Situated on Florida’s northeastern coast, Jacksonville has been moving in the right direction for years. Although many people use Jacksonville as a jumping off point for nearby beach attractions, this city is worthy of a weekend vacation in its own right. Whether you’re into fine dining, museums, or wildlife, you’ll find something to keep you entertained on a trip through this mega city. Let’s take a closer look at how to best enjoy a weekend vacation in the “River City.”
Where To Stay In Jacksonville:
Anyone planning on staying in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville should look for hotels along the St James River. Not only will these hotels give you easy access to most of the city’s top tourist draws, but they also have fantastic views and exceptional amenities. One such hotel is the four-star Omni Jacksonville Hotel at 245 Water Street. Another luxury hotel to consider is the four-star Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, which is located at 225 E Coastline Drive. Expect to pay around $130 per night at either of these hotels.
People who want more of a budget-friendly option might want to consider the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson at 5945 Youngerman Circle East. This three-star hotel is not directly on the St James River, but it is close to many restaurants and has high ratings from online reviewers. Rates for rooms at the Country Inn & Suites typically hovers around $90 per night.
What To Do In Jacksonville:
The main attractions in Jacksonville, of course, are the surrounding beaches. The most popular of these beaches include Ponte Vedra Beach, Amelia Island, and Jacksonville Beach, all of which are within a 40-minute drive of central Jacksonville. By the way, if you’re a golfing fanatic, then you must check out the exceptional PGA golf range at the Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts.
One of the most fascinating historical attractions in Jacksonville proper is the Kingsley Plantation. Built in the 18th century, this 32,000-acre plantation once housed 200 slaves who were forced to pick cotton, cut sugar cane, and pick various citrus fruits. On a tour of this facility, you’ll gain a better understanding of northeastern Florida’s past in a pristine natural setting.
Adults traveling to Jacksonville with kids should schedule a few hours at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. This top-rated tourist attraction measures almost 120 acres and contains well over 2,000 exotic mammals, birds, reptiles, and more! You can visit the Jacksonville Zoo between 9 AM – 5 PM on weekdays and on the weekends from 9 AM – 6 PM. Tickets for adults cost just under $20 per person and kids between 3 – 12-years-old could enter for $14.95 each.
If you’re in the mood to see a live show while in Jacksonville, then be sure to check out what’s going on at St Johns River State College’s Thrasher-Horne Center. The Thrasher-Horne Center frequently produces professional Broadway musicals as well as live music, kid-friendly entertainment, and special events. To pre-order tickets, you could visit the Thrasher-Horne Center’s main website at www.thcenter.org.
Where To Eat In Jacksonville:
Unsurprisingly, seafood is Jacksonville’s main culinary specialty. One dive in southern Jacksonville that’s earned quite the reputation for its seafood selection is Clark’s Fish Camp. In addition to this restaurant’s crab cakes and crawfish, Clark’s Fish Camp has earned quite the reputation for its colorful taxidermies and its proximity to a few Florida alligators.
For fine dining in Jacksonville, take a look at the menu at Restaurant Orsay. Modeled on a Parisian bistro, the Restaurant Orsay mainly serves French-inspired seafood dishes with a Southern flair. A few of the most famous entrées at Restaurant Orsay include the lobster pot pie, Carolina trout, and bouillabaisse. Restaurant Orsay also has an extensive wine and cocktail menu as well as a raw bar.
In the mood for some Southern BBQ? If so, then look no further than Jacksonville’s Southern Charm. There’s nothing fancy about this restaurant; here you’ll find huge portions of finger-licking good Southern specialties like fried chicken, BBQ ribs, and fried shrimp served buffet style. Just be sure to bring a big appetite if you’re planning on visiting this restaurant.=
Lastly, no list of Jacksonville restaurants is complete without mentioning the highly-reviewed Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse. As the name suggests, this chain restaurant is best known for its Latin-inspired steaks, but waiters will also bring plenty of other fire-roasted meats and seafood straight to your table. Customers at Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse also enjoy unlimited access to a gourmet salad and hot bar.