Welcome to Jacksonville, Florida!
Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Florida, bumping right up against the southern border of Georgia, Jacksonville sprawls across a massive 840 square miles. The largest city in the contiguous US and the most populous city in Florida, Jacksonville at first glance may seem a little daunting and soulless. However, this is a city that rewards the curious and adventurous traveler. With a little further exploration, you will discover the charm, eccentricity, and serious southern hospitality.
Visitors can easily discover the main attractions, but a worldwide local knows the best spots and the most interesting experiences. This is an insider’s guide to some of Jacksonville’s hidden gems.
Eat Like a Local in Jacksonville
Quieter and less flashy than other popular Florida destinations, Jacksonville has been quietly building a reputation as a culinary hotspot over the last few years. The cuisine merges classic deep south cooking with fresh Atlantic catch, with a dining scene that’s rich and varied. Try Blue Bamboo for a remarkable fusion of the deep south and Asian inspired dishes, Orsay for fancy French slow food, or Matthew’s for a wine cellar with over 2,000 bottles.
Worldwide Local Tip: LaVilla is a vibrant, buzzing neighborhood filled with jazz, good times, and fantastic restaurants. Some of the best Southern food is here, and eateries like Chomp Chomp, Cafe Nola, and Olio should not be missed.
Unique Things to Do in Jacksonville, Florida
Despite the proliferation of high-rises and glass, Jacksonville has a genuinely impressive cultural scene, with some wonderful historical oddities. The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is a delightful step away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Places like Art by Mouth and The Southlight Gallery offer fascinating, alternative takes on contemporary art. For history buffs, the Mandarin neighborhood, where Harriet Beecher Stowe lived for 17 years, is well worth strolling around for an afternoon. If you’re visiting with children, stop by the Jacksonville Zoo for an experience that will be fun for the whole family.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, housed in an old Christian Science building, is a fascinating look into the world’s largest private collection of manuscripts and documents. Previous exhibitions have included Charles Lindbergh’s original designs for the Spirit of St Louis, as well as 50 years' worth of letters by Sigmund Freud.
Enjoy the Jacksonville Weather with a Day at the Beach
One real surprise, given Jacksonville’s big-city vibe, is that there are some truly dreamy beach communities just a stone’s throw away from the center of town. Atlantic, Neptune, and Jacksonville Beaches offer fine white sand, glittering azure seas, and three very different moods. From vintage surfer culture at the Atlantic, through family-friendly Neptune, and hip, trendy Jacksonville, wherever you end up will be a real treat.
Worldwide Local Tip: To hang with the locals, head to Huguenot Memorial Park, where you can drive right onto the sand and park on the beach. Gorgeous sand, calm waters, and secluded bays and coves make this the perfect spot for a day dedicated to sun, sea, and sand.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Whether you’re a Jacksonville Jaguar superfan or not, the bright lights of this big city are attractive to everyone. As a worldwide local, however, you will look beyond the glare, find authentic experiences, and get more out of your visit!