Jacksonville, Florida may not be the most famous city in the sunshine state. That title most likely goes to its neighbor down south, Miami. And while it may not have all the glitz and glam of south beach it’s still an incredible city with more to offer than you may expect.
Here are a few tips from a Jacksonville local on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat.
1. Where To Stay
A. Ponte Vedra Inn And Club
The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club is the only 5 star rated resort in the Jacksonville area. With beautiful beachfront rooms, two world-class golf courses, and the best tennis facilities in Northeast Florida, it is the perfect place to stay in Jacksonville. Jacksonville’s most appealing attraction is its beaches and Ponte Vedra Inn and Club give you a ringside seat.
B. Marriott Sawgrass
Located over the Intracoastal but across the street from the beach, this Marriott resort is immaculate. With huge rooms and right on the famous Player’s Championship golf course, you will be treated like royalty here. There is a day spa, access to an incredible health club, and within a short bike ride to the beach.
You are also close to shopping, one of the most famous golf courses in the world, and some incredible beach restaurants. This is a luxurious hotel in a private, beautiful setting.
2. What To Do
Like any good beach city, Jacksonville has incredible shopping. From local beach shops like Sunshine surf shop and Aqua East to world-class retail space at the St. John’s Towncenter, you can find something for everyone. On top of that, a short 20-minute drive takes you to St Augustine and some great Tanger outlets including Gap, Nike, Polo, Saks, American Eagle, J. Crew and more.
B. The Beach
When you come to Jacksonville, the beach has to be on your itinerary. Beautiful white sand, no skyscrapers, a lot of public access, and a lot of beaches make this a prime vacation spot. There are things to do around the beach like Adventure Landing water park, the local train museum, bike rentals, incredible restaurants, and great local music spots.
But the best part of being on the beach is that you are at the beach. Whether you are there to relax, surf, be with family or catch up on your reading, the Jacksonville Beach life is for you.
3. Where To Eat
Jacksonville is home to pretty much any chain restaurant you could think of. But the real finds are those unique to Jacksonville. Start out with the best Bruschetta I have ever tasted or a superb cheese plate. There is a revolving menu of chef creations or a set menu that includes an incredible salmon sandwich and you could not go wrong with anything they offer.
Finally, and this is what Biscotti’s is known for, you can take a dessert tour. Find your server and have them describe each of Biscotti’s incredible desserts and choose your favorite. Just to warn you, these desserts are bigger than anything you may have tried before, but they are so good you just might finish it off.
B. Salt Life
While Biscotti’s is a little more upscale than Salt Life, this restaurant has quickly become a local favorite. With a great selection of appetizers, seafood, and desserts you cannot go wrong with anything on the menu. There is a lot of fried seafood, but most of it is local, fresh, and delicious. There is also a great bar and drink menu. From locally brewed beers to upscale wines you can find anything you are looking for to make your night complete.
You may even want to come back for lunch the next day and enjoy one of the great sandwiches that Salt Life is known for. While there are more upscale places like Bonefish, Ruth’s Chris, Aqua Grill, and others, you cannot go wrong with a locally owned down-home seafood restaurant and Salt Life is one of the best.
For more information on Jax and the surrounding area, take a look at this Jacksonville Guide by Suddath. It has a lot of useful links and details to make a Jacksonville trip that much easier.