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Jacksonville Things to Do: 102 reviews and 223 photos

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Jacksonville's Beach Town Center - Jacksonville
Jacksonville's Beach Town Center Beach Review

Divided by Atlantic Blvd., the pedestrian-friendly communities of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach share a the lively, beautifully landscaped Beach Town Center. Beginning at the Atlantic Blvd. beach access and spanning a few square blocks, Beach Town Center is full of funky, trendy and casual hotspots located just footsteps from the sand. Here, popular restaurants like North Beach Fish Camp, Poe's Tavern, Ragtime, Al’s Pizza, Mezza Luna, Ocean 60, Flying Iguana, Joseph’s, and Sliders -- along with other eateries, coffee and dessert shops -- draw patrons from Jacksonville and beyond in a very idyllic, friendly atmosphere. Here it is common to see swimsuit-clad bicyclists, sandy-footed just-off-the-beach pedestrians, well-groomed for a date yuppies, and family guys like myself pushing strollers loaded with beach bags and toys. At Christmas time, Beach Town Center is a wonderland of lights wrapped around the numerous palm trees that line its streets.

Address: The east end of Atlantic Blvd.

Directions: Go east on Atlantic Blvd. and cross Third Street (A1A). Then look for a parking space.

Website: http://www.beachtowncenter.com

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  • Written Jul 12, 2014
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- Jacksonville
Catch some Jacksonville Suns baseball!

The Jacksonville Suns baseball club is the AA affiliate of the Miami Marlins. The team, which plays in the Southern League, has a long history in Jacksonville, and has had the likes of Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Alex Rodriguez, and many other big names of the game play on its rosters. After many years of playing at Wolfson Park, the Suns began playing at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in 2003, one of the finer parks in the Southern League. An outing to a minor league game is a tremendous entertainment option for the whole family, as there are often many promotions, in addition to the game itself, that add to the overall experience. The Suns and the Pensacola Wahoos are the only AA level clubs in the state of Florida, though there are several Single-A clubs as well. In addition to their cross-state rival in Pensacola, the Suns also play against teams from Birmingham, Mobile, Chattanooga, and other Southeastern markets. The Suns' schedule runs from April to the first week of September.

Opened in 2003, the design of the Baseball Grounds is said to have been inspired by Camden Yards in Baltimore. The stadium features luxury suites, terraces with picnic table seating, a restaurant, and a team merchandise store, in addition to traditional stadium seating and concessions. Just beyond third base, a grassy berm area is a place where families can sit while kids can run around and even sometimes get autographs behind the home bullpen. The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville is also a site for other special event baseball games and will also serve as the temporary home of the Jacksonville Armada, the city's new professional soccer team that is scheduled to begin play in 2015.

Address: 301 A Philip Randolph Blvd.

Directions: The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville is located downtown in the center of the city's sports complex area, directly across the street from the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Area and across a large parking lot from Everbank Field.

Phone: 904.358.2846

Website: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t564

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  • Updated Jul 12, 2014
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See the NFL's Jaguars at Everbank Field - Jacksonville
See the NFL's Jaguars at Everbank Field

The Jaguars, Jacksonville's National Football League franchise, play regular season games and a couple of preseason games at Everbank Field from August-early January. If you happen to be in town then, definitely see if you can get your hands on some tickets. I've been to several games including one playoff game in the past (though since having kids I've only been able to afford taking them to a few scrimmages). The team is very well loved by the local fans (despite the claims of some media outlets that want to see a team in L.A). In fact, the team's billionaire owner, Shahid Khan, is having the world's largest scoreboards and even swimming pools installed at the stadium between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and has been leveraging an agreement to play one game in London over the next few years to help boost awareness not only of the Jaguars, but also of Jacksonville itself.

For those staying at the beach or suburban areas, Jacksonville also has a very efficient game day shuttle system using buses and water taxis to transport fans from key parking lots around the city to the stadium. It costs money, but you sure don't have to worry about any traffic.

With a capacity of over 70,000, Everbank Field is one of the largest stadiums in the National Football League, and as of the 2014 season will have the largest scoreboard screens in the world! In addition to Jaguars games, Everbank Field hosts the annual Florida-Georgia college football game (Oct. or Nov.), Gator Bowl game (New Year's Day), and the college lacrosse games of the Moe's Sunshine Classic (February). In 2005, Everbank Field (then called ALLTEL Stadium) hosted Super Bowl XXXIX between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Address: 1 Everbank Field Dr.

Directions: Downtown Sports Complex

Other Contact: ticketing@jaguars.com

Phone: 904.633.2000

Website: http://www.jaguars.com/

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  • Written Jul 12, 2014
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Arr!  St. Augustine's most fascinating attraction! - Jacksonville
Arr! St. Augustine's most fascinating attraction! St. Augustine Review

Located across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos, the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum has really established itself as one of the city's premier attractions. Here visitors can learn a great deal about the lives of some of history's most notorious pirates, and about the lifestyles and historical contexts associated with piracy during the days of exploration and colonization. Aside from the gift shop, there are nine exhibit areas in the museum: Port Royal, Rogues Tavern, Main Deck, Gun Deck, Below Deck, Captain's Cabin, Execution Dock, Shipwreck Island, and Hollywood Pirates. Rogues Taven is my favorite part of the museum. Here, several touch screens provide access to an electronic who's who book of famous pirates, while the walls are adorned with portraits and accounts of the many pirates connected with the history of St. Augustine and nearby Amelia Island. Of course, the Main Deck serves as the centerpiece of the museum. Designed to actually resemble the main deck of a pirate ship, this room is equipped with a captain's wheel and barrels carrying the scents of what would have been common cargo smuggled on board ships of the past. Behind the Main Deck, the Gun Deck features a cannon simulator that visitors can fire, and a closet in which hangs a model showing what a skeletal corpse might look like after getting shot by a large, disemboweling shot of ammunition. Be advised that this is one of several things in the museum that may scare children. Other creepy models, diaramas, and animatronics that might bother children include a mock corpse enclosed in a gibbet and hung for all to see (as was a customary practice of communities that executed pirates and used their bodies as a warning to others), a pirate patient biting down on a leather strap after a surgeon has just plucked out his right eye, a "sleeping" pirate that appears to be breathing, and, of course, the talking severed head of Blackbeard. Below Deck is actually a dark chamber where visitors put on headphones and enjoy a sensory presentation developed by Disney about the defeat and beheading of Blackbeard. The museum is not just a bunch of creepy and scary exhibits, however. Rooms showcase a variety of artifacts including one of only two remaining Jolly Roger flags; a surgical kit with instruments used for such procedures as eye gouging, limb amputation, and kidney stone removal; proclamations, documents, a diary, and even the family Bible belonging to Captain Kidd; weaponry including deadly blunderbusts and cutlasses; actual treasures including coins, jewelry, and the world's only remaining authentic pirate treasure chest; and yes, even props and posters from pirate-inspired Hollywood films.

Address: 12 S Castillo Drive (St. Augustine)

Directions: St. Augustine Historic District, about 45 minutes south of Jacksonville

Phone: 877.Go.Plunder (877.467.5863)

Website: http://www.piratesoul.com/

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 12, 2014
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The Castillo: St. Augustine's signature attraction - Jacksonville
The Castillo: St. Augustine's signature attraction St. Augustine Review

Located along the bayfront in St. Augustine's Historic District, about 45 minutes south of Jacksonville, the Castillo de San Marcos is perhaps St. Augustine's biggest attraction. It was built in the late 1600's out of coquina, an unusual local shell/stone material. Previously, St. Augustine was defended by a wooden fort, but the burning of that fort and subsequent devastation of the town at the hands of Robert Searles, a notorious English pirate, necessitated the construction of a more durable fortification. While "the fort" (as it is commonly referred to today) was primarily instrumental during the Spanish and British colonial periods, it also played a role in the American Civil War and was later used as a prison for a time. Today though, the Castillo is operated by the National Park Service, under whose watch it is routinely stormed by hordes of tourists armed with cameras. Visitors (who have paid the reasonable admission cost) may cross the drawbridge, wander through the fort's series of chambers, cross through its courtyard, and climb its staircase to the cannon deck to enjoy sweeping views of the harbor and city. Cannon-firing demonstrations occur throughout the day, as costumed "soldiers" carry out the procedural duties associated with firing a cannon back in Spanish colonial times. Even when you know it's coming, that "BANG" can still give you a jolt! Children may want to be advised to cover their ears. Overall though, it is a great place to explore an authentic part of history and enjoy some great scenic views!

Address: 1 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine

Directions: Historic District, along the waterfront

Phone: 904.829.6506 (ext 234 rangers)

Website: http://www.nps.gov/casa/

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  • Updated Jul 10, 2014
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- Jacksonville
Jacksonville's BEST "mall" is outdoors

St. Johns Town Center , an outdoor, pedestrian-friendly, “Main Street” style mall (dubbed a “lifestyle center” in the retail industry), is THE premier shopping and dining destination between tourist-happy Orlando and big-business Atlanta. You could even say it’s a “mall” for outdoors-loving people who hate to go to the mall! I don’t even like most of the high-end stores found here, yet I really enjoy walking its sidewalks and green.

If you are a shopaholic, St. Johns Town Center is home to the likes of Tiffany & Company, Louis Vuitton, Urban Outfitters, Microsoft, The Apple Store, Tommy Bahama, Williams-Sonoma, and a whole slew of other ritzy and/or trendy chains that I do not have the money, fashion sense, or status envy to shop at. (That said, I do have three favorite hang-outs: a two-story Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lifeway Christian Store, and Barnes & Noble.)

Aside from shopping, another equally impressive drawing card is its selection of restaurants. Here, your stomach (and wallet) must decide among the likes of The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Maggiano’s Little Italy, The Capital Grill, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Brio, Bahama Breeze, Ted’s Montana Grill, Cantina Laredo, J. Alexander’s, Black Finn, Seasons 52, and a host of other chains.

Opened in 2005, St. Johns Town Center is more than just Jacksonville’s premier shopping and dining destination – it’s also a rival hub to downtown. Situated at the busy super-interchange of J.T. Butler Boulevard (a freeway that links I-95 to the beaches) and I-295 E (the eastern half of the city’s beltway), the center is the heart of Jacksonville’s busy and ever-booming Southside, surrounded by a landscape dense with office, residential, and retail developments. The campus of the University of North Florida and the popular Cinemark Tinseltown megaplex are also within very close proximity – as are even more restaurants and big-box retailers!

Address: 4663 River City Drive

Directions: Deerwood/UNF area, near the Butler Blvd./SR 9A Beltway interchange

Website: http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=857

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  • Updated Jul 10, 2014
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- Jacksonville
See signature views from the Southbank Riverwalk Downtown Riverfront Review

Jacksonville’s riverwalks are among the finest and most scenic in the nation. Lining the north and south banks of the St. Johns River, the two are connected by either water taxi or by the pedestrian walkways of the Main Street and Acosta bridges. Both riverwalks offer changing perspectives of the city’s downtown skyline, which is split in half by the river. Both riverwalks are also great places to bring children and allow them to run, walk, or bike ride without the fear of cross streets and motorized vehicular traffic. Bicycling, jogging, rollerblading, skateboarding, and walking are common pastimes here for both young and old. Both riverwalks also pass under the Main Street Bridge on their respective sides of the river.

The Southbank Riverwalk is shorter in length than its Northbank counterpart, but it also boasts Friendship Park and Friendship Fountain, one of the largest fountains of its kind in the world. Friendship Fountain boasts an array of ever-changing jets that soar high into the air and are illuminated in changing color patters at night. The Southbank Riverwalk also offers great views of Everbank Field and the Sports Complex, as well as the city’s most commonly photographed skyline view. The Southbank Riverwalk passes right by or within a block of the Wyndham and Crown Plaza hotels, Friendship Fountain, the Museum of Science & History, and a few fine dining establishments: River City Brewing Company, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and the Charthouse. To park at the Southbank Riverwalk for free, go to the Wyndham Hotel & Charthouse lot and tell the attendant you are there for the riverwalk.

Address: Between the School Board and River City Brewing Co

Directions: Along the Southbank of the St. Johns River in Downtown

Website: http://www.downtownjacksonville.org

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 10, 2014
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Atlantic Beach: Perhaps Florida's Best Beach Town Beach Review

When out-of-towners think of Jacksonville’s beaches they likely think of the larger and more popular Jacksonville Beach. While Jacksonville Beach has more in the way of accommodations and restaurants, many locals know that Atlantic Beach is really the place to make footprints in the sand. Occupying two miles of beautiful white sand beachfront with 14 public accesses, Atlantic Beach is a gem that most visitors somewhat bypass due to the way coastal route A1A jogs several blocks inland at Atlantic Boulevard, the town’s southern boundary line with Neptune Beach. They don’t see the gorgeous tree-covered neighborhoods full of aesthetically pleasing (and in some instances rather creative) architecture. They don't realize that while the beaches are beautiful in Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach, that same sandy strand seems to get prettier and less crowded several blocks to the north. Add to this the fact that Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach share a Town Center of restaurants and shops just a block off the sand, and you just might find that there is no better place to be on the Florida coast!

Address: The east end of Atlantic Blvd.

Directions: Get on Atlantic Blvd. and head east until you see the beach.

Website: http://www.coab.us/

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 10, 2014
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Jax Beach Pier: Walk a quarter mile offshore! Beach Review

Popular with fishermen and spectators alike, the Jacksonville Beach Pier gives visitors a remarkable view of the coast and oceanfront skyline from as far away as 1,320 feet offshore! Watch fishermen reel in their catches, or set your sights on the surrounding waters, where surfers love riding the wave breaks created by the pier's support posts.

Address: 503 1st st. N. (Jacksonville Beach)

Directions: Jacksonville Beach

Website: http://www.jacksonvillebeachpier.com/

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 10, 2014
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- Jacksonville
Stroll or bike down the scenic Northbank Riverwalk Downtown Riverfront Review

Jacksonville’s riverwalks are among the finest and most scenic in the nation. Lining the north and south banks of the St. Johns River, the two are connected by either water taxi or by the pedestrian walkways of the Main Street and Acosta bridges. Both riverwalks offer changing perspectives of the city’s downtown skyline, which is split in half by the river. Both riverwalks are also great places to bring children and allow them to run, walk, or bike ride without the fear of cross streets and motorized vehicular traffic. Bicycling, jogging, rollerblading, skateboarding, and walking are common pastimes here for both young and old. Both riverwalks also pass under the Main Street Bridge on their respective sides of the river.

The Northbank Riverwalk is the longest, better landscaped, and most interesting to navigate. It follows the curvature of the river southwest, all the way to the Fuller Warren Bridge (Interstate 95), from which point one can take in a complete view of the entire Jacksonville skyline, connected by bridges. Along the way, the Northbank Riverwalk passes right by or within a block of the Hyatt Regency and Omni hotels, the restaurants and nightspots of the Jacksonville Landing, and the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Just west of the Acosta Bridge, a steep incline challenges exercisers of all types as the riverwalk itself overpasses railroad tracks. At the right time, visitors can find themselves just a few feet above a passing freight train, feeling the vibrations as it rumbles over through the heart of the city. On the other side of the tracks, the riverwalk becomes a spiraling ramp underneath the Acosta Bridge that kids love to run down. For parking, on the Northbank there are many metered spaces east of the Jacksonville Landing and lining the various streets of Downtown, there are various lots and garages within a couple of blocks of the riverwalk, and there are free parking spaces off of Riverside Avenue along the riverwalk’s southwestern stretch near both the YMCA and the Fuller Warren Bridge.

Address: On the St. Johns River between Market St. & I-95

Directions: Downtown Jacksonville's Northbank

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 10, 2014
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