Guide to Jacksonville: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to go in the evening. Best things to do in Jacksonville: fresh reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and shopping.
In the northeast of Florida, almost on the Atlantic coast, is the city of Jacksonville. It could be (and partly is) the most popular city in the state due to its amazing Old Town, a prime location on the banks of the St. John River, beautiful waterfronts, an abundance of museums and parks. But in fact it is a city of “blue collars”, hard workers and hard workers.
Visit the Riverside Art Market, on the street of the same name, under the arch of the Fuller Warren Bridge. The market is considered the most important cultural and entertainment event of the city, which takes place in the open air.
How to get to Jacksonville
According to act-test-centers, the city is served by an international airport, which is located about 23 km north of the center. It receives flights from many American cities, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia. You can also get to Jacksonville by train, for example, from New York (Silver Star and Silver Meteor lines) or Miami.
A bit of history
The local fertile places were inhabited, according to archeology, 6 thousand years ago. Europeans landed here in the middle of the 16th century, and Fort Caroline became their first settlement. Later, when Florida was ceded to the United States in the first half of the 19th century, the city was named after Governor and later President Andrew Jackson. In the Revolutionary War, it was the meat from Jacksonville that the Confederate troops could count on, and the city was repeatedly captured by either the “blues” or the “grays”. In the years that followed, Jacksonville became a fashionable resort for those who made their money from the war. In 1901, a monstrous fire broke out in the city, in which both the City and many residential buildings disappeared. The restoration took 10 years.
It is not clear why, but in the fertile and wonderful Jacksonville, a lot of serious crimes are committed. At the turn of the millennium, the city had already led the way in terms of homicides for a dozen years.
Entertainment and attractions in Jacksonville
Landing is a shopping district in Downtown, famous for its vibrant nightlife. Many festivals and other events take place here throughout the year. The Landing is full of waterfront restaurants, nightclubs and unique shops. Most of the fun here is observed on New Year’s holidays and the night before the annual game between the football teams of the universities of Georgia and Florida. During the holidays, it is in the Landing that fireworks are launched, and for Christmas, the largest Christmas tree in northeast Florida is set up here.
3 things to do in Jacksonville:
- Sit on the parapet of the famous Friendship Fountain in the park of the same name, which was constructed in 1965 as the “highest and largest” fountain of that time.
- Drive a car to the oldest city in America – Augustine.
- Get married on the beach. Not that it was mandatory, but in Jacksonville, for those who do not live in Florida, there is no mandatory waiting period between filing an application and consummating a marriage. This is used not only by Americans, but also by foreigners.
Another notable city block is Hemming Plaza. This is a park in the city center, flanked by the City Hall, City Court, Museum of Modern Art, Public Library, former Snyder Memorial Church, and many restaurants. Worth a visit is City Hall, a restored former general store built in 1912 in the prairie style by famed local architect Henry J. Kluto. Inside you can see a large sunny atrium. And the library building, the largest in the state, was built in a postmodern style by Robert Stern and has a cozy patio for outdoor reading.
Fort Caroline National Memorial is the very first French fort that was destroyed by Spanish soldiers from St. Augustine. Now there is a museum dedicated to the first French settlement in the area. The fortress itself is small and rather modest, but the hilly area around is great for hiking.
You can’t visit Jacksonville and not walk along the Riverwalk – not even one embankment, but a whole system of footpaths on the south bank of the river. Citizens love to make dates here: indeed, the place looks very romantic.
The Cummer Art Museum and Gardens are located on Riverside Avenue. Here you can see the ever-expanding expositions of the art gallery and take a walk in the well-groomed garden area right by the water. The museum’s collection includes primarily paintings by European and American artists, as well as a large collection of porcelain. The Museum of Science and History, which the locals call MOSH by its abbreviation, can also interest you with a variety of curious expositions.
The maritime museum exhibits ship models, drawings and photographs, as well as artefacts dating back as far as 1562. And the modern art museum occupies the historic Western Union telegraph building and houses works by state, national and international artists.. In addition, art lovers may be interested in the gallery of the University of North Florida, which hosts several exhibitions of works by US artists and art students every year.
Well, if you are interested in not only contemplation, visit the Riverside Art Market, which is on the street of the same name, under the arch of the Fuller Warren Bridge. The market is open on Saturdays, from April to December, and here you can buy not only handmade paintings and gizmos, but also farm products, as well as participate in mass entertainment. The market is considered the most important cultural and entertainment event of the city, which takes place in the open air.
Finally, the city beach is definitely worth a special praise: it has everything you need for a comfortable stay around the clock, but there are no such crowds as on the beaches of southern Florida.
The historic outskirts of Jacksonville are no less interesting in their own way than the city center. Riverside is located south of downtown on the banks of the river. It was built up in 1910-1930, and many old houses, churches and apartment buildings have been preserved here. Riverside has its own bohemian-inspired commercial center, Five Points, and a memorial park next to it, which houses a statue of the winged Nike in memory of those killed in the First World War.
Another picturesque outskirts, Avondale, begins beyond Riverside, if you move further southwest. It was built up in the 1920s, during the land boom. The developments mix a wide variety of architectural styles, including Tudor, Prairie, Georgian and Mediterranean Revival styles and bungalows. The commercial center, which stretches along St. John Avenue between Talbot and Dancy Streets, is a great place to dine.
In addition to the famous market, Jacksonville hosts the Jazz Festival and the Blues Festival, Florida’s largest open-air festival. The city also has its own film festival, and the city’s public library holds a book festival. In July, the six-day Kingfish Fishing Festival takes place, with a prize fund of half a million USD: about 1,000 boats take part in it.
Particularly specific is the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which takes place on Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. It’s about 60 miles from Jacksonville, but this annual summer event is fun and colorful, centered around a hilarious pirate invasion that terrorizes the locals. At the festival, the most drunken pirate is awarded, who manages to rob the most, and the well-known Miss Wet T-shirt contest is also held here.
Neighborhood of Jacksonville
Amelia Island is very beautiful and can be reached in about an hour’s drive. Tourists admire here the houses climbing the rocks and the plantation. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the island was a pirate base from which raids were made on Spanish ships. Since then, it has received the name “Eight Flags Island”: it is the only place in the US that has been ruled by eight different powers.
Also interesting can be a visit to the Kingsley Plantation – the original southern plantation, well preserved.
St. Augustine was founded by Spanish colonists in 1565 and claims to be the oldest permanent settlement in the country. It is located about 45 minutes drive from Jacksonville to the south. Here you can find many tourist views: in particular, old mansions built by Spanish and British craftsmen. Other must-see sights in St. Augustine are the military fort, the Flagler Museum, St. George’s Street, the lighthouse, and Lion’s Bridge.
Five kilometers from St. Augustine is Ottis Castle, built on the model of millennium-old Irish castles. It is clearly visible from the A1A highway and is illuminated by beautiful blue lights in the evenings.