Jacksonville Florida City Guide
About Jacksonville Florida
The city of Jacksonville is located on the north-east coast of Florida where the St John’s River merges with the Atlantic Ocean. Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and like other cities in the Sunshine State is a favored vacation destination. It is estimated that more than five million book a vacation to Jacksonville annually and the city especially popular with tourists who look to escape the winter chill of the northern states.
Jacksonville like Miami is also equipped with a prominent cruise terminal (Jaxport), which hosts cruise ships that transport vacationers to the Bahamas. Jacksonville, in fact, has much to offer for holidaymakers in the form of nearly 300 days of glorious sunshine, simmering sand beaches, verdant golf courses, historic landmarks, vibrant neighborhoods and an invigorating shopping and nightlife scene.
Where to stay in Jacksonville Florida
Most visitors on a vacation to Jacksonville choose to stay in the downtown area of the city which is traversed by the prominent I-95 highway that runs along the East Coast from Florida to Maine. The downtown neighborhoods of Jacksonville like Southpoint and Baymeadows are equipped with several hotels, chain restaurants and stores, which are popular with tourists and business travelers. Moreover these downtown hotels also offer easy access to Jacksonville’s main beach towns of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach via network of highways.
The three main beach towns of Jacksonville play host to a wide array of mid-range hotels, which see high occupancy rates all throughout the year.
The affluent beach side enclave of Ponte Verde is located close to Jacksonville Beach and offers various luxury accommodation options in the form of old world cottages and condominiums that can reserved be for extended vacations.
Places to see in Jacksonville Florida
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is housed in a private Tudor mansion. The museum’s permanent collection features artworks that date back to 2000BC and include American Impression paintings and other fascinating displays of art from various centuries. The museum also encompasses stunning Italian and English gardens which are located on the banks of the St John’s River.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville is housed in the Western Union Telegraph building. MOCA was inaugurated in 2003 and features five exhibition galleries that host traveling and temporary exhibitions along with the museum’s permanent collection that features artworks by well known artists such as Hans Hoffmann, Joan Mitchell and others. The museum is equipped with an ArtExplorium Loft, interactive exhibits for children, education studios, auditorium, a café and a shop.
The Jacksonville Zoo is located between the Jacksonville Airport and Downtown Jacksonville. This zoo, which is a must-do attraction if you are on vacation in Jacksonville with your children, offers exhibits of native Florida wildlife like red wolves, black bears, Florida panthers, and alligators. In recent years, the zoo’s collection has expanded to include animals like cheetahs, lions, rhinos, antelopes, elephants and other animals that hail from Africa and Central and South America. The Jacksonville zoo is especially well-known for its conservation efforts and its environmentally sensitive ethos.
Jacksonville Landing is a tourist-centric glass and steel complex, which is located on the north bank of the St John’s River. Jacksonville Landing offers 65 stores, many chain and full service restaurants and a food court along with live performances by local artists. The Landing is the epicenter for downtown activity and hosts various events and concerts all throughout the year.
Located opposite the Jacksonville Landing is the Southbank Riverwalk that is 1 ¼ mile long boardwalk. It is popular with joggers, walkers and tourists who seem enjoy the various riverside sights that it offers. The Southbank Riverwalk host prominent landmarks like the Friendship Fountain and the Museum of Science and History of Jacksonville, which offers several interactive exhibits for children along with a small planetarium.
Best time to visit Jacksonville Florida
Jacksonville experiences a humid, subtropical climate which is characterized by hot, humid summers which feature temperatures of more than 110 °F (43.3 °C) at times. In fact the year round temperature in Jacksonville ranges from a warm 64 to a scorching 91 °F (18 to 33 °C). The city like the rest of Florida also experiences a hurricane season that lasts from June to November.
The winters are generally quite mild in Jacksonville however the city does experience ‘hard freezes’ at times during the winter months and has in fact received a sprinkling of snow on two occasions in recent years.
Getting around in Jacksonville Florida
Jacksonville is accessed via its Jacksonville International Airport located 18 miles (29km) north of downtown of the city. The Jacksonville International Airport welcomes a whole host of low cost and regular domestic American carriers as well as a few international carriers. This makes Jacksonville quite accessible from various parts of the country. In fact we at Fare Buzz often announce tempting flight deals for Jacksonville from various cities and if you are in the market for cheap air tickets to Jacksonville, you would do well as to check with Fare Buzz often in order to secure your cheap air flights to Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville International Airport is connected to the city center via taxis and limousine services though many Jacksonville hotels offer shuttle pick-up services for their guests. Jacksonville’s public transport system consists of various modes of transport, which include a local public bus service, the Skyway, an elevated and automated train that serves downtown Jacksonville, the trolley, which also serves downtown Jacksonville and the St John’s commuter ferry that provides connections between Mayport, an Old Florida fishing village and Fort George. Jacksonville’s public transport system also features two taxi cab companies whose taxis can be either called on the phone or hailed on the street.
However the best way to explore the expansive city of Jacksonville is to rent a car for the duration of your stay in Jacksonville. Jacksonville is equipped with outlets of all the major car rental companies in the country and these outlets are located outside Jacksonville airport itself. If however you wish to secure the best car rental rates for your Jacksonville vacation, you would do well as to contact Fare Buzz before you leave for Jacksonville. As we offer a wide array of affordable car rentals for Jacksonville, which can be reserved at the same time that you make your other travel bookings for your Jacksonville vacation.
Where to shop in Jacksonville Florida
If you fancy a bit of retail therapy on your trip to Jacksonville, you will not be disappointed with the city’s choices. Sunny Jacksonville hosts several malls like the upscale, two-level Avenues Mall, the Gateway Town Center (the city’s oldest mall), Roosevelt Square, the River City Marketplace and the Regency Square Mall. The last mentioned mall hosts more than 170 stores and offers various entertainment options for kids like the Sunshine Express train ride, Lunar Mini Golf and a Children’s Play area. These attractions make this shopping destination extremely attractive to visiting families.
One-of-a kind shopping options can be had at other Jacksonville locales, like the Jacksonville Landing, a semi-circular festival marketplace located on the St Johns River in the downtown area of the city. Located within the center are more than forty shops, restaurants and nightclubs. The shopping center also has a central courtyard which is often used for music concerts and serves a play area for kids.
Yet another option worth perusing in Jacksonville is the St Johns Town Center, located on the city’s southside. This open-air shopping plaza is a favorite with the fashion conscious crowd and hosts outposts of well-known retail and department store brands like Abercombie and Fitch, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Bose, Coach and Dillard’s. Also onsite are several dining outlets like California Pizza Kitchen, Cantina Laredo, Chick-Fil-A and Firehosue Subs, which offer shoppers to stop and grab a bite in the midst of their shopping expeditions.
Where to eat in Jacksonville Florida
Downtown Jacksonville and its beaches are littered with numerous good dining spots. However picking the ‘best’ or the ‘top’ restaurants in a destination is a subjective exercise for no two diners have the same tastes. In spite of this aspect, several recent surveys of the ‘best’ eateries in Jacksonville have featured the following restaurants, BB’s (Mediterranean), Aqua Grill and Biscotti’s (both traditional American), Mathew’s Restaurant (New American), The Blue Fish (seafood), Ruth Chris Steak House, JJ Bistro, Dwight’s Bistro and Primi Piatti and Mezza Luna (both offering Italian fare).
Nightlife in Jacksonville Florida
Jacksonville pretty much offers it all in the way of nightlife. From sports bars and cocktail lounges to beachfront bars, comedy clubs, amazing live music venues and thumping dance clubs, visitors looking for entertainment after dark have no shortage of options.
Popular nightlife haunts in Jacksonville currently include The Rogue, Dick’s Wings and Grill, Dos Gatos, Miller’s Ale House, the Elbow, Bukkets Oceanfront Grill, (all bars) Jack Rabbits, Arrielle’s and Freebird live (live music venues) and Square One and Club TSI (dance clubs).