It seems like millions, but really it’s only about 130,000 people that invade Jacksonville each October for what was once called “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” but now in this era of being politically correct is called simply, “Georgia vs. Florida Weekend.” The Georgia/Florida weekend has more than a $33 million economic impact on Jacksonville, so everyone in the area in on board with what this weekend means on and off the football field.
This year’s Florida-Georgia game at EverBank Field will be played on Halloween, with the date and kickoff will be its usual starting time of Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Each team has a week off leading up to the game and the last time the game was played on Halloween was 2009, when Florida won 41-17.
While football is the reason that thousands flock to Jacksonville each year, Jacksonville offers a heck of a lot more than just tailgating and football. Jacksonville is the business, cultural and entertainment capital of North Florida and there is something for everyone to do and try on this long weekend in one of America’s most underrated cities.
1. The Band Perry Oct 31 Concert
Rock the annual TAILGATE concert featuring The Band Perry on Friday, October 31 at Metropolitan Park. Kick off the Florida vs. Georgia football weekend with The Band Perry and special guests Georgia native country singers Corey Smith and Jon Langston, as well as Gainesville, FL based Sister Hazel. General Admission tickets are $25 here.
2. Touchdown Showdown
If you don’t have the coveted tickets to the game, on Saturday, October 31, from 10 a.m. – end of game, it’s free to attend the “Touchdown Showdown” that is outside EverBank Field’s south end zone. This is the largest free, interactive attraction during Florida-Georgia weekend with interactive games and activities, jumbo screens, merchandise sales, food and beverages and much more. Enter through the Swamp or through the Dawg house.
3. Omni Jacksonville Hotel
The Omni Jacksonville Hotel is the closest hotel in Downtown Jacksonville to all the action. This upscale downtown hotel near the St. John’s River is across the street from the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts and a one block walk to the Jacksonville Landing shopping and entertainment center. Flat screen HDTVs, a modern desks and 24/7 room service will get you through the long Georgia/Florida weekend. Visit www.omnihotels.com to make your reservations for the Georgia/Florida weekend or any weekend/event in 2015-16.
Open daily, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is the only walking safari in Northeast Florida. Visitors will see the earth’s wildlife through interactive and educational experiences. A true family adventure, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is growing and changing daily and is dedicated to consistently improving. The zoo occupies approximately 117 acres and has over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants in its collection. The Zoo hosted more than 900,000 paying visitors in the last year.
5. Jacksonville Farmer’s Market
The Jacksonville Farmer’s Market is open every day of the year and has been a fixture in North Florida since 1938. Great eats, fresh fruits and vegetables and local items is some of what you will find at the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market located at 1810 W. Beaver St.
6. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
About 30 minutes away from Downtown Jacksonville is a seaside community of Ponte Vedra Beach. Located in St. John’s County, Ponte Vedra Beach features great restaurants and quaint shops to go along with the surfing and wakeboarding. Ponta Vedra Beach is also known for golf as it’s the home of the PGA Tour and The Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, which is the permanent home of The Players Championship.
Jacksonville and the surrounding areas are prime fishing territory. Whether you just want to fish with light tackle, head out on the deep sea or go fly fishing, Jacksonville offers many charter services and fishing spots where you can get away and enjoy the day.
Open almost two years, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is changing the way Jacksonville dines. Chef Tom Gray is utilizing all of his industry experience with this gem of a restaurant that features his favorite dishes and some new takes on classic appetizers and entrees. Moxie is all about vibrant American flavors and oooooo those cocktails. Moxie serves lunch and dinner daily, but I recommend it for a mean gameday brunch. Maybe you will get lucky and get the Chef’s Table. Moxie is located just out of Downtown Jacksonville in The Markets at Town Center at 4972 Big Island Drive.
9. Deep Search Records
Located on Lomax St. in the Five Points neighborhood of Jacksonville (near downtown), Deep Search Records is a a brick and mortar vinyl record and book store beloved by fans of a time gone by. Stop by and say “hi” and find that hidden piece of vinyl for your collection or just peruse the inventory.
10. Hemming Park and Plaza
Hemming Park is a 1.54-acre public park, located in the heart of the government center in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Originally a village green, it was the first and is the oldest park in the city. On any given day at Hemming Park, one might find food trucks, a peaceful protest or an engaging event. Hemming Park has once again become the focal point for special events downtown and a world-class stage is needed to facilitate not only current events such as One Spark, Art Walk, and Gastrofest, but also an array of amazing events that pop up from time to time. Get out and take a walk and make sure you check out Hemming Park.
Although is all but guaranteed you will have a great time in Jacksonville, make sure you buckle your seat belts and drive and ride carefully. Go Dawgs!