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Cruise Ship Embarkation Ports Jacksonville, Florida
Sights to see & things to do

Water, water everywhere! That's the impact on many visitors getting their feet wet before sailing from Jacksonville. Located on the banks of the St. Johns River, Florida's "first" city is a haven for beach and water sports enthusiasts, not to mention the water hazards on the area's many golf courses.

Getting There
Only twenty minutes from downtown and fifteen minutes from the "temporary" cruise port at Dames Point, Jacksonville International Airport is served by national and regional airlines that offer flights to and from most major U.S. cities. By car, Jacksonville is at the intersection of two Interstate Highways (I-95 and I-10) and within a day's drive of cruise passengers who reside in nearby southeastern states.

Sights to see & things to do

Jacksonville Zoo--Range of the Jaguar

Range of the Jaguar

Culture, sports, outdoor adventures, and beaches—the Jacksonville area offers them all. Ideally suited for families are a host of stimulating activities. In-town museums, such as the Cummer Museum, Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, and Museum of Science and History feature hands-on, interactive exhibits designed to entertain and educate children of all ages. The Museum of Science and History is particularly interesting with its roller coaster motion simulator, planetarium show, and HUGE Jaguar football exhibit. In addition to fun stuff, like playing beach volleyball against a robot, there is an entire area devoted to learning "how things work." The action can get really wild at the Jacksonville Zoo. Home to birds, reptiles, monkeys, bears, wolves, and other species, the zoo's "Range of the Jaguar" is where the big cats don't need a football to be ferocious. Yes, you'll find real Florida alligators there as well! The zoo is a must-do for every visitor.

Kids Kampus is a mini-town set in a riverfront park where children learn bicycle safety and play in a secure setting designed just for them. Next door, concerts are performed in Metropolitan Park and just across the street is Alltel Stadium, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as the site of the annual Gator Bowl and Georgia-Florida Football Classic (or Florida-Georgia Football Classic, depending on where you live). A real treat for choc-holics is in the San Marco neighborhood. Peterbrooke Chocolatier offers factory tours and free samples to their guests. Golf aficionados can find challenging play on every one of the 70-plus courses in the Jacksonville area.

Jacksonville Beaches

Jacksonville Beaches*

North of the "beaches" area, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a totally natural and unspoiled slice of long-ago Florida with camping facilities, picnic areas, bike rentals, and tranquil get-away-from-it-all beaches. Along with Hanna Park, oceanfront Big Talbot and Little Talbot Islands are ideal spots for bird-watching, hiking along nature trails, and kayaking through salt water marshes.

A short drive from downtown, Jacksonville Beach's wide swath of sand is ideal for sunning and collecting shells. Swimming, surfing, and windsurfing are popular pastimes.

Where to stay
Downtown is where the action is and anchoring either side of the St. Johns River are luxury Wyndham, Omni Jacksonville, and Crowne Plaza hotels. With several trolley lines, busses, and a skyway as well as water taxis, getting around is easy and, best of all, the trolleys are free. 

In the historic Riverside neighborhood—bordering downtown, but light years away in charm—are gracious bed and breakfasts only a few blocks from the riverfront. Luxurious and serene, proprietors have thought of everything to provide comfort and a romantic setting.

At Jacksonville's beaches, nearly all accommodations face the sea or are within a stone's throw. John Grisham fans will recognize The Sea Turtle Inn, one of the settings in his best-selling novel The Brethren. Every spring sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and in summer; when they hatch beneath a full moon, the babies follow the moonlight to the water. Sensitive to these special guests, the Sea Turtle Inn, now the One Ocean Resort, features light dampening windows so the new-born turtles aren't confused about which direction to go. The hotel's slogan is, "Let their first sight be moonlight."

Intimate boutique hotels, chain hotels, and cheery bed and breakfast establishments are spread out along the shore, most within walking distance to restaurants and shops.

Where to eat
Local residents claim Jacksonville has such a profusion of great restaurants that they seldom have to visit the same one twice. Down home southern style restaurants to upscale steak and seafood houses prove them right.

Centrally located downtown, The Jacksonville Landing is a riverfront marketplace with numerous casual eateries. Cross the river and head for the equally casual River City Brewing Company to enjoy seafood with a view of the city skyline and the Friendship Fountain, an outdoor bar with live music, and to-die-for key lime pie. Trendy Bistro Aix in the San Marco area proves that fashionable food doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be good!

Links and Resources

Jacksonville Visitors Bureau

Jacksonville Online

Jacksonville Downtown Guide

Jacksonville Intl Airport

JAXPORT Cruise Port

Jacksonville Landing

Jacksonville Beaches

Jacksonville Events

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Area Golf

Friendship Fountain

Cummer Museum of Art

Museum of Science and History

Jacksonville Historical Society

Peterbrooke Chocolatier

Jacksonville Zoo

Kayak Amelia

Adventure Landing

Bistro Aix

Sea Turtle Inn

Jacksonville Beach Hotels

Range of the Jaguar ©™
*Jacksonville Beaches © Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

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