Jacksonville

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Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Florida North Florida Jacksonville

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Introduction

Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida based on population, and the largest city by area in Florida and the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968. Consolidation gave Jacksonville its great size and placed most of its metropolitan population within the city limits; with a population of 827,908, it is the most populous city proper in Florida and the Southeast, and the eleventh most populous in the United States. Jacksonville is the principal city in the Greater Jacksonville Metropolitan Area, with a population of 1,345,596 in 2010.

Bisected by the St. Johns River and flanked by four oceanfront barrier islands, Jacksonville is very much an aquatic city. Its string of beautiful beaches include undeveloped Hanna Park, idyllic Atlantic Beach, quiet Neptune Beach, lively Jacksonville Beach, and swanky Ponte Vedra Beach, all located on a long barrier island south of the St. Johns River. North of the St. Johns River, the Jacksonville city limits also encompass Fort George, Little Talbot, and Big Talbot Islands, all boasting city or state operated beach parks.

Downtown Jacksonville, a dozen miles inland, is split by the St. Johns River, which is crossed by a handful of distinctive bridges. Modern glassy skyscrapers and scenic riverwalks also line both banks of the river. Aside from the two riverwalks, other downtown attractions include the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, the Museum of Science & History (MOSH), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Friendship Fountain, water taxis, and the Jacksonville Landing entertainment and dining complex. The arena, the riverfront Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, and the historic Florida Theater also provide the stages for a wide variety of national and international music acts and theatrical performances.

Despite being the United States' eleventh largest city in population, ecotourism is a draw as Jacksonville boasts the nation's largest urban park system. Key nature areas include the expansive Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, which encompasses much of the city's northeastern quadrant. Two historically significant sites, Fort Caroline National Memorial and Kingsley Plantation, are located within the bounds of this preserve. The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens offers the city's coolest network of trails, and the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens has a continually expanding showcase of animal and plant species that make it suitable to be counted among the finest zoos in the Southeastern United States. Of course, for outdoor recreation, Jacksonville's warm climate makes the area a popular place for fishing, boating, sailing, surfing, kayaking, kite boarding, golf, and tennis as well. The World Golf Hall of Fame is even located just south of the city, and the Tournament Players Championship is played by professional golfers at Sawgrass, near Ponte Vedra Beach.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Centre - Downtown Riverfront (Northbank and Southbank).
  • East/South of the St. Johns River - San Marco, San Jose/Epping Forest, Mandarin, Baymeadows, Deerwood/Southside, Arlington, Fort Caroline/East Arlington, San Pablo/Intracoastal West, Beaches, Mayport.

West/North of the St. Johns River - Riverside/Avondale, Murray Hill, Ortega, Oak Leaf, Argyle, Westside, Marietta, Whitehouse, Ribault, Oceanway, Northside.

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Sights and Activities

Beaches

North to South: Big Talbot Island State Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Hugenot Park, Hanna Park, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Mickler's Landing, Guana River State Park

Museums

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Museum of Science & History (MOSH), Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), World Golf Hall of Fame, Fort Caroline National Memorial, Kingsley Plantation.

Sports

The city's sports complex is also located immediately east of downtown's Northbank business district. Here, Everbank Field plays home to the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville boasts the AA Jacksonville Suns, and the Veterans Memorial Arena hosts the Jacksonville Sharks arena football team, Jacksonville Giants ABA basketball team, and the Jacksonville University Dolphins NCAA basketball team.

Zoos/Animal Centers

Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, Catty Shack Ranch, B.E.A.K.S. (bird rehabilitation center), St. Augustine Alligator Farm (45 minutes south), Marineland Dolphin Adventure (1 hour south).

Other Sights and Activities

Northbank Riverwalk/Jacksonville Landing, Southbank Riverwalk/Friendship Fountain, Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Adventure Landing & Shipwreck Island Water Park, Sally Industries Tour (animatronics for amusement parks), Tree Hill Nature Center, UNF Nature Trails, St. Johns Town Center, St. Johns River Ferry, water taxis.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

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Weather

Jacksonville has a humid subtropical climate, with hot and wet summers, and mild and drier winters. Seasonal rainfall is concentrated in the warmest months from May through September, when brief but intense downpours with thunder and lightning are common, while the driest months are from November through April. Rainfall averages around 1,300 mm a year.

Mean monthly temperatures range from around 12 °C in January to 28 °C in July. High temperatures average 18 to 33 °C throughout the year. The highest temperature recorded was 40 °C on July 11, 1879 and July 28, 1872. It is common for thunderstorms to erupt during a typical summer afternoon. These are caused by the rapid heating of the land relative to the water, combined with extremely high humidity.

The city of Jacksonville averages only about 10 to 15 nights at or below freezing. Such cold weather is usually short lived. The coldest temperature recorded at Jacksonville International Airport was -14 °C on January 21, 1985. Jacksonville has recorded three days with measurable snow since 1911, most recently 2.5 cm snowfall in December 1989 and flurries in December 2010.

Jacksonville has only received one direct hit from a hurricane since 1871. The rarity of direct strikes is attributed to chance. However, the city has experienced hurricane or near-hurricane conditions more than a dozen times due to storms crossing the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, or passing to the north or south in the Atlantic and brushing past the area. The strongest effect on Jacksonville was from Hurricane Dora in 1964, the only recorded storm to hit the First Coast with sustained hurricane-force winds. The eye crossed St. Augustine with winds that had just barely diminished to 180 km/h, making it a strong Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. In 1979, Hurricane David passed offshore by 40 miles, bringing winds around 95 miles per hour. Hurricane Floyd in 1999 caused damage mainly to Jacksonville Beach; the Jacksonville Beach pier was severely damaged and later demolished.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max17.9 °C19.4 °C22.8 °C26.2 °C29.3 °C31.8 °C33 °C32.6 °C30.7 °C26.8 °C23.1 °C19.3 °C
Avg Min4.7 °C6.3 °C9.6 °C12.7 °C16.7 °C20.6 °C22.2 °C22.1 °C20.6 °C15.2 °C10.1 °C6.3 °C
Rainfall84.1 mm99.8 mm93.5 mm70.4 mm90.2 mm144.5 mm142.2 mm201.4 mm179.1 mm73.7 mm55.6 mm69.1 mm
Rain Days7.36.66.75.16.610.611.612.410.15.94.95.9

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Getting There

By Plane

Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) offers flights to/from Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, New York City, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Boston, Baltimore, San Juan, Birmingham, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Nashville, Norfolk, Las Vegas, Newark, Tampa, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Philadelphia.

By Train

The Silver Service/Palmetto, operated by Amtrak, travels between New York and Jacksonville.

By Bus

Greyhound, 1111 W Forsyth St Jacksonville, FL 32204. 24 hours. Greyhound offers service west to Tallahassee and New Orleans, south to Orlando and Miami, and north to Charleston and New York, as well as to regional destinations such as St. Augustine and Lake City.
Megabus, 1100 West Forsyth St. To and from trips for the cities of Atlanta, Daytona Beach and Orlando. Once daily for Daytona and 3 times daily for Atlanta and for Orlando. Bus fares vary with day of the week. The bus stop is located at the Jacksonville Skyway Convention Center Station. The stop will be at the last loading bay which is closest to Johnson St.

By Boat

JAXPORT Cruise Terminal, 9810 August Dr, ☎ +1 904 357-3006. Jacksonville departures offers travelers a taste of a different kind of Florida city, before setting sail to more traditional destinations like Key West and the Bahamas. Low airfare and economical accommodations have made cruises from Jacksonville a popular choice. The Port of Jacksonville operates several facilities along the St. Johns River. It is the second largest point of entry for vehicles into the United States along with housing an active cruise terminal.

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Getting Around

Jacksonville is sprawling with most of the city's more popular destinations not within walking distance of each other, with the exception of the city center. There, monorail service is free and connects the north and south banks of the river, offering travelers a great view of the city and an easy route to their destination. Most travelers to Jacksonville will want to venture out, see the beaches, shop and dine in its commercial districts, or visit historical sites and parks. This would be impossible or greatly hindered without a car. Unless you are planning on remaining at the beaches or the downtown area it can be time consuming to travel by bus, and too expensive by taxi.

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) operates the Skyway monorail system in the heart of Jacksonville, and a fairly extensive regional bus network. Rosa Parks Transit Station is the main transfer hub between systems. Nearly all bus lines, and both lines of the Skyway stop at Rosa Parks.

The Skyway is a free automated people-mover system in downtown Jacksonville. Eight stations are located throughout the Northbank, Southbank, and LaVilla districts. The system is open to commuters M-F 6AM to 9PM. Extended hours vary with special events, check JTA's website if you are planning on traveling in downtown during the weekend.

Bus frequency is between 30 minutes and an hour. Buses are reasonably comfortable, but JTA buses struggle with on-time performance. Buses do not run past midnight, and many bus routes stop running at around 8 or 9PM. All buses are linked via GPS to a central control system and stops are well-marked throughout the entire city.

By Bike

Biking has become a popular means of getting around in some of Jacksonville's central neighborhoods and districts, such as Riverside, Avondale, Murray Hill, San Marco, and downtown. Starting in Riverside, you can walk or bike down the Riverwalk to the Main St. Bridge, in downtown. Ride or walk over the bridge to access San Marco and its many shops and restaurants. Biking is a great way to enjoy the urban core's varied and beautiful architecture which is so easy to miss by car.

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Eat

  • BB's, 1019 Hendricks Ave, ☎ +1 904 306-0100. This restaurant has good appetizers, desserts, and a good beer and wine selection. The mushroom and bacon pizza is wonderful. The food is great, but it can get somewhat loud; not the place to go for a quiet conversation.
  • Brick Coffee House, 214 N. Hogan St (Ed Ball Building Adams St Entrance), ☎ +1 904 354-9945.
  • Burrito Gallery, 21 East Adams St. (between Main and Ocean), ☎ +1 904 598-2922, e-mail: eat@burritogallery.com. This restaurant has become an integral part of Jacksonville's art scene. Rotating exhibits keep the atmosphere fresh while the kitchen keeps your belly full. $8-10.
  • The Candy Apple Cafe, 400 North Hogan St., ☎ +1 904 353-9717.
  • Chamblin's Uptown Cafe, 215 N. Laura St. (between Adams and Monroe), ☎ +1 904 674-0870. Good vegetarian selection.
  • Chomp Chomp (Chomp2), 106 W Adams St. (between Ocean and Newnan), ☎ +1 904 762-4667. A small eat-in with a diverse menu. $6-8.
  • Indochine, 21 E Adams St, ☎ +1 904 598-5303.
  • Jenkins Quality Barbecue, 830 Pearl St (between State and Union), ☎ +1 904 353-6388, e-mail: info@jenkinsqualitybarbecue.com.
  • The Magnificat Cafe, 231 N Laura St, ☎ +1 904 353-3588. French cuisine.
  • Olio, 301 E. Bay St (corner of Market and Bay), ☎ +1 904 356-7100.
  • Pho A Noodle Bar, 117 West Adams St. (between Hogan and Laura), ☎ +1 904 353-0320.
  • Super Food and Brew, 11 E. Forsyth St (corner of Forsyth and Main), ☎ +1 904 723-1180, e-mail: info@superfoodandbrew.com.
  • Zodiac Bar and Grill, 120 W. Adams St (between Laura and Hogan), ☎ +1 904 354-8283, e-mail: zodiacgrill120@gmail.com. Mediterranean cuisine
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House, 1201 Riverplace Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207, ☎ +1 904 396-6200. 5PM-10PM (9PM on Sundays). Corn-fed, custom-aged Midwestern beef in a lively atmosphere, complete with beautiful views of the St. John's River and a happening bar area.

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Drink

  • 1904 Music Hall, 19 N. Ocean St. (between Bay and Forsyth), e-mail: Booking@1904musichall.com. Beer and wine only. It does offer great local music and a great atmosphere.
  • Dos Gatos, 123 E. Forsyth St., ☎ +1 904 354-0666. Full bar. A nice place to dress up and go out to. Great selection of cocktails.
  • Underbelly, 113 E. Bay St., ☎ +1 904 699-8186, e-mail: booking@underbellylive.com.
  • Downtown Cigar Lounge, 11 N. Ocean St., ☎ +1 904 353-4411, e-mail: info@downtowncigarlounge.com.
  • The Volstead, 115 West Adams St., ☎ +1 904 414-3171.
  • Mavericks, 2 Independent Drive, ☎ +1 904 356-1110.
  • Burro Bar, 100 E. Adams St.

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Sleep

  • Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach, 1101 Beach Blvd, ☎ +1 904 435-3000. New hotel, including 32" flat panel televisions, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi.

Springhill Suites Jacksonville Airport, 13550 Airport Ct, toll-free: +1-866-599-8636. An all-suite hotel property. Free hot breakfast, courtesy airport shuttle and free Wi-Fi.

  • Residence Inn Jacksonville Butler Boulevard, 10551 Deerwood Park, ☎ +1 904 996-8900. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Offers extended stay accommodations with full size kitchens. Complimentary hot breakfast buffet and free WiFi provided.
  • SpringHill Suites Jacksonville, 4385 Southside Blvd, ☎ +1 904 997-6650. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11PM. All suite accommodations offering free Internet and hot buffet breakfast daily.
  • Amelia Island Surf & Racquet Club, 4800 Amelia Island Parkway (Amelia Island), ☎ +1 904 261-0511, toll-free: +1-800-323-2001. Resort with condo rentals, oceanfront views, family vacations.
  • One Ocean Resort, One Ocean Blvd, Atlantic Beach, ☎ +1 904 249-7402, toll-free: +1-800-874-6000, e-mail: sales@oneoceanresort.com. Atlantic Beach Hotel at the Jacksonville Beaches offers a turn-down service, oceanfront views and wireless Internet.
  • Courtyard Jacksonville Mayo Clinic/Beaches, 14390 Mayo Blvd (On the campus of the Mayo Clinic), ☎ +1 904 223-1700. Features a state-of-the-art lobby and stylish guest rooms. $109-120.
  • Residence Inn Jacksonville Baymeadows, 8365 Dix Ellis Trail, ☎ +1 904 733-8088. Offers spacious suites with full kitchens, living areas and separate bedrooms, complimentary breakfast each morning and high-speed Internet access.
  • The Riverdale Inn (Adjacent to Memorial Park). Another beautiful B&B in Riverside, this one has a renowned restaurant.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront, 1201 Riverplace Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207, ☎ +1 904 398-8800, toll-free: +1-800-593-5690. Nestled in the downtown area on the south bank of St. John's River, DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront has completed a $12 million renovation, emerging with 293 sophisticated accommodations, various dining options, including Ruth's Chris Steak House, a new business zone to keep corporate travelers linked in, an expanded Precor fitness center and large riverfront pool and sundeck.
  • The Elizabeth Pointe Lodge (On the beach at Amelia Island). Bed & breakfast amenities.
  • Marriott Sawgrass Beach Resort. Home of the Players Championship, on the beach.
  • Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts, 200 Ponte Vedra Blvd.. Historic - open since 1928. Rated a 5 Diamond resort by AAA. Features four challenging golf courses, tennis facilities, swimming pools, luxury shops, and fine dining restaurants on site.

View our map of accommodation in Jacksonville or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Learn

The aforementioned Jacksonville University (private), the much larger University of North Florida (state), and the variety of campuses that make up Florida State College (community college) are among the many options available for pursuing higher education in Jacksonville.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 30.332184
  • Longitude: -81.655651

Accommodation in Jacksonville

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Jacksonville searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Jacksonville and areas nearby.

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This is version 28. Last edited at 10:22 on Jan 9, 19 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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