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Jacksonville's Top Attractions and Excursions - Beaches, State Parks, and Big-City Fun

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People looking for destinations with both big-city amenities and natural attractions will enjoy Jacksonville, the continental USA's largest city by area. It offers art, international cuisine, and sports events at its stadiums. On the city's fringes you'll find wide beaches, a top-rated zoo, and state parks. Tying everything together is St. John's River, which flows through downtown and creates many waterfront locations for events and businesses.

Downtown Jacksonville

 

This large city provides a walkable urban center filled with skyscraper hotels and office buildings. Jacksonville Landing serves as a primary destination for shopping, dining, and events. At night, live music fills the outdoor waterfront space. The downtown area also boasts more than 40 art galleries and numerous museums, like Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Many professional sports teams such as the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars also call downtown Jacksonville home.

 

  • Jacksonville Landing, 2 W. Independent Dr., Jacksonville 32202; Tel: +1 904 353 1188; Website: Jacksonville Landing
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  • Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, 829 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville 32204; Tel: +1 904 356 6857; Website: Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Nearby beaches and pier

 

The Atlantic Ocean beckons just 20 minutes east of Jacksonville's city center. Jacksonville Beach provides a long fishing pier and many accommodation and dining options. Smaller Neptune Beach offers more solitude, while Atlantic Beach attracts surfers with its bigger waves. South of Jacksonville, posh Ponte Vedra Beach serves as PGA Tour headquarters and backdrop for the TPC Sawgrass golf course.

 

  • Jacksonville Beach, 11 N. 3rd St., Jacksonville Beach 32250; Tel: +1 904 247 6100; Website: Jacksonville Beach
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  • Neptune Beach, 116 1st St., Neptune Beach 32266; Tel: +1 904 270 2400; Website: Neptune Beach

 

Riverside market, music, and eateries

 

Burgeoning Riverside's claim to fame is its Riverside Arts Market on Saturdays. Nearly 50 artisan vendors provide hungry and curious crowds with handcrafted goods while live music plays. Don't miss King Street Food & Beer District where 600 beer taps beckon, including Bold City Brewery and Kickbacks Gastropub. Creative eateries like The Blind Rabbit and organic Sweet Theory Baking Company also line this street.

 

  • Riverside Arts Market, 2623 Herschel St., Jacksonville 32204; Tel: +1 904 389 2449; Website: Riverside Arts Market
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  • Bold City Brewery, 2607-7 Rosselle St., Jacksonville 32204; Tel: +1 904 379 6551; Website: Bold City Brewery

 

Chic Southside

 

Jacksonville's Southside neighborhood offers sophisticated dining, nightlife, and attractions. San Marco Dining District hosts fine dining choices such as Taverna and bb's Restaurant and Bar. Pair your meal with a show at Theatre Jacksonville or Ballet Arts Centre. Afterward, stop by one of several trendy bars like Sidecar or Bistro AIX. At nighttime, a stroll along Southbank's Riverwalk offers views of dazzling lights from Friendship Fountain and John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge.

 

  • Taverna, 1986 San Marco Blvd., Jacksonville 32207; Tel: +1 904 398 3005; Website: Taverna
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  • bb's Restaurant and Bar, 1019 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville 32207; Tel: +1 904 306 0100; Website: bb's Restaurant and Bar

 

Jacksonville state parks

 

Little Talbot and Big Talbot state parks give visitors a glimpse of what undeveloped Florida once looked like. Both considered sea islands, these state parks offer prime bird-watching, kayaking, biking, and hiking. Salty marshes weave between maritime forests before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. For visitors interested in camping, only undeveloped barrier island Little Talbot permits campsites.