Jacksonville, FL is one of those cities that is often ignored by those visiting the state of Florida. Perched in the Northeastern corner of the state, it’s easy to miss, or worse, blow it off as just another city to go speeding by. This is especially true when travelers have their sites set on the theme park Mecca that is Orlando, the decadence of Miami, or the tranquility of the Gulf Coast. Well I’m here to tell you that Jacksonville is definitely a city not to be missed. What makes it special is the fact that it has a little bit of something to offer every traveler making Jacksonville Florida’s “Jax of all trades”
Being a Florida native, Jacksonville, FL has always been one of those cities that I’ve only stopped at on my way in or out of the state, and more often than not, just used as a landmark to know that I’m almost out of the state. After spending some time there though, I’ve learned that Jacksonville has a lot to offer for those looking for the quintessential Florida experience, as well as sporting it’s own unique vibe and culture. With over 1350 miles of coastline, Florida’s biggest draw is it’s warm sandy beaches, and Jacksonville certainly has its fair share.
If you are looking for a more urban adventure then Jacksonville is a considerably large city and has a beautiful downtown areas with some lovely architecture.
There was also some unexpected and beautiful street art.
If you really want to explore the city in depth, a “top to bottom tour” is one way to go. We took the tour and learned quite a bit about the city’s history and architecture.
If you’re more into the fine arts, The Cummer Museum features a lovely collection of artwork and historical artifacts.
The worst kept secret in town though, are the beautiful “private” gardens featured at the museum.
If you are visiting the museum, you should also drop in to Memorial Park for some lovely views of the St. Johns River.
Jacksonville also has quite a bit of history. Ft. George Island featured the state’s first golf course, amongst other things, and is now a lovely preserve where you can kayak or take a cool Segway tour.
It’s also home to the Kingsley Plantation, which is the state’s oldest remaining plantation home.
On top of art, culture, and history, Jacksonville sports a pretty respectable food scene. From the causal and creative TacoLu to the Upscale North Beach Fish Camp, there’s something to please every pallet.
Of course you know us ramblers can’t have food without beer and once again Jax has every base covered. If you are looking for a chill craft brewery Intuition Ale Works is definitely where it’s at.
However, if your tastes are a bit more conservative, you should definitely check out the Budweiser Beer School, or at minimum stop in for a tour and a free tasting.
If you’re an animal lover the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens should definitely be on your list of must-visit attractions. They feature a wide variety of animals and have an impressive 2.5 acre tiger enclosure that’s absolutely one of a kind.
The zoo also shows off some of their own beautiful gardens, while also taking advantage of their waterfront.
Oh and did I forget to mention that Jacksonville was also pet friendly? Not only are there lots of pet friendly hotels (we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton and the Holiday Inn Express) but lots of restaurants have patios that will welcome four legged friends. What takes the cake though was Dog Wood Park. At over 40 acres this was more like a doggy playground than park.
With everything from Fine Arts to Fine Dining and activities for the Beach Bum to the Beer Nerds you can see why after spending a few days in this Florida Gem, we’ve taken to calling Jacksonville the “Jax of all trades.”
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