Jacksonville defines itself by its historic past and its location where the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean meet. A key crossroads for more than 200 years, Jacksonville lured Northerners in search of sunshine.
Downtown Jacksonville is a bustling urban center, filled with many interesting restaurants, shops and tourist attractions. The Jacksonville Museum of Science and History , the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and the Friendship Park and Fountain can all be found in this district. Browse these offerings that sit alongside the River, a picturesque reminder of the city's historic ties to river life.
Home to nature areas like Guana River State Park and the Ravine State Gardens , Jacksonville Beach is mainly a resort and residential community. Tucked away restaurants and quaint shops flavor the personality of this area, where visitors mainly come to swim, surf, fish or just lay out on the beach and relax. The Players Championship , part of the PGA tour takes place here annually.
St. Augustine is the country's oldest city, where historic homes line cobblestone streets in the Colonial Spanish Quarter . The Castillo de San Marcos is located here. It's the oldest European fort in the US. The Fountain of Youth archaeological park marks St. Augustine's significance as the place that Ponce de Leon landed in 1513. Families spend hours at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Potter's Wax Museum, two lighthearted entertainment options.
Mayport/Fort George Island and North
The area around the Mayport Naval Station and Fort George Island is home to many attractions, and is known for its beach life and many wildlife preserves. Huguenot Memorial Park , with its bird observatory and many hiking trails, as well as Fort Clinch State Park , attract visitors drawn to the great outdoors. Nearby Amelia Island, home to the tucked-away Amelia Island Plantation and the 200-acre Amelia Island State Recreation Area , is a good destination for those looking to enjoy a private vacation.
Jacksonville's diverse culture ensures an eclectic group of eateries for visitors to choose from. Everything from Japanese to American barbecue can be found here, and most at affordable prices.
Downtown Jacksonville is filled with dining options to please any visitor. Robert's Quality Seafood is a popular local spot that also offers a take out option, if you'd like to enjoy your meal on the beach. The chefs at Motoga Japanese Steak House are part of the experience; diners are allowed to watch them work as they vigorously prepare your dinner. Sterlings of Avondale is a fine dining establishment that serves bistro-style cuisine. Part nightclub, part restaurant, De Real Ting Cafe has many Caribbean classics on its menu. The chefs at Angelo's Italian Restaurant never fail to please diners with their skilled preparation of Italian classics.
At the beach, such atmospheric enclaves as Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grille and First Street Grille are tempting spots when sandals and jeans are in order. The milkshakes at the Cruiser's Grill are not to be missed. Be sure to enjoy your meal out on the beach. Durango Steak House serves up hearty portions of American classics. The Polish Black Knight Deli serves New York classics like pastrami on rye, if you're a north easterner yearning for home. The Florida Cracker Cafe is another casual option, with many options for the kiddies. You can spend all day and night at the Gypsy Cab Company Bar & Grill , where locals often come to kick back a few on the weekends and the service is always stellar.
Mayport/Fort George Island and North
In this area, to the north of Jacksonville, there are a few smaller dining options. Despite its hidden location, there are still a surprisingly diverse group of restaurants to choose from. Chan's serves Chinese creations in a family-style atmosphere. The Sandollar Restaurant and Marina is an aptly-named seafood joint, where the service is top-notch. Take the chance to dine with a view at Chowder Ted's , a casual eatery that gets the food to your table fast. Bistro Aix has everything from contemporary French fare to Italian favorites on its menu, while the Corner Brasserie gives you an all-American meal, with hearty portions.