The most populous city in Florida, Jacksonville, simply known as ‘Jax’, is where South meets North. A river city, life here revolves mainly around St. Johns River that flows through it. With the southern gentility and cuisine at one hand and rich heritage and culture on the other, the city is a great tourist destination.
However, if you plan on taking a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the many wonders around it, here are the top 6 weekend destinations from Jacksonville for you to enjoy.
The oldest continually habited European settlement in the country, St. Augustine was founded in 1565. Here, you can visit attractions from different periods in history. Castillo de San Marcos, which took 27 years to build, was used as a prison during the American Revolution as well as for Native Americans in the late 19th century. Lightner Museum is home to the finest collections of 19th century decorative and fine arts. There are many such attractions for you to explore.
Best Time to Visit: The recommended time to visit St. Augustine is between March and May. During these months, you’ll find a lesser crowd, pleasant temperatures, and affordable flight and hotel tariffs. June to August is the peak season.
How to Reach: There are direct buses between Jacksonville and St. Augustine that take around 45 mins and cost between $11 to $17 in bus fare. Taking a taxi or driving on your own would also take the same amount of time.
St. George Island
Wake up by the water, walk the Gulf-facing coastline, and set up for an afternoon of fishing or birdwatching. Considered as one of the best-kept secrets of the Sunshine state, the island is home to several attractions including St. George Island State Park, St. George Lighthouse, and the Alligator Point. Don’t forget to try on the World-Famous Blue Parrot Seafood Platter.
Best Time to Visit: When it comes down to it, Summer is the most popular season to visit the Island. However, if you prefer peace and quiet, consider going during Fall.
How to Reach: The most convenient mode of travel between the two locations is to drive as it takes around 4 and a half hours and costs $24 to $35 in fuel. You can also take a bus to Tallahassee and then drive to the location. The latter would take an additional hour and cost between $32 to $45.
One of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, Orlando sees over ten million tourists per year. The major chunk of Orlando’s tourism is accredited to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando. These mega amusement parks have given birth to a massive range of hotels, restaurants, resorts, and many such tourist businesses. You can also take a day trip to the Kennedy Space Center when here.
Best Time to Visit: The months of April, May, October, and November are the most recommended months to visit the city.
How to Reach: There are direct trains between the two cities that take around 3 hours and cost between $30 to $45. Alternatively, you can also take a Greyhound that takes under 3 hours and costs between $20 to $30.
Tampa Bay is recognized not only in the country but the world for its tourist attractions, notably Busch Gardens, where you could enjoy an amusement park as well as a zoo under one roof. Several other remarkable places around the region are dedicated to wildlife, including Tampa zoo, Florida aquarium, Big cat Rescue, and a Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center at Apollo Beach.
Best Time to Visit: May to August are the busiest months when every place is crowded, and the prices are very high. However, September to December is considered to be the best months in terms of weather, prices, and crowd.
How to Reach: The fastest way is to get a flight to Tampa and then make your way to Tampa Bay. If you are on a budget, you can also take a train that will take over 5 hours and cost between $42 to $63.
From its beautiful beaches to its historic brick streets, there is a wealth of things to do on Amelia Island. With over 4,000 years of deep-rooted history, one of the best activities to enjoy here is a historic walk along the streets of Fernandina Beach where you will find a lot of historic homes and buildings that are on the National Register. You could also hop on to the famous Amelia Island Trolley, get a drink at the Palace Saloon, and savor Chef Ricky’s signature delicacies at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro.
Best Time to Visit: The weather on the island is warm and sunny throughout the year. May to June and September to October are most ideal to visit.
How to Reach: A taxi rental or a self-drive car ride only takes around half an hour between the two places. Expect to pay $70 to $85 if you are getting a taxi.
Blue Springs State Park
Located 40 mins north of Orlando, Blue Springs State Park is a popular choice for travelers who wish to spend some time amidst nature and enjoy activities such as swimming, kayaking, hiking, and camping. However, if you are planning a visit to spot the famous manatees, plan your trip around winters. Apart from that, you can enjoy a stroll on the 1.3-mile boardwalk, go tubing in the water, or camp in one of 51 campsites around the State Park.
Best Time to Visit: The best time of year to visit Blue Spring State Park is between the winter months of January and February when you could see the famous Florida manatees.
How to Reach: The shortest and the cheapest way to get to the State Park from Jacksonville is to drive there. The drive will take just a couple of hours and $12 to $17 in fuel.