Planning a trip to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl?
After a 2019 football season with ups and downs, the Tennessee Volunteers will face the Indiana Hoosiers in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on TIAA Bank Field on January 2nd at 7 p.m.
January in Florida feels a little different than January in East Tennessee. So why not make a quick trip out of it?
If you’re in need of ideas, here are some fun things to do in the Jacksonville area that require little to no planning. Have fun out there!
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Whether you’re looking for somewhere to stroll, admire the city skyline, or need a spot for the pretty photo op, the Southbank River Walk in Jacksonville is the place to be.
The Riverwalk is located at 1001 Museum Circle in Jacksonville and extends a little over a mile, according to visitjacksonville.com. It borders the St. Johns River, and while walking, you can see river boats, public art, and views of the city.
You can also launch kayaks, take a water taxi, and eat at a few restaurants along the way on the Riverwalk. Some include the Chart House seafood restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and the River City Brewing Company, a pub serving steaks, pasta, and seafood.
Visit a nearby beach!
January is not the peak beach season in Florida, but you can still spend some time on sandy shores during winter.
In mid-December, Jacksonville temperatures range from the upper 50s to the lower 70s, according to weather.com, and it’s likely that they will stick to those numbers in early January.
While you might not want to go into the ocean without a wetsuit, you can take a stroll, search for seashells, and relax on the beaches near Jacksonville.
You need to drive approximately 30 to 45 minutes from downtown Jacksonville to get to the area beaches. Here is a list of some of your options.
- Jacksonville Beach: About 30 minutes from downtown Jacksonville, this beach stretches for 22 miles, has a pier and several hotels and restaurants adjoining it. Beach access points can be found along 1st Street South, Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
- Atlantic Beach: About 30 minutes from downtown Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach is two miles with 18 access points to the beach. You can find many of them along Ocean Avenue, Atlantic Beach, Florida. You can also find nearby parks in the area, including Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park with bike and hiking trails.
- Amelia Island: Amelia Island is approximately 45 minutes from downtown Jacksonville and has 13 miles of beaches with multiple access points along Florida State Road A1A. Amelia Island also has several restaurants, shops, and fishing opportunities.
Golf courses in the Jacksonville area
There are also several golf clubs in Jacksonville. If you’re looking to tackle one of the many public courses in the area, check out this list of options.
- Jacksonville Beach Golf Club, 605 Penman Road South, Jacksonville Beach, Florida Info: jaxbchgolf.com, 904-247-6184.
- Blue Sky Golf Club, 1700 Monument Road, Jacksonville, Florida Info: golfbluesky.com, 904-446-2899.
- Hidden Hills Golf Club, 3901 Monument Road, Jacksonville, Florida Info: hiddenhillsgc.com, 904-641-8121.
- Fernandina Beach Golf Club, 2800 Bill Melton Road, Fernandina Beach, Florida Info: fernandinabeachgolfclub.com, 904-310-3175.
A day trip to St. Augustine
From Jacksonville, take about 50 minutes on I-95S and you will arrive in St. Augustine, Florida.
The city calls itself the oldest city in the country, and some of St. Augustine’s attractions revolve around its long history.
You can take sightseeing tours by trolley, visit the history museum, lighthouse, beaches and other places in the city, and tour the Castillo de San Marcos, a former Spanish fortress.
Other activities include ghost tours, winery and distillery tours, shopping, kayaking and dolphin tours, and the nearby Anastasia State Park.
Try Jacksonville’s dining options
Whether you’re staying in Jacksonville for a day or five for the Gator Bowl, you need a place to refuel.
Jacksonville’s dining options range from fresh seafood to French and Italian dishes. Here is a list of suggestions with 4.5 stars or higher in Google reviews.
- JLTrent’s Seafood & Grill, 4553 120th St., Jacksonville. Offers various fish dishes, from fried oysters and fried ahi tuna to side dishes in the Mediterranean style. Info: jltrentsseafood.com.
- Orsay restaurant, 3630 Park St., Jacksonville. Specializing in French and South American cuisine and cocktails. Info: restaurantorsay.com.
- Enza’s Italian restaurant10601 San Jose Blvd., Ste 109, Jacksonville. It offers a wide variety of Italian dishes, including hot and cold starters, pasta, pizza, and chicken and veal-based starters. Info: enzas.net.
- The bearded pig1224 Kings Ave., Jacksonville. Specializes in grilled dishes and has a beer garden with several choices. Info: thebeardedpigbbq.com.
- Rice and pasta9527 Regency Square Boulevard # 101, Jacksonville. Offers Korean fusion cuisine with kimchi, spicy pork, seaweed rolls, dumplings and other products. Info: riceandnoodles.net.