Jacksonville is situated on the Atlantic coast of northeast Florida. It has the misleading distinction of being the most populous city in the state as measured by the number of residents within the city limits which comprises all of Duval county, but it is in fact the largest city in area in the continental United States. The metropolitan area extends beyond Duval County into Nassau, St. Johns, Baker and Clay counties and has a population of more than 1.25 million people, easily exceeded by Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando.
Jacksonville is a traditionally hard-working, blue-collar city. It has a gorgeous downtown spanning the St. Johns River and two river walks.
Jacksonville International Airport (IATA: JAX) . Jacksonville International Airport is the First Coast's commercial airport, with scheduled service offered by AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, jetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways. The airport is located approximately 15 miles north of downtown.
The airport has one terminal building, with ticketing on the upper "Departures" level and baggage claim and ground transportation on the lower "Arrivals" level. There are two areas for ground transportation, at the center front for taxis and area hotel shuttles, and at the north end (outside of Baggage Carousel 1) for Pre-Arranged Ground Transportation, including limousines, intercity buses/shuttles, and local JTA city buses. Airline gates radiate from three concourses, A, B, and C which all funnel through one central security screening area. Generally arriving one hour before a flight's scheduled departure is plenty of time, but during major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, allow one and a half to two hours.
Public transit from JAX to Downtown Jacksonville is provided by JTA Route CT-3, every hour, picking up at Pre-Arranged Ground Transportation (north end of the terminal outside Baggage Carousel 1, lower level). $1.
Jacksonville has three general aviation airports, Cecil Field, Herlong, and Craig airports, all of which are administered by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority . These airports do not have any scheduled commercial flights and can only be reached by charter plane.
Amtrak provides service to other Florida destinations such as Orlando and Miami , but also connects to other points as far north as New York via the Silver Star and Silver Meteor lines. The station is located approximately 5 miles northwest of downtown Jacksonville at 3570 Clifford Lane.
Greyhound, 10 North Pearl St., ☎ 1-877-462-6342, . Greyhound offers service west to Tallahasee and New Orleans, south to Orlando and Miami, and north to Charleston and New York, as well as to regional destinations such as St. Augustine and Lake City. The Jacksonville Greyhound Station is located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, next to the AT&T Tower. The JTA Skyway Central Station is located across Bay St. (at the rear, south side of the Greyhound station building).
megabus.com, ☎ 1-877-462-6342, . Express bus service to/from Atlanta and Orlando. Double Deck Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets and seats starting at $1.
Jacksonville is the eastern terminus of Interstate 10 and is located on Interstate 95, halfway between Atlanta and Miami.
Unless you want to spend a lot of time waiting for buses, a car is a must to fully experience Jacksonville; due to Jacksonville's size and low density, most destinations are not within walking distance of each other. Mass transit is limited to the city bus system, and an elevated rail system in the downtown district that links both banks of the river with a crossing on the Acosta Bridge. The bus system is minimally adequate; no bus runs past midnight, and many bus routes stop running at around 8 or 9PM. All buses are linked via GPS to a central control system and stops are well-marked throughout the entire city.
Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Phone: (904) 630-3100, . The bus system is fairly extensive in scope, but you must plan ahead as the frequency of stops is between 30 minutes to an hour. Buses are air-conditioned and reasonably comfortable, but JTA buses struggle with on-time performance.
Taxi services are available, but expensive due to the sprawl of the city.
Car rentals are the most convenient for of transportation for visitors, with local companies offering better prices but national chains offering more convenience vis-a-vis return policies and times.
It is also possible to bike around the historic neighborhoods of Riverside, Avondale, Murray Hill, and San Marco. Starting in Riverside, you can walk or bike down the Riverwalk to the Main St. Bridge, located in downtown. Ride or walk over the bridge to access San Marco and its many shops and restaurants. Biking is a great way to enjoy the urban core's varied and beautiful architecture which is so easy to miss by car.
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, 829 Riverside Avenue, Phone: (904) 356-6857, . Tu 10AM-9PM; W,F,Th,Sa 10AM-4PM; Su 12PM-5PM. A recently expanded art gallery and formal garden set alongside the Jacksonville waterfront. Features primarily European and American paintings as well as a large collection of early Meissen porcelain.
Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, 333 North Laura Street (Downtown Jacksonville), Phone: (904) 366-6991, . Tu, Fr, Sat, Sun 10AM-4PM; Wed, Th 10AM-9PM; Closed Monday. This Museum recently relocated to its Hemming Park location in the historic Western Union Telegraph Building and presents a large number of innovative contemporary art exhibits created by regional, national and international artists.
The University of North Florida Gallery, 4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, Phone: 904-620-2534, . M,W,Th 9AM-5PM; Tu 9AM-7PM, F 9AM-3PM. Features several exhibitions each year including regional and national artists and UNF faculty and student art.
Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, 50 Executive Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, Phone: (904) 280-0614 . M-Sa 10AM-5PM.
J. Johnson Gallery, 177 4th Avenue North, Phone: 904-435-3200. . Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 12PM-5PM.
R. Roberts Gallery, 3606 St. John's Av., Phone: (904) 388-1188, .
Stellers Gallery, 1409 San Marco Square, Phone: 904-396-9492, . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-3PM.
The Riverside Arts Market, Riverside Avenue at Interstate-95, Phone: 904-554-6865, . Open every Saturday 10AM-4PM, April to December. A weekly arts & crafts market on the Riverwalk under the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge.
The Jacksonville Landing, located downtown on the northbank of the St. Johns River, is Jacksonville's festival gathering place. This retail and entertainment center has as its attractions waterfront dining, nightclubs and unique shops all in an urban, maritime setting. This is a prime location for holiday celebrations and viewing downtown fireworks. During the Christmas season, the Landing is also the site of the largest Christmas tree in northeast Florida. 
Hemming Plaza is a block sized park in the center of Jacksonville's downtown. Named for Confederate veteran Charles C. Hemming, who in 1898 donated to the City the Confederate monument which is the focal point of the park. The park is surrounded by Jacksonville's City Hall, the United States Courthouse, the Museum Of Contemporary Art, the new public Main Library for Jacksonville, the former Snyder Memorial Church and various restaurants. Step inside City Hall, which is a restored department store built in 1912 and designed in the prairie style by noted local architect Henry John Klutho, and take a look at the large, sunlit atrium which dominates the interior of the structure. The new downtown Main Library opened in 2005 and is the largest Main Library in the state of Florida. The postmodern structure was designed by noted architect Robert A.M. Stern and features a Grand Reading Room and a quiet Courtyard for outdoor reading. 
Riverside, located about a mile southwest of downtown on the banks of the St. Johns River, this neighborhood was built primarily between 1910 and 1930 and features a variety of historic homes, churches and apartment buildings. It has as its commercial center eclectic Five Points which features both unique retail and dining all in a bohemian atmosphere. Also notable in the neighborhood is Memorial Park which is situated near Five Points adjacent to the River. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. and has as its centerpiece a statue of Winged Victory as a memorial to the dead of World War I. To visit this area from downtown, take Jefferson Street which becomes Riverside Avenue. 
Avondale, located along the St. Johns River just southwest of and adjacent to Riverside, was built during the 1920s Florida land boom as "Riverside's Residential Ideal". The stately historic houses here were constructed in a variety of architectural styles, including Tudor, Georgian Revival, Prairie, Shingle, Mediterranean Revival and Bungalow. The commercial heart of the neighborhood is known as the Shoppes of Avondale which are located along St. Johns Avenue between Talbot and Dancy Streets. Here, there are many upscale dining and shopping opportunities. 
Fort Caroline National Memorial, Mt. Pleasant Rd., (904) 641-7155, . Daily 9AM-4:45PM. The original French fort, destroyed by Spanish troops from St. Augustine, now lies somewhere beneath the St. John's River. A modern recreation currently stands on the riverbank with a museum dedicated to the first settlements by the French in the area.
Castle Otttis, on FL-A1A 3 miles north of St. Augustine, . "an original landscape-sculpture, Done in Remembrance of Jesus Christ". This privately owned castle modled after "an Irish castle of 1,000 years ago" is open by appointment to school and church groups. It is clearly visable from SR A1A and is illuminated with blue lights from within at night.
Kingsley Plantation, . A well-preserved, Southern plantation. Well worth the trip to see.
Museum of Science and History, 1025 Museum Circle, (904) 396-6674 (Fax: (904) 396-5799), . M-F 10AM-5PM; Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Also known as the "MOSH" by locals, the museum has many interesting science exhibits, and some interesting information about local history.
San Marco Theatre, 1996 San Marco Blvd., 904-396-4845, . The oldest running first-run single-screen theatre in Jacksonville. Serving up your favorite beers, wine and food while you watch the movie. Fantastic midnight film series.
Riverside Arts Market, 715 Riverside Ave (Riverside Ave. under the Fuller Warren Bridge), ☎ 9043892449, . 10-4. More than 100 vendors offer handmade art, specialty foods, farmer's market, and a variety of entertainment. Open every Saturday, March through December, "RAM" is Jacksonville's Premiere Outdoor Arts & Entertainment venue!FREE.
Festivals and Events
Jacksonville Jazz Festival - Jazz festival featuring major names in jazz as well as local and up-and-coming jazz artists.
Springing the Blues - Florida's largest free outdoor blues festival.
Much Ado About Books - Book festival to benefit the Jacksonville Public Library.
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival - Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island (about 60 miles from Jacksonville), holds an annual festival every summer, the highlight of which is a mock pirate invasion terrorizing the locals. Additional Awards go to the biggest drunken pirate who plunders the most booty. And there is also the world famous wet wench contest.
Jacksonville Sea & Sky Spectacular - Air show at Jacksonville Beach.
JaxFlow - A Spin Jam group local to Jacksonville. They spin various Flow Toys, such as hula hoops, fire poi, etc. in various parks and at nightlife spots all over Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Jacksonville's NFL team. Catch one of their home games during football season in the fall. Plenty of good seats always available!
Jacksonville Suns - Jacksonville's AA Minor League baseball team. Tickets are cheap and the view is good at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Sharks - Jacksonville's very successful Arena Football team. Winner of Arena Bowl XXIV in 2011.
The TPC - If you like golf, Jacksonville is second only to Augusta. The Player's Championship is held each spring in Ponte Vedra, a suburb of Jacksonville.
Gate River Run - The second Saturday in March and the longest 15K in the United States.
Jacksonville Rollergirls - Jacksonville's nationally-ranked flat-track Roller Derby team. Bouts (matches) occur about once a month.
The Beach - Jacksonville is on the Atlantic Ocean, and has a thriving beach culture, but not as packed or as crowded as the beaches in south Florida. Three cities within Duval county occupy most of the coastal real estate: Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach.
The Landing - A downtown shopping district with a thriving nightlife around it, especially on New Years and the night before the annual University of Georgia/University of Florida football game.
The Riverwalk - A scenic walk system along the south shore of the St. John's River. It's a great place for a date.
Visit Jacksonville Beach for an elopement, Jacksonville, and the state of Florida allow couples from out side of the state to marry quickly without the normal waiting period for a licence, as noted here from : Florida residents must wait 3 days for license to become effective. (waiting period is waived if you complete the 4 hour premarital course)
Non Florida residents, both US and International do not have a waiting period, so anyone wishing to have the whirlwind romance and get married on the beach should head to Jacksonville.
The Landing - A downtown shopping district located along the St. Johns River. Nice place to sit, snack, and watch river traffic.
St. John's Town Center - Located near the intersection of J. T. Butler Blvd and Gate Parkway, this is an open air mall sprawled over a large area. Lots of shopping and fine dining options. Hands down one of the most popular and most visited mall in North Florida.
Shoppes of Avondale - Specialty shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.
Shops of San Marco - Good used book store, shops, galleries, restaurants, and a Peterbrooke chocolate shop.  Nice upscale wine store with a small seating area, the Grotto, is very popular. Olive - upscale clothing store.
Al's Pizza, Riverside at 1620 Margaret St.904.388.8384, Intracoastal West at 14286 Beach Blvd. 904.223.0991 and the original location at 303 Atlantic Blvd. in Atlantic Beach 904.249.0002, one of the best pizzas I have eaten in the world.
Angies Subs at Jax Beach, 1436 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach (904)246-2519, When seen from the street you may think twice about eating there, but the large amount of cars outside shows that it is a great favorite of the locals. For enjoying the best subs and experiencing local beach flavor, a vist here is a must. Lunch time is peak time and may be crowded. Hours are 11 to 8PM Monday through Saturday.
Beach Hut Cafe, 1281 Third Street South, Jacksonville Beach, (904) 249-3516. This is where locals go for breakfast. Weekend mornings are very busy.
BB's, 1019 Hendricks Avenue, (904) 306-0100. This restaurant has good appetizers, desserts, and a good beer and wine selection. The mushroom and bacon pizza is wonderful. The food is great, but it can get somewhat loud; not the place to go for a quiet conversation.
Salsarita's Fresh Cantina, 840 Nautica Drive, (904) 696-4001, . A great restaurant with delicious, affordable, Mexican food like tortillas and enchaladas. The place is excellent for families and groups. Includes outdoor service and takeout.
St. Johns Seafood & Steaks, . Several locations in Jacksonville. Just what it sounds like, a variety of seafood and steak with all the trimmings. Make sure to have grits as a side.
Gene's Seafood. Several locations in Jacksonville. The usual fried shrimp, fish, etc. in addition to delicious entrees like stuffed flounder. Consistantly delicious.
Brick Restaurant, 3585 St. Johns Avenue, (904) 387-0606. Creative menu with good food; on a street with lots of shops. Outside dining is availlable.
Havana-Jax Cafe, 2578 Atlantic Boulevard, (904) 399-0609, . Delicious Cuban food. Most dinners come with rice, black beans, and plantains. Very good flan.
The Loop Pizza Grill, . Restaurant chain that started in Jacksonville. Good burgers, pizza, salads, onion rings, milk shakes, etc. Several locations in Jacksonville.
Biscotti's, 3556 St. Johns Avenue, (904) 387-2060. Cool atmosphere with delicious, interesting food. Take a look at the desserts in the display case. They taste even better than they look.
The Madrid, 11233 Beach Boulevard, (904) 642-3741. Caribbean and Cuban cuisine. Everything is delicious.
Max's International Restaurant, 1316 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Beach, (904) 247-6820, . Eclectic European food in a pleasant atmosphere. Several fish dishes are always delicious.
Grinder's Cafe, 10230 Atlantic Blvd Ste 8-9, Jacksonville, (904)725-2712, One of the very few "down home" southern food restaurants in Jacksonville. Very friendly atmosphere with a wide selection of southern specialties.
Clark's Fish Camp, 12903 Hood Landing Road, Jacksonville, (904)268 3474, . A local favorite with lots of atmosphere. If you are a vegetarian, you might not enjoy this restaurant. Try the Fish Camp Platter or the Prime Rib, you'll be glad you did. Great place to take the kids.
Lynch's Irish Pub - 514 N. First Street, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250. A well known Irish pub in Jacksonville Beach. Many good imported pints on tap, with live music, and a raucous atmosphere.
Shantytown Pub - Located 1 mile north of downtown in Jacksonville's historic Springfield, this hole-in-the-wall bar offers hundreds of beers and boasts a spacious backyard which hosts barbecues once a week.
Pete's Bar, 117 1st Street, Neptune Beach, FL. Cheap beer and 25 cent pool. One of the oldest bars in Jacksonville. It is definitely a staple at the beaches. Opened the day prohibition was repealed.
Lillie's Coffee Bar, 200 First St. Neptune Beach Fl 32266, ☎ 904-249-2922, . A great place to chill. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, appetizers, wine and beer and of course desserts and coffee. Music in the courtyard every Friday and Saturday night.
Culhane's Irish Pub, 967 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach, Fl 32233, . Featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives!!
Amelia Island Surf & Racquet Club, 4800 Amelia Island Parkway, Amelia Island, +1 800323-2001, . Resort with condo rentals, oceanfront views, family vacations.
Atlantic Beach Florida Hotel, One Ocean Resort, One Ocean Blvd, Atlantic Beach, +1 800 874-6000, . Atlantic Beach Hotel at the Jacksonville Beaches offers a turn-down service, oceanfront views and wireless Internet.
Courtyard Jacksonville Mayo Clinic/Beaches, 14390 Mayo Boulevard, ☎ 904-223-1700, . Located directly on the campus of the Mayo Clinic, featuring a state-of-the-art lobby and stylish guest rooms.
The Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, . Located on Amelia Island, just outside the city of Jacksonville. Bed & Breakfast amenities; on the beach.
Hampton Inn Jacksonville I-95 Central, 1331 Prudential Drive, ☎ 904-396-7770, . Located one block from the Skyway Monorail. Offers free hot breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking.
Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach, 1101 Beach Blvd, ☎ 904-435-3000, . New hotel, including 32” flat panel televisions, free breakfast, and free wifi.
Marriott Sawgrass Beach Resort, . Home of The Players Championship, on the beach.
The Oak Street Inn, . B&B in historic Riverside, a vibrant and diverse downtown art community.
Ponte Vedra Resorts, . Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts have been serving guests at its historic, luxury, Jacksonville-area location since 1928. Rated a 5 Diamond resort from AAA, Ponte Vedra features four challenging golf courses, tennis facilities, swimming pools, luxury shops, and fine dining restaurants on site.
Residence Inn Jacksonville Baymeadows, 8365 Dix Ellis Trail, ☎ 904-733-8088, . Offers spacious suites with full kitchens, living areas and separate bedrooms. Enjoy complimentary breakfast each morning and high-speed Internet access.
The Riverdale Inn, . Another beautiful B&B in Riverside, this one is adjacent to the stunning Memorial Park and has a renowned restaurant.
Springhill Suites Jacksonville Airport, 13550 Airport Court, ☎ 866-599-8636, . An all-suite hotel property. Free hot breakfast, courtesy airport shuttle and free Wi-Fi.
Amelia Island - A beautiful island about an hour north of Jacksonville along FL-A1A, it is home to upscale houses, and the Amelia Island Plantation. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Amelia Island was used as a pirate base for raids on Spanish shipping. Known as the Isle of Eight Flags, it is the only location in the United States to have been under the allegiance of eight different nations.
St. Augustine - Founded by Spanish colonists in 1565, St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest permanent settlement in the United States. It is about a 45 minute drive south of Jacksonville by I-95, or about an hour taking the more scenic route down FL-A1A. It boasts many fine restaurants and tourist attractions, as well as a unique blend of old world architectural styles inherited from its Spanish and British masters. The fort, the old city, the Flagler Museum, St. George's Street, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and the Bridge of Lions are all recommended.
Olustee Battlefield - About an hour's drive west along I-10 in Olustee is the Olustee Battlefield, site of the only Civil War engagement in Florida. The battle is reenacted each February, and is a popular site for Civil War buffs.