OCEAN OF FUN: The wave activity off Jacksonville’s Mayport beach area makes it a perfect spot for a surf lesson.
In the far northeast corner of Florida sits Jacksonville, the state’s most populous city, home to three U.S. naval installations and a variety of unique neighborhoods. The city was named for Andrew Jackson, who was the area’s first provisional governor before he went on to become president. Jacksonville can be overwhelming— it’s the largest city by area in the contiguous United States—so we’ve broken this modern destination down by neighborhood.
Called “the coolest block in Jacksonville,” Five Points is the perfect place to start the weekend. The neighborhood is situated along the St. Johns River at the intersection of five streets. It features the Cummer Museum (829 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville; 904.356.6857; cummermuseum.com), which is home to more than 5,000 works of art—both ancient and modern—plus 2 1/2 acres of gardens. Need to get off your feet? Grab a seat at the Sun-Ray Cinema (1028 Park St., Jacksonville; 904.359.0049; sunraycinema.com), an art-house theater screening independent films. For lunch and dinner—and especially brunch—there’s no finer eating in Five Courtesy Thompson Surf School Points than River & Post (1000 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville; 904.575.2366; riverandpostjax.com). With a rooftop setting that overlooks downtown, the restaurant emphasizes exceptional food and handcrafted cocktails. Not to miss: the Assertive Lady, made with gin, crème de mûre, muddled raspberries and lemon juice.
Centered around a tree-lined square with a bubbling fountain, the San Marco district has made a name for itself as the go-to spot for hip restaurants, boutiques and live music. Visit Jack Rabbits Live (1528 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville; 904.398.7496; jaxlive. com), an intimate music venue that promotes local artists. Many regional bands have made a name for themselves here. Looking for a cold one? Try Aardwolf Brewing Company (1461 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville; 904.301.0755; aardwolfbrewing.com). This brewhouse has just the right vibe for a neighborhood taproom—brick walls, industrial furniture, concrete countertops—plus fun beers including a hazelnut bourbon stout and a sweet, light clove-flavored hefeweizen. Wrap up your visit to San Marco with a trip to MOSH, Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History (1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville; 904.396.6674; themosh.org). With interactive exhibits on everything from the Calusa Indians to aquatic invertebrates, the museum is a lively place to while away an afternoon.
The Mayport neighborhood lies between Naval Station Mayport and the St. Johns River. It’s home to some of the best—and least crowded—beaches in the area. The wave activity makes it a perfect spot for a surf lesson. Try the Thompson Surf School (429 First St., Jacksonville Beach; 904.316.8573; thompsonsurfschool.com) for private and group sessions. Ready to wind down? Book a table at Azurea, the area’s most upscale seafood eatery, located inside the luxury resort One Ocean (1 Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach; 904.249.7402; oneoceanresort.com). The restaurant is famous for its local line-caught fish. Stay in one of the hotel’s lavish suites to take advantage of Jacksonville’s most beautiful views of the Atlantic.