Jacksonville is a unique city built around the St Johns River and stretching out to meet the Atlantic Ocean. This river city by the sea has more coastline than any other city in the United States and is also the largest city by population in Florida. Blessed with lovely beaches, a thriving nightlife, and the largest urban park system in the nation, Jacksonville is also well-placed to explore the many neighboring gems that lie in its surroundings.
Here are some of the best day trips that you can enjoy from Florida’s Jacksonville:
1. Day trip to Ginnie Springs
In the stifling heat of summer, cool off in the crystal-clear, cool waters at Ginnie Springs. Open-water diving and cave diving are popular activities at the park due to the clear waters and extensive underwater caverns beneath the ater’s surface. The dive centre at the park is PADI certified. Bring your own floats or rent one from 5.60 USD a day and drift lazily down the series of springs. Canoes and kayaks are also available for rent if you wish to explore the springs in that way. The waters are an inviting shade of emerald blue that maintain roughly the same temperature year round (72F / 22C) so you can take a dip, go snorkelling, or enjoy tubing no matter the season.
Address: 5000 Ne 60th Ave., High Springs, Florida 32643
Price: Adults: 13.09 USD; Children (7 - 14): 3 USD
Opening Hours: Mon - Thurs 8 am - 7 pm; Fri - Sat 8 am - 10 pm; Sun 8 am - 8 pm (summer hours)
Contact: +1 (386) 454-7188
Website: Ginnie Springs
Amelia Island is not just about the beach, it has historical value as well. As you walk along the main street you pass shops, restaurants, and old buildings from the past. Stop by the Welcome Center for more information on what's happening. Worth a trip to spend a day. Flworldwanderer
Named after Princess Amelia, the daughter of George II of Great Britain, this barrier island is a tranquil retreat with its champagne sands, undulating sand dunes, charming historic town centre, and luxury resorts. The island is just a short 45-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville, connected by two bridges to the mainland.
Do some light shopping in the array of boutique shops in Fernandina Beach’s historic town centre and stop for a signature cocktail at Palace Saloon, the oldest and longest-operating saloon in Florida. Hop on the Amelia Island Trolley for a historic tour of downtown Fernandina.
As the sun sets and casts a golden hue on the island, take a stroll along the beach and look out for seashells and sharks’ teeth in the sand.
Horseback Beach Rides on Amelia Island
Departure Address: Fernandina Beach
Price: From 87.99 USD
Departure Timings: 8 am, 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 5 pm and 6 pm
Duration: Around 1 hour
Amelia Island Trolleys
Address: 31 S. 4th Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Price: Adults 20 USD, Children 10 USD
Timings: Mon - Sat 12.30 pm and 2.30 pm, Sun 2.30 pm
Duration: Around 1 hour and 15 minutes
Contact: [email protected]
Website: Amelia Island Trolleys
The Palace Saloon
Address: The Palace Saloon, 117 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Opening Hours: 12 noon - 2 am daily
Contact: (844) 441-2444
Website: The Palace Saloon
St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest city in the country and, in its charming architecture, you will see evidence of its native and colonial past, with influences from the Spanish, Greeks, English, and Native Americans. You’ll almost forget you’re in America because the town has such a European feel to it. The most prominent landmark in St. Augustine is the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, which is a legacy of the early Spanish empire and the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Drink from the legendary Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth and you might just feel a surge of energy coursing through your body (use your imagination!).
Only 50 minutes away from Jacksonville, the historical city of St. Augustine will enchant you and keep you more than occupied with its slew of attractions.
Castillo de San Marcos
Address: 1 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, FL 32084, United States
Price: 10 USD (valid for 7 consecutive days)
Opening Hours: 8.45 am - 5.15 pm
Contact: +1 904-829-6506
Website: Castillo de San Marcos
Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaelogical Park
Address: 11 Magnolia Ave, St Augustine, FL 32084, United States
Price: Adults 15 USD; Children (6 - 12) 9 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm
Contact: +1 904-829-3168
St. Augustine Beach and Old Downtown Helicopter Tour
Departure Address: St. Augustine Airport
Price: From 154.99 USD
Departure Time: Tours depart throughout the day
4. Day trip to St. Marys, Georgia (Cumberland Island)
Depart from the gateway city of St. Marys, Georgia, to the Cumberland Island National Seashore, which is only accessible by ferry or kayak.
Wild horses roam this island, the largest and southernmost of Georgia’s Golden Isles, and the seashore is full of gems. A wild streak runs deep in Cumberland Island, where undeveloped windswept beaches, freshwater wetlands, and unspoiled maritime forests are just some of the many ecosystems to be found here. Lots of wildlife calls this island home, and visitors have the privilege of experiencing all of the wilderness by the beach or on a hike through the forest trails.
Also, look out for Greyfield Inn, a grand mansion overlooking the sea, where John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette held their secret wedding in 1996.
Do note that, while swimming is allowed anywhere on the island, there are no lifeguards on duty. The freshwater ponds are also home to snakes and alligators, so be sure to stay clear of them.
Cumberland Island Tour - Lands & Legacies
Starting Point: Sea Camp Ranger Station
Price: 45 USD
Departure Time: Shortly after the 9.45 am ferry arrives on the island
Duration: 5 - 6 hours
Website: Cumberland Island Ferry
5. Day trip to Blue Spring State Park
About 2 hours drive from Jacksonville, the Blue Spring State Park is a designated refuge for the West Indian manatee. From approximately mid-November to March, visitors can stand on a raised boardwalk to watch hundreds of manatees frolicking in the water. During this period, all water activities are prohibited. Swimming or diving with the manatees is strictly forbidden. In other months, visitors can go swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving in the spring’s crystal clear water, with its pleasant temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius).
Blue Spring State Park
Address: 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763, United States
Price: 6 USD per vehicle
Opening Hours: 8 am - 8 pm
Contact: +1 386-775-3663
Website: Blue Spring State Park
6. Day trip to Winter Park
Travel two hours south from sunny Jacksonville, Florida, and you’ll find yourself treated to a spectacular location in its own right: Winter Park, Florida! Summer has never been better than the opportunities in Winter Park. Recognized for its wide open, outdoor spaces, Winter Park exists as a virtual staple for anyone vacationing anywhere nearby.
Check out the town’s outdoor spaces, including Central Park, the gem of Park Avenue. Get a break from the shopping district in which it exists, when you step foot in a park optimized for your enjoyment. Even when this expansive venue isn’t being used for one of its many seasonal events, it’s a sight to behold. Fitted with delicate fountains, and well-preserved leafy spaces, it’s a park well worth your investment. Get to know the Rose Garden, a frequent wedding venue located on park premises.
When you’ve had your fill of a portfolio of outdoor beauty, one that includes the Mead Botanical Gardens and the Harry P. Leu Gardens, familiarize yourself with local art culture, at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art! The Winter Park Historical Museum also provides a wonderful snapshot of local culture and background. In the evening, dine in any of the town’s sidewalk cafes, for world-class culinary memories in the making!
Address: Winter Park, FL
Website: Winter Park
7. Day trip to the Ichetucknee Springs
Less than 90 minutes from Jacksonville, you’ll find one of the state’s vastly underappreciated state parks, which doubles as a superb day trip in the making! Welcome to the outdoor majesty that is Ichetucknee Springs. Along the banks of the Ichetucknee Springs, it’s a haven for outdoor exploration and wildlife appreciation, that allows visitors and locals alike to understand more about the ecosystem’s importance in the larger natural community.
Take advantage of so many recreational activities, all conveniently offered on the premises. Bring the entire family along for the ride, and enjoy a picnic under aged trees. Or saunter through lush grounds, taking in the wildlife at your own pace. If you’re more of the adventurous type, take a dip in a cool environment, the perfect placebo for hot seasonal days. Snorkel in clear waters, or swim from one bank to the other! Take a canoe across the surface of the river, and tour untouched river banks, alive with indigenous wildlife.
Catch sight of a wide diversity of species thriving in park confines, among them white-0tailed deer, wood ducks and blue herons! Concessions are even offered, during some of the busiest times of the year for your convenience. Tube on the river, relax on the banks, or venture through dense forests, and get back in touch with Floridian wildlife!
Address: 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27 Fort White, FL 32038
Website: Ichetucknee Springs
Outward bound from Jacksonville
The bustle of downtown Jacksonville is exciting, but can there are just some weekends you need a quick respite. If so, pick a destination, pack your bags, and get ready for a road trip!
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