With Delta’s non-stoppers to Jacksonville, Florida, you can pull out of your driveway at 8 a.m. and make it to a beach yoga class at noon, grab a smoothie for the road and spend the afternoon kayaking with manatees through the peaceful salt marshes Talbot Islands State Park. Plan on a few stops on the Jacksonville Ale Trail en route to cocktails and dinner at one of this energized city’s bright new restaurants to power up for another action-packed day. Covering more than 800 square miles, Jacksonville is the largest city in the contiguous United States and with that comes a notable history, respectable number of interesting tourist stops and luxe accommodation options. Younger Floridians know the city well (the median age is 36) and chose it for its easy beach access, river-side walkability and engaging food and craft beer scene. This quick warm-weather get-away destination promises to keep you on your toes. Here are six ideas for an active JAX holiday.
- Catch a game. The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville has an old-fashioned design with loads of luxe skyboxes and a calendar of baseball to make a fan swoon. The Jumbo Shrimp (formerly the Suns), brings minor league play with the Jacksonville Jaguars playing next door at EverBank Field for easy access Action.Jacksonville.Suns.MILB.com
- Hang ten. The surf at Atlantic Beach (minutes from downtown) offers nice waves for beginners and challenges for more advanced surfers. Book a private lesson and you’ll be popping up in no time. Public classes and kids surf camps, standup paddle boards and surfboard rental options are plentiful on this clean and accessible beachfront. JacksonvilleSurfAndPaddle.com
- Kayak the miles of salt marshes and small rivers around Timucuan Preserve Estuary, waving to osprey along the way. The estuary provides protection and food for 90 percent of the large fish in the Atlantic so you’ll have company. Look for shell middens of the Timucua. The route takes you past the historic Kingsley plantation along the Fort George River on Fort George Island. NPS.gov KayakAmelia.com
- Walk through history. Lots of firsts here. Friendship Fountain opened in 1965 it was billed as the world’s largest and tallest fountain. Two years later, the Regency Square Mall opened and was the largest air-conditioned shopping center in the South. There’s an oak tree on the Southbank of downtown planted in 1822 standing more than 70 feet, with a trunk 25 feet around. In 1955, the Aetna Building opened as the tallest office building in the South. AdLib Luxury Tours offers a “Top to Bottom” tour where animated guides will take you through a secret underground tunnel between banks that made the town tick hundreds of years ago. There are ghost tours and black history tours, too. Be sure to stop in at the adorable Sweet Pete’s Candy for a class and gifts. AdLibTours.com
- Tee time. With well-groomed courses galore, chose one like Windsor Parke Golf Course, a semi-private 18-hole championship course designed by Arthur Hills. This beginner-friendly course offers pro golf lessons (meet pros Greg Parham and Leslie Fischer) and a practice range and putting green. WindsorParke.com
- Jump for Joy. Not just for sugared up kids anymore, trampolines are IN. Velocity Air Sports offers the largest indoor trampoline park in the state with 40,000 square feet of tramps. VelocityAirSports.com.
- Eat, drink and be merry. Grab breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Co. Go ahead and get the Sticky Maple, a flaky home made biscuit with fried chicken, pecan wood smoked bacon and maple syrup from a local farm. Four locations in cool areas of JAX. MapleStreetBiscuits.com For dinner, head to Moxie Kitchen & Cocktails for a surprisingly chic vibe for a shopping center locale. The grilled Scottish salmon is notable and save room for dessert. After all, you’ve had an active JAX day. MoxieFl.com