FLORIDA ~ A Travel Services Guide:

Jacksonville, Florida's River City!

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NORTH_ATLANTIC
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___CENTRAL___
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Heron House Court
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Jacksonville, Florida: Skyline!

Named after General (later President) Andrew Jackson in 1822 - Jacksonville, Florida has grown from a small 16th century settlement to become the 15th largest city in the USA.  There are 21 public golf courses, two Riverwalks, a terrific zoo, four forts, 20 miles of soft white sandy beaches and many historical sites in the area.

[The latitude of Jacksonville, Florida is 30.331N.  The longitude is -81.655W.  Elevation is 16 feet]

One of the state's oldest cities and a major port and commercial center, Jacksonville is called Florida's River City by the Sea.  This is because it was settled along both sides of the St. Johns River where that body of water meets the Atlantic Ocean.  The largest U.S. city in terms of square miles (840), Jacksonville includes the communities of Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Mayport.

The waterfront is the focus of the vibrant downtown, with inexpensive river taxis available to take passengers between the two sides of the city and to the beaches.  Jacksonville Landing, on the northbank of the river, is a festival marketplace with more than 60 shops, restaurants, the Jacksonville Maritime Museum, and an active nightlife.  Stroll down RiverWalk, the 1.2 mile boardwalk on the city's southbank riverfront.  There you will find eateries, bars, a marina, and pavilions.

Besides offering numerous entertainment options, Jacksonville is a cultural center.  Visitors can enjoy the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, ballet theater, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Science and History, and the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens.

The area's rich history is preserved in Jacksonville's Black Heritage Trail.  The heritage, which reaches back to 1565 when slaves were first brought to the New World, is marked by the sites that comprise the trail.  They include Edward Waters College, Florida's first independent institution of higher learning for African-Americans, and Kingsley Plantation, Florida's oldest standing plantation house, containing the remains of 23 slave quarters.

The city's past can also be traced at the Jacksonville Historical Center on Southbank RiverWalk. You will see the growth from its beginnings as an Indian community to the arrival of French settlers in 1562 to its present-day status as a dominant port city.

Although Jacksonville has the only skyscrapers in northeast Florida, Mother Nature is not far away.  A few miles east is Little Talbot Island State Park, a rare undeveloped barrier island with five miles of beaches.  Just to the north, Big Talbot Island greets visitors with three miles of undeveloped beaches, dunes, salt marshes, and a driftwood forest.  A popular place to fish is from the 983-foot-long Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier.

Getting to Jacksonville is quite easy.  All roads seem to lead to the city.  Two major interstate highways, I-95 and I-10, intersect downtown and have good directional markers along the way.  I-95 is the north-south route from Maine to Miami and I-10 runs from the west coast to the east.  Other routes include U.S. 1, which runs the length of the east coast, and U.S. 17 from the west.

If you come by air, Jacksonville International Airport is 13 miles north of downtown, near the intersection of I-95 and I-295.  Baggage claim is served solely by Gator City Taxi, although other transportation serves the airport.

Jacksonville also has an Amtrak station and a Greyhound bus terminal.  City buses operate throughout Jacksonville and the beaches. Fares are 75 cents for the town route and $1.35 for the beaches.  Water taxi service is available for points along St. Johns, the nation's longest north-flowing river.  The St. Johns River Ferry is the only public auto ferry operating in the state.

Driving within the city can be a bit confusing because the river divides Jacksonville.  Most routes into the city cross one of the seven bridges.  The Main Street Bridge leads to downtown.  The street system downtown is a grid pattern.  Main Street divides the city east and west, while Bay Street is the north-south divider.  Parking meters take 25 cents per hour.  Skyway Express, an elevated car system that glides above the busy streets, operates along the convention center, Jacksonville Landing, Southbank, and Northbank.

Finding a place to stay: With more than 13,000 rooms to choose from, the city offers accommodations ranging from quaint bed and breakfast inns to luxury riverfront hotels and beach getaways.  Price ranges fit every budget.

Jacksonville also features a deep water port, with a lively cruise ship industry.  You can book a cruise on some of the major cruise lines, including Carnival, Celebration, and Zenith.  Cruises are usually for 5 to 7 days, with destinations to the Bahamas and other ports in the Caribbean.

From seashore to forest, nurtured by the majestic St. Johns River, Jacksonville offers wonderful opportunities for visitor and resident alike.

Located in Northeast Florida at the crossroads of two interstate highways, Jacksonville is the largest city in the contiguous United States in land area, a major port, the insurance and financial center of the state, site of U.S. Navy bases and the home of the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) is 15 minutes from downtown by car.  It is served by 15 major and regional airlines that offer 250 daily flights to and from most major cities in the country and is an international gateway.

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