activities appeal to travelers of all kinds. Whether you want to relax on the sand or get active with your family in the Florida sunshine, there’s something for everyone here. Discover a few of the reasons why so many people love to vacation in Jacksonville, and start dreaming of your next journey.
With 22 miles of wide, sugar-white sandy beaches, Jacksonville is a marvelous destination for beach-lovers. It offers three main beach areas — Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach — all of which offer plentiful water activities ranging from swimming to jet-skiing to boating. During summer, the city’s Beaches Trolley can take you can take you from the beach to shops, restaurants and nearby neighborhoods.
Explore the Largest Urban Park System in the U.S.
As remarkable as Jacksonville’s gorgeous beaches may be, they’re almost eclipsed by the 80,000 acres of parks that are just waiting to be explored. Hiking, biking, and kayaking are just a few of the activities available. The park system includes more than 400 city parks, seven state parks, two national parks and more than 35 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is a great park for hiking through coastal wetlands and hardwood forests, while Fort George Island offers a great opportunity to explore regional history and enjoy beautiful surroundings. Confederate Park has a great dog park, and Treaty Oak at Jesse Ball duPont Park is home to a 70-foot, 250-year-old Southern Live Oak that’s both awe-inspiring and the perfect backdrop for a vacation selfie.
Hidden Gems of Jacksonville
From its beautiful beaches and parks to its art galleries and museums, there’s no shortage of things to do here. But if you want to experience “Jax” like a local, consider adding some attractions that are less touristy to your itinerary. Go see the flocks at the Bird Emergency Aid & Kare Sanctuary (B.E.A.K.S.), which cares for thousands of birds every year at its Big Talbot Island facility, while also hosting educational programs for the public. History lovers enjoy strolling through the city’s Mandarin neighborhood, where Harriot Beacher Stowe once lived, and where many historic structures still exist. Castle Otttis, a structure modeled after an ancient Irish castle, is another gorgeous spot to snap some pics, and it’s also Jacksonville’s only landmark spelled with three “t’s,”
Foodies Have a New Paradise
“Forbes Travel Guide” named Jacksonville one of the “5 Surprising Foodie Cities to Visit Right Now” in 2016. Jax is the largest city in the continental U.S., and its 840 square miles contain some amazing restaurants, including spectacular seafood at “shacks” like North Beach Fish Camp. There are also upscale gems like One Ocean Resort and Spa’s restaurant, Azurea, which boasts oceanfront views and your choice of three preparations for the catch of the day. And that’s just the tip of the culinary iceberg.
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