Depressed and down over a 1-7 start to the Falcons 2019 campaign? There is still an opportunity to catch some good football, with an exciting quarterback and a team that is causing a stir in the South. It’s also a great opportunity for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta in the fall. I’m talking about a few days in Jacksonville, Fla. enjoying some sun, fun and football.
With 22 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, a busy Downtown riverfront and unique neighborhood districts that show off a vibrant, yet relaxed lifestyle. The flourishing waterfront destination’s natural beauty and temperate weather lay the foundation for an abundance of coastal exploration and outdoor adventure. Encompassing more than 800 square miles, Jacksonville blends urban bustle with small town charm to showcase boutique accommodations, an eclectic culinary scene, artisanal shopping, deep-rooted historical sites, and football.
The Jaguars, even though one of the NFL’s youngest teams possess a dedicated and intelligent fan base. The team, owned by Pakistani-born businessman, Shahid Khanan is worth an estimated $770 million, but it’s value to North Florida is priceless. Games at TIAA Bank Field are easy to get to and I rate the stadium experience as “very good.” Stay downtown and it’s a quick Uber or an economical golf cart ride, ride to the entrance of the stadium. Golf carts are dispatched by the city all over downtown to provide ride rides for fans. It’s cost is leave your drive a tip. Grab a bite outside the stadium where there are many tents and booths set up with varied food. Or once inside TIAA there is a little of everything. Offerings on the “Club Side” of the stadium include pizza, Mexican and BBQ.
You won’t even feel like you are downtown in Downtown Jacksonville. You will be adjacent to the St. Johns River, and minutes away from pristine white sand beaches, Downtown Jacksonville is an area to explore. Cross over one of the bridges spanning the river or take a sunset water taxi ride for the best city views! The North and South banks have an urban vibe with a cool atmosphere. Fortune 500 companies call the city’s core home. Weekdays, thousands of professionals and visitors fill the streets enjoying unique lunch and dining destinations, world-class museums, and assorteed nightlife options, from casual bars to upscale hangouts.
A Day Fishing
Virtually unlimited access to numerous fresh and saltwater fishing options. Fish Jacksonville’s riverfront shoreline, drop a line from a bridge or pier, or head out from many of the accessible marinas positioned along the shoreline. To get the full experience, it’s advisable that anglers charter a boat for unmatched deep-sea fishing or you can also rent one if staying inland. Partner up with expert fishing guide, like the experts at Team Buck Rogers and head out for a day of fishing, fun and bonding over the open water. Let your guide do the work and navigate to the best spots, while you enjoy pulling in one to remember.
Just a few blocks from the center of downtown, the Riverside Arts Market is the perfect chance to spend a morning with Jacksonville locals and enjoy some food, music and shopping. More than just a farmer’s market, the market which takes place every Saturday showcases some of the best artisanal goods from Jacksonville’s makers and live music next to the enchanting St. Johns River.
JAX Ale Trail
Don’t waste a moment and jump on the Jax Ale Trail and drink your tail off (responsibly, of course.) Take in the best Jacksonville craft beer and get your passport stamped to win prizes. The region has a growing craft beer scene and there will be something new to try each time to try the Trail.
Where to Stay:
Jacksonville Omni Downtown, 245 Water St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
Right in the center of Downtown Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Omni is walking distance to many attractions and with beautifully decorated rooms and suites, a pool with dramatic views of the river and newly renovated spots onsite like J Bar and Juliette’s, you’ll be in good hands for the week or weekend. Experience convenient access to TIAA Field, Times Union Center, Memorial Arena and other popular attractions, the Omni puts you in the midst of the excitement of the River City. Before you leave town, don’t miss the Omni’s Sunday brunch. A culinary tour of Jacksonville and the world is offered right off the hotel lobby. Traditional brunch favorites and some surprises that will delight your palette. A special mention to the staff at this Omni. They are on point and ready to assist in any way they can.
Where to Eat:
Experience everything from casual to classic southern comfort, infused with the flavors of the coast and a dash of international flavors that will get your taste buds flowing.
The Fish Company, 725-12 Atlantic Blvd. Atlantic Beach, Florida
Venture over to Atlantic Beach for fresh seafood. Some of the best seafood available in casual restaurant setting. This restaurant offers a full menu with their Grilled Fresh Fish of the Day, including many local fish choices, as well as daily specials. A Raw Bar in the center of the restaurant showcases crustaceans and other fresh steamed & raw seafoods. Don’t miss their homemade desserts! Choose from outdoor or indoor seating and a full bar!
A favorite of locals that serves American fare with a regional twist. Serving up breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Everything from waffles to salads and other delicious plates. Food and ingredients are locally-sourced, so you know they are fresh.
Bellwether – 100 N Laura St #100, Jacksonville, FL 32202
Enjoy the minimalist decor and the thoughtfully sourced, farm-to-table American fare at good prices. Great service and atmosphere.
North Florida has never looked so good or been as fun as a football weekend in Jacksonville.
To look at all there is to see and do in Jacksonville, go to www.VisitJacksonville.com.