Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Trip When Visiting Jacksonville, Florida
The River City
Hidden Gems in Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville is one of those places that you cannot judge just by looking at her from a quick glance. She makes you work to unveil a lot of the hidden gems that many of the residents have grown to love. I think that is a good thing because it encourages you to dig deep and to keep your eyes open for new things happening and fresh places to explore.
Even after years of living in Jacksonville, many residents still find they have not discovered all the diamonds that lie in the nooks and crannies of what makes up the River City. This may also be because new places are popping up constantly!
Riverside: One of Jacksonville's Treasures
Jacksonville, FL: An Affordable and Unique Travel Destination
I am one of those long-time residents still discovering all the hidden pieces that make J-ville worth getting to know. I have grown to love this city more as I grow older and I suppose, wiser. Jacksonville has a lot of potential and much to offer.
I thought it would be worth sharing for anyone considering a travel destination that is unique and affordable. I believe you will get your money's worth visiting Jacksonville, especially with some tips on places to explore and ways to prepare for your visit!
Grab Some Sunglasses For Your Jacksonville Trip
Snapshot of Jacksonville, FL: My Favorite Things About the River City
Why should I visit Jacksonville? What's in it for me?
Allow me to satisfy your curiosity. Let's dive right into the many reasons why I have love for my hometown. Here are some of my favorite things I enjoy about the city and reasons you should tour the New Bold City of the South:
- Warm weather
- Sunny, blue skies
- Water...everywhere - perfect for water-lovers
- Plenty of beautiful scenery
- Parks: Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the USA
- Free events
- Traffic is not as bad as other big cities
- Big city but maintains a small-town feel (Jacksonville has the largest land mass in the nation - over 800 square miles)
- Interesting history
- Close to other great tourist attractions and cities (Daytona Beach, Orlando, St.Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach, Amelia Island)
Jacksonville, Home to Art, Gardens, Beautiful SceneryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Trip to Jacksonville, FL
Have you ever been to Jacksonville?
Bring An Open Mind and A Sense of Adventure
Now that I am a wife and a parent, I have discovered that Jacksonville has plenty to offer when it comes to things to do. I like that there are so many places I have yet to experience here because that means more things to uncover! A lot of activities are affordable and places like museums and the zoo, offer discounts and free admission on certain days. Check in advance before you go!
Jacksonville has plenty if you do your research, are willing to try new things and have an open mind!
Suggestions on places, events and things to do when you visit:
- Water recreational activities: surfing, fishing, boating, jet skiing
- Parks/nature trails/playgrounds: A few popular ones and some of my favorites are Memorial Park, Riverside Park, Tree Hill Nature Center, Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, Mandarin Park, Stinson Park, 9A Baymeadows Regional Park, Boone Park, Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park (has nature trails, lakes, beach and camping)
- Museums: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens, Fire Museum, Museum of Science and History (MOSH), Museum of Southern History, Maritime Museum
- Art/Crafts: Riverside Arts Market (RAM), Art Walk (Downtown and Beaches both hold one once a month) - admission is always free to these events, CoRK Arts District, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: has nationwide recognition; recently opened attraction- Land of the Tiger
- Entertainment: Latitude 30 (bowling, movie theater, dining, game room, private party and events room), Dave and Busters (games, dining, private party room), Chuck E. Cheese (children's games, parties, dining), Adventure Landing (mini golf, laser tag, games, parties, dining), comedy shows (The Comedy Zone, Comedy Club of Jacksonville)
- Movies/Theaters: Cinegrille (located inside Latitude 30), Sun-Ray Cinema, San Marco Theater, Florida Theatre, Alhambra Dinner Theatre, Tinseltown, AMC 24 Movie Theaters, Regal Cinemas, Hollywood River City 14, free movies in the park and beach (usually during summer season)
- Sports: Home to Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacksonville Sharks, Jacksonville Suns, Jacksonville Giants
- Concerts/Music: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Florida Theatre, Murray Hill Theatre, Freebird Live, Jack Rabbits and other various bars, restaurants and smaller venues
- Shopping: St.John's Town Center, Five Points in Riverside area, Avondale Shopping District, San Marco Square, Avenues Mall, Orange Park Mall, River City Marketplace, Oak Hill Village Shopping Center
- Other events/things to do: Painting parties (Painting With a Twist, Yes You Canvas), fairs, carnivals, festivals, bowling, karaoke (Monkey's Uncle, Austin's Karaoke, other bars), Catty Shack Ranch, Jacksonville Landing (offers dining, shopping, entertainment-bands/concerts)
Many places here, including, restaurants, zoo, museums, theaters and entertainment, offer free or discounted admission on certain days. Just check in advance so you can plan accordingly. The site, Jax4kids.com offers plenty of information on family-friendly things to do all around town.
Jacksonville: Home to Various Parks and Nature TrailsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bring Your Appetite! Check Out These Places to Eat in Jacksonville:
Metro Diner (American)
Biscottis (European, Modern American)
Bold Bean Coffee Roasters
Sweet Theory (Vegan, Gluten-free, Allergy-free)
The Fox Restaurant (American)
Black Sheep (American)
Cool Moose Cafe and Bistro (American)
Tres Leche (Spanish)
Tres Leche (Spanish)
Cool Moose Cafe
French Pantry (French, bakery)
Restuarant Orsay (French, dinner only)
Maple Stree Biscuit Company (American)
River City Brewing Co. (Seafood, American)
Coffee Roasters of Florida
Black Sheep (Contemporary American)
Bowl of Pho (Vietnamese)
River City Brewing Co. (Seafood, American)
Chomp Chomp (chef-inspired street food)
Biscottis (European, Modern American)
Kickbacks Gastropub (Modern American)
13 Gypsies (Spanish, Tapas)
Matthews Restaurant (American)
Hawkers Asian Street Fare (Asian Fusion, Tapas)
Burrito Gallery (Mexican)
Casbah Cafe (Mediterranean, Hookah Lounge)
Jacksonville: Home to Assorted FoodClick thumbnail to view full-size
Jacksonville Food Trucks
Food trucks are also a fun way to experience food here in Jacksonville. There are multiple food trucks that are part of events, daily lunch and dinner around town. Visit eatdrinkjax.com to learn more. Track them down for good food when you are in town!
Jacksonville: Home to Beaches, Sun and Sand
Bring Proper Attire and Accessories
Leave your heavy coats at home! Most likely, especially when you are here March-December, you will not need it. The weather here is typically warm year-round. We do get a breeze coming in from the water that surrounds our city, including the St.Johns River, (which stretches for 310 miles), so you will be certain to see it flowing through the city and the cool breeze usually sweeps in with it. The multiple beaches also offer some solace from the sunny weather. Parks are scattered in abundance throughout the city, too and many of them have a view of the river and a wealth of trees for shade.
You can make a nice vacation just hanging out at the parks and beaches.
Here are some tips on things to wear and bring to prepare for a visit in this town:
Other Useful Items
Shorts and comfortable clothes
Sandals, flip flops
Water bottles, drink canisters
Blankets, mats for grass/sand (for park/beach)
Light sweater or light jacket
Sundress, black dress, nice blouse for a nice dinner or bars, clubs (women)
Dress shirt and slacks, blazer for nice dinner, bars, clubs (men)
Rain coat, rain boots (we get hit every now and then with bipolar Florida weather where rain will come and go)
Jacksonville: Home to Historic Five Points, Avondale and San MarcoClick thumbnail to view full-size
Interested in Ghosts and Pirates? Something Else to Explore in Jax!
Jacksonville: Home to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Bring Your Camera and Capture Memories
Photography is one of my hobbies and I have grown addicted to taking pictures since having children.
A favorite thing about Jacksonville for me now is the many photo-opportunities that you can find here. From the Downtown skyline, beaches, river, lakes, creeks, parks, buildings and to the lesser known, tiny spaces...the scene of opportunities are almost endless. So, bring a good camera and snap away while you explore Jacksonville!
Visit the site, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for more details and events at the zoo.
Stop by my blog to see and learn more about things to do in Jacksonville, FL
- B is for...: Adventures and Discoveries
Places to go, eat and activities to do that are family-friendly. Many of these are free or affordable.
More Information About One Spark
Jacksonville: Home to One Spark, World's First Crowdfunding Festival
Something extremely unique to Jacksonville is the huge crowdfunding festival: One Spark. The first one was held last year and this year, it is being held again in April (9-13). It is a festival hosted in Downtown Jacksonville, occupying a 20 square block to showcase the passions of innovators, entrepreneurs, artists and musicians.
The festival's goals are to connect creators' ideas with resources. These creators will be highlighting their craft whether it be art, science, technology or music. Whatever their craft or project may be, this event provides them the opportunity to demonstrate what they are ultimately "creating" to gain support through funds from the public and through investors that will be a part of this momentous event.
You do not need to attend physically to vote. You can register to vote and donate online to the creators you wish to support. During the festival, there will be plenty of entertainment, food and after parties, as well. A win-win for all who come to share, experience and connect!
Read more about One Spark here.
Enjoy Nightlife and Sports in J-VilleClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bring Your Family, Friends or Special Someone
Traveling is always better when you can share the experience with others. There are many cities where it is best to leave the kids and elderly parents or grandparents at home. Not Jacksonville - bring those youngsters and oldies on over! I love the fact that there are plenty of free and discounted activities for young children and older folk.
Bring your friends and significant other, too. Enjoy a nice day or night out. Jacksonville has an array of bars, wine bars, lounges, clubs and evening events for a fun night out with good friends or a romantic evening with that special someone.
Here are some websites that provide more details on events and places to go around town:
Read More About Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville: Home to Photogenic ViewsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Jacksonville: My Home ...and Maybe Your Next Vacation Stop?
Sometimes, I want to take a trip to a place that is not bustling with the normal tourist crowds nor spend a lot to see expensive attractions. If you feel the same, Jacksonville may be the place to visit!
Your city and your travel destination is what you make it. Jacksonville is a city that can feel more like home but can still make for an interesting, valuable vacation, even if it is just while you are passing through on the way to St. Augustine or Orlando. Discover the hidden gems here - grab a bite to eat, check out some free events or visit a museum or the zoo.
Remember, if you want a good value-priced travel destination that has something for everyone, this is the place to go ... without having to spend much!
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