Jacksonville doesn’t get nearly enough attention as a Florida vacation spot. When my parents lived in Florida a few years ago, I spent a lot of time exploring and traveling up and down the East Coast. Jacksonville remains one of my favorite places that I visited.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, or just Hanna Park to the locals, is a beach and park in Jacksonville. It’s one of my favorite places to enjoy a sunny day and read a book. For such a beautiful beach, it’s really undeveloped in this area of the city. It’s also totally free to visit unless you have to pay for parking.
There’s a boardwalk here that’s over a mile long, and there are over 15 miles of trails throughout the interior of the park. It’s a popular spot for joggers, walkers, and cyclists. In addition to ocean access, there’s also a freshwater lake where you can go fishing, kayaking, and paddleboating.
Neighborhood: Hanna Park is at Mayport in the Jacksonville Beaches area.
If you’re a football fan, a Jaguars game is a must. There are tons of great hotels near EverBank Field so you can go to a game with plenty of tailgating and crash somewhere within walking distance. The season starts in September and if you time it right, you can catch the one home game per month that usually falls on a Sunday.
If you’re more into college football, you’ll have to go to EverBank for the Florida versus Georgia game, one of the biggest rivalries in the country. It usually happens the last weekend of October each year.
Neighborhood: EverBank Field is just east of the downtown area, right along the St. John’s River.
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is seriously beautiful. The Cummer family left a lot of their property and their private art collection to the city when they passed. Most of what you see when you visit the museum belonged to either Ninah Cummer or her brother-in-law who owned the museum’s property.
On a sunny day, the three flower gardens are one of the most stunning places to spend an afternoon. Inside the museum, you’ll find everything from paintings by European artists to sculptures and furniture from throughout the centuries. One of my favorite exhibits is the collection of Japanese prints.
Neighborhood: The Cummer Museum is near the Five Points neighborhood on Riverside Avenue.
If you want to see Jacksonville from a local’s perspective, take a walk along one of Jacksonville’s riverwalks. There’s one on the Southbank where you’ll find St. John’s Wharf, an open-air market with tons of cute shops and food stalls. This side of the river also has a huge outdoor amphitheater where you can see shows and concerts throughout the year.
The Northbank is the newer part and isn’t nearly as built up, but it’s a great place for walking, running, and bike riding. It’s nice and flat and connects the Southbank path from the CSX building to Riverside Avenue. It’s about 1.5 miles long.
Neighborhood: You can access the Southbank Riverwalk from the Riverplace Train Station. It runs along the south side of St. John’s River.
There are so many awesome places to explore in Jacksonville. I’ve only just scratched the surface of all there is to see and do. Don’t get me started on the seafood restaurants and craft beer scene. Whether you’re looking for a sporting weekend or a relaxing beach escape, you’ll find it in Jacksonville.
Feature Image via Flickr by krheesy