Introduction Straddling the St. Johns River 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville hums with waterfront activity and things to see on land. A thriving downtown area lines the banks. Water taxis transport passengers between the SouthBank Riverwalk and the Northbank, the center of the city's entertainment district. Local restaurants, shops and outdoor concerts afford a view of kayaks and yachts floating by peacefully.
Adventurous Things to Do
But the river is just one of the bountiful natural resources and things to do in Jacksonville. The city has the largest urban park system in the country, comprising more than 80,000 acres of hiking trails, neighborhood playgrounds and preserved wilderness. And a stroll on miles of bleached sand is only a short drive away and is among the fun things to do with kids in Jacksonville.
The mild weather that blesses the city for much of the year is perfect for outdoor events and draws locals and vacationers alike. In February the World of Nations Celebration is held in Metropolitan Park. For golf enthusiasts, the more than 50 courses in the area are a dream come true, and they can enjoy the Professional Golf Association's annual the PLAYERS golf tournament in March. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is held on Memorial Day weekend. And in November, the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair showcases livestock while throwing carnival rides and live entertainment into the mix. Fireworks shower over the seven bridges across the great river, adding a special touch to many major Jacksonville events.
By CarTwo important interstate highways, I-95 and I-10, intersect in the Jacksonville downtown area. I-95 traverses the United States from north to south beginning in Maine and ending in Miami. It is frequently congested as it approaches downtown.
I-10 connects Jacksonville on the East Coast with Los Angeles by way of New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Tucson and Phoenix.
I-295 loops around the city, connecting with I-95 both south and north of downtown. I-295 also intersects with I-10 directly west of the city.
A more scenic approach is SR A1A, which follows the coastline through Jacksonville. Northeast of the city, SR A1A travels through historic Fernandina Beach.
US 1 is another important route. This highway runs the length of America's east coast, from Lubec, Maine, to Key West, Fla. US 17 approaches from the west and provides yet another route into Jacksonville.
Street SystemLike most newer cities, the street system of downtown Jacksonville is a simple grid. Bay Street divides the city north-south, while Main Street is the east-west divider. The destination does not adhere to a street naming convention, and thus a road's name (that is, whether it is called a street, avenue or boulevard) does not indicate its compass orientation.
The downtown speed limit is 30 mph. Traffic is most congested 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
ParkingBoth on-street parking and several parking garages are available downtown. Parking meters require 25c per half hour ($6 maximum per day).
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.
The sales tax is 7 percent in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties and 6.5 percent in St. Johns County. The bed tax is 4 to 6 percent in St. Johns County and 6 percent in Duval County; the tourist development tax is 3 percent in Clay County and 4 percent in Nassau and St. Johns counties.
Baptist Medical Center, (904) 202-2000; Mayo Clinic, (904) 953-2000; Memorial Hospital of Jacksonville, (904) 399-6111; St. Vincent's Medical Center Southside, (904) 296-3700; UF Health Jacksonville, (904) 244-0411.
208 N. Laura St. Suite 102 Jacksonville, FL 32202. Phone:(904)798-9111 or (800)733-2668
More than a dozen major and regional carriers serve
Hertz, at the airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (904) 741-2151.
The Amtrak station is at 3570 Clifford Ln., 5 miles northwest of downtown. For arrival information phone (904) 766-5110; for reservations and information phone (800) 872-7245.
The main Greyhound Lines Inc. bus terminal is at 10 N. Pearl St.; phone (904) 356-9976.
Major cab companies are Checker Yellow Cab Co., (904) 345-3333 or (904) 765-9999; Coastal Cab, (904) 246-9999; and Gator City Taxi, (904) 999-9999. Base fare is $2 with a rate of $2 per mile.
Jacksonville Transportation Authority operates a system of buses, trolleys and shuttles that serves Jacksonville and the beaches. A Baldwin Wildcat Commuter Shuttle offers weekday service to Baldwin and Macclenny. The Skyway, an automated monorail system, provides downtown transportation between the Prime Osborn Convention Center, Hemming Plaza and Rosa L. Parks Transit Station on the Northbank and San Marco and Kings Avenue Station across the river.
River taxi service between points along the St. Johns River is available from Jacksonville Water Taxi, departing every half-hour Tues.-Thurs. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fri.-Sat. (also holidays) 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; phone (904) 630-2489. A daily pass is $10; $8 (ages 3-12 and 65+). Fare to the stadium or Downtown Loop during football games and special events is $10 (round-trip); $20 (unlimited all day); cash only.