One of my favorite places on the planet is St. Augustine, Florida. It is located on the state’s east coast and on the Atlantic Ocean. Many times when I travel there, it becomes a top priority to avoid large cities and I have taken the bypass around Jacksonville many times because of the size of city. I have done some research on Jacksonville recently, however, and I have decided that the next trip to the Sunshine State just might find me enjoying the countless things to do and places to see in the city.
An added bonus would definitely be exploring the marvelous restaurants of Jacksonville. It is among the country’s 15 largest cities. In 1990 it was ranked 15th in size according to population; it was 14th in population size in the year 2000; and by 2004 was ranked 13th in size.
One of my most vivid memories of Jacksonville was seeing the city from a bridge on the bypass. The moon was appearing extra large that day (it was still daylight!) and I remember thinking that it wasn’t “moon over Miami” but it was just as memorable.
If you enjoy being near water, Jacksonville is situated between the banks of the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. There are an abundance of water sports from which to choose but there are also many beaches if you would rather take in the glorious Florida sunshine instead of doing water sports.
If you have an interest in history, try the Fort Caroline National Memorial near the city. The fort reproduction is maintained and operated by the National Park Service. The site represents the place where the second French colony on the east coast was established in 1564. In September of 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles came to Fort Caroline to take over the fort for Spain, and many French soldiers were killed at this spot.
Whether or not you are traveling with children, you may enjoy a trip to the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens. It has been in operation for over 90 years and it covers seventy acres of land. Some of the most loved parts of the zoo include the giraffes and riding the train. You will be seeing many reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates. The zoo is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily.
If you will be spending any significant amount of time at all in Jacksonville, be sure to spend some of it at the Jacksonville Landing. This is almost like a boardwalk setting with incredible food choices, nightlife, and some of the best shopping in the city. There are dozens of shops, and the “Landing” is found beside the St. Johns River. You may be there at a time when a live concert or festival is taking place for an added bonus.
As long as you are in that dockside area, you may want to try the floating casino cruise. You may want to get dinner before boarding or take advantage of the breakfast or dinner buffet on the ship. A cocktail bar is also offered on the cruise. This gentle journey around the St. Johns River offers all the gaming options that you would find in a major land casino including over 200 slots.
If you are not a gambler, there are other cruises available in Jacksonville that you may want to check out. This is also where the Busch Brewery is located and if you are 21 or over, you can stop by for a tour and free tasting. If you are visiting Jacksonville during the season for sports, there are some Jacksonville teams to catch if they are having a home game.
If you enjoy the performing arts, there are many venues in Jacksonville. There are also numerous art museums, science and history museums, and other types of museums; theaters; and additional places for the performing arts. Some of the theaters offer dinner shows, so be sure to call around for the current show before you decide at which place you want to spend your evening.
You will find many things on your own to do, but a few other ideas are a visit to the American Lighthouse and Maritime Museum followed by seeing the Mayport Lighthouse; the Naval Station Mayport; and the Pablo Historical Park. As a side note, if you are interested in golfing, the well known World Golf Village is located between Jacksonville and St. Augustine.