2021 Jacksonville Visitors Guide
Jacksonville is one of Florida’s major industrial, commercial and cultural centers, and offers sun-soaked conditions year-round. Recreational opportunities abound in Jacksonville, with water sports, fishing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding being some of the more popular activities. Headquarters of the Professional Golf Association (PGA), Jacksonville is the home and training ground for many famous golfers. The Jacksonville Zoological Gardens is an example of an ecologically aware zoo. The city’s Museum of Science and History has a fascinating display on manatees and dolphins, as well as a Civil War collection. Held in early April, Jacksonville’s annual Springing the Blues Festival attracts visitors with live performances, barbeque and seafood, kids activities and arts and crafts.
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
The collection at Cummer Museum has grown from 60 pieces upon opening in 1961 to now include approximately 8000 years of art history. The formal gardens encompass two acres and include English-style and Italian gardens. Tours are available.
Address: 829 Riverside Ave | Jacksonville, FL | 32204. Telephone: 1 904 356-6857
Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (MOSH)
This popular museum is located across from downtown Jacksonville on the Southbank, near Friendship Fountain. It is a favorite among children, who enjoy the hands-on exhibits and shows in the Alexander Brest Planetarium. On the first floor is “Kidspace”, a separate area for children under age 4, which includes a mock tree playhouse, a water table, and many live science experiments. Other MOSH exhibits include local Civil War history, Native American tribes and ecology of the St. Johns River. Other exhibits change regularly. Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History features exhibits and hands-on displays that include the Civil War, ocean life, Florida history and more. The museum also includes a planetarium that offers shows regularly. Address: 1025 Museum Circle | Jacksonville, FL | 32207-9053. Telephone: 1 904 396-6674
Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art (JMOMA)
Opens Tuesday to Sunday, JMOMA has been hosting art exhibitions and galleries since 1928. This museum showcases a large collection of modern artwork from the 20th century. Address: 333 North Laura St. | Jacksonville, FL | 32202. Telephone: 1 904 366-6911
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve protect 46,000 acres of unspoiled coastal wetlands-one of the last such regions on the Atlantic Coast. Also preserved here are historic and prehistoric sites.
Tree Hill Nature Center
Tree Hill was founded in the 1970s to provide environmental awareness and education to the public. A series of exhibits are displayed in the museum. The gardens feature butterflies, hummingbirds, herbs, organic vegetables, and a bog garden. Swamps, gardens and nature trails can be enjoyed throughout the park. Address: 7152 Lone Star Road | Jacksonville, FL | 32211. Telephone: 1 904 724-4646
Fort Clinch State Park
This state park is located on the northern end of Amelia Island in Nassau County. Its 1,153 acres include a brick and masonry fort begun in 1847 but never completed. Today park rangers in Union uniforms teach visitors about the history of the fort and the area’s part in the Civil War. Daylight and candlelit tours are available. The park also includes picnic grounds, campsites and a fishing pier.
Kingsley Plantation is the oldest plantation house in the state of Florida, built in 1792. The plantation, located on Fort George Island, was owned by eccentric slave trader Zephaniah Kingsley from 1813 to 1839 and produced crops of cotton, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits. The main lodge and remains of 23 slave cabins are visible.
Jacksonville Zoological Park and Gardens
Jacksonville’s 61-acre zoo has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, taking it from ordinary to extraordinary. While some improvements continue, a majority of the construction is done, including a raised boardwalk that provides great views of the animals in open habitats. The zoo features over 800 animals, including giraffes, zebras, lions, and rhinos. The zoo boasts a large elephant exhibit, with a swimming pool, which is a favorite play spot of baby Rani, the female elephant born at the zoo in 1997. One of the newer exhibits is Great Apes of the World, where zoo officials hope to develop several families of apes. The petting zoo, outdoor aviary, and miniature train are popular attractions. The zoo also includes picnic grounds, several restaurants, and a gift shop.
Beaches Near Jacksonville
First Coast Beaches
Just 12 miles east of Jacksonville are what locals refer to as “The Beaches” – Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach. The First Coast’s Beaches stretch for more than 50 miles along the Atlantic coast from Amelia Island to St. Augustine. From J.T. Butler Blvd., SR A1A follows the picturesque coast south through the towns of Ponte Vedra, South Ponte Vedra Beach, and Vilano Beach, to St. Augustine. Going North, A1A passes through Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach. Here, a Ferry Boat connects A1A with Fort George’s Island and the road continues on up to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. This scenic route affords access to many state parks, white sand public beaches, historic sites, shops, bars, and restaurants.
Atlantic Beach is a fully developed residential community featuring oceanfront homes that are a mix of early 1900s New England-style wood shingle frame houses and more modern pricey construction. Home prices vary depending on proximity to the beach. Beach access is maintained on many streets that run into the ocean.
Where Neptune and Atlantic beaches meet, referred to by locals as “The Corner”, are some of the most popular restaurants, including a brewery, and entertainment spots residents love to frequent. Along Atlantic Blvd. and A1A is an abundance of restaurants, strip malls, hotels, and Churches. Neptune Beach shares many of the same attributes of Atlantic Beach. Many of the oceanfront homes that line the beach are rented for summer months. Like Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach is fully developed with some light retail services located mainly along A1A. Home prices vary again according to the proximity to the ocean.
Jacksonville Beach is the oldest and, with a population of more than 20,000, the largest of Duval County beach communities. It has a greater mix of residential, commercial, retail and industrial areas than other areas of the beaches. Much of the beach’s commercial area is located on Third Street and while the bustling business environment adds to the atmosphere and economic well-being of the city, it offers a myriad of shopping, dining and entertainment options. Activities abound in Jacksonville Beach; various festivals and fairs take place in the downtown area where you can find professional and semi-professional volleyball tournaments on the beach; and of course, cycling, surfing, windsurfing, beachcombing and sunbathing are favorites for those who find the easy beach access appealing. South Jacksonville Beach, just north of J. Turner Butler Boulevard on A1A, offers a calm residential atmosphere and although beach access is more limited there are those who prefer this area just for that reason.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Nestled in the northeast corner of St. John’s County, just south of Jacksonville Beach, is the growing community of Ponte Vedra Beach, convenient to both Jacksonville and St. Augustine. From the beautiful Ponte Vedra Boulevard, lined with trees, to the natural marshlands alongside A1A, to the sea coast covered sand dunes and white sandy beaches, Ponte Vedra is a beautiful blend of neighborhoods and nature. The community is able to retain its remarkably attractive neighborhoods stretching along five miles of oceanfront and lagoons, through carefully preserved zoning regulations. Some of the area’s most beautiful homes line the ocean along Ponte Vedra and South Ponte Vedra beaches. Well, known are neighborhood communities like Marsh Landing, Sawgrass and The Plantation which offer an outstanding lifestyle with affordable elegant homes and home sites. Locations are available on the Intracoastal Waterway, tucked among the natural marshes, or along the many lagoons and lakes in this area. Many new apartment communities have been built in this area during the last few years. The posh resorts of the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and Lodge at Ponte Vedra boast coveted four-star and four-diamond awards year after year for accommodations, service, food, and ambiance. Point Vedra is the home of the International headquarters for both the PGA (Professional Golf Association) TOUR and the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). Annual golf and tennis tournaments attract thousands of fans and professionals to the spring events. Among the Internationally acclaimed clubs offering more than 150 holes of golf, 60 tennis courts and miles of secluded beaches is the Tournament Players Club with its well-known Stadium course. In addition to the beautiful neighborhoods and sports attractions, this area offers fine dining, unique and exclusive shopping as well as shopping centers offering an array of services and entertainment options. Unless you own one of the homes along the oceanfront or belong to one of the resorts and country clubs along the ocean, beach access is very limited.
The Avenues Mall, Jacksonville’s newest mall is located at the intersection of I-95 South and U.S. 1.
Regency Squares Mall, in the Arlington area, is one of the largest shopping malls in the Southeast, with 157 stores. Regency Square is located at 9501 Arlington Expressway.
Orange Park Mall, located at 1910 Wells Road at Blanding Blvd., has 91 stores, including branches of most of our department stores.
St. Augustine Outlet Center, a favorite spot for bargain shoppers with 95 stores is located at exit 97 of I-95, 30 minutes south of Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Landing, modeled after the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the Jacksonville Landing is part mall, part festival marketplace, part amphitheater, located on the banks of the St. Johns in downtown Jacksonville.
Roosevelt Mall, 4400 Roosevelt Blvd., in the Ortega section, attracts shoppers with branches of large department stores and fine specialty shops.
Gateway Shopping Center, on the Northside, is located at 5320 Norwood Avenue, near I-95 North, with 112 stores.
Normandy Mall, on the Westside, is located at 5205 Normandy Blvd. and Lenox Avenue, with 63 stores.
Grande Boulevard and Deerwood Village, at Baymeadows Road and Southside Boulevard in the Southside area, offer a wide selection of quality merchandise.
Jacksonville communities offer an assortment of activities such as swimming, tennis, golf, concerts, dining, biking, shopping, fishing, water sports and many types of family-oriented interests.