Jacksonville Beach in Winter

Jacksonville is Florida’s biggest city, in area and population, and was a great stop on our road trip! How could you go wrong with a place that has 22 miles of beaches and averages 270 days of sunshine per year? There is also a big-league sports scene if you are a fan.

Looking for a relaxing stop, we stayed at Jacksonville Beach, and it did not disappoint. The beaches are public and pet friendly (if you are bringing the pup along). We visited in December and had some cooler wet weather, but that did not stop us.

From the beaches to parks, family-friendly food scene/museums and affordable hotel rates, Jacksonville was listed on Lonely Planet’s world list of “10 Best Value Destinations.”

We have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about Jacksonville or our trip please shoot us an email!

Accommodations

We had the pleasure of being the first guests to stay in the newly renovated Hampton Inn in Jacksonville Beach. Located directly on the beach, this hotel is prime location. We woke up every morning with a gorgeous view of the beach, free breakfast, and a heated pool with four waterfalls, what more could you ask for?!

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They also have poolside activities for the kiddos with Darren (he is so full of energy and great with the kids!). We made sand art and Christmas ornaments while we were there, and there were several other fun activitied throughout the day.

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Our room was completely renovated and we loved the new decor. There is a refrigerator in the room, which is always a bonus for us. We were within walking distance of several delicious restaurants also!

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Adventures

Jacksonville Beach Deck the Chairs (JBDTC) – This was pretty amazing and highly recommend – JBDTC is an annual lighted sculptural exhibit using lifeguard chairs. The event was started to promote local business, instill public pride, and share cultural diversity through creative expression. And best of all, it is FREE! We spent about two hours here watching the lights and playing with the exhibits.

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Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens – With 2,000 animals across 117 acres, this is a fun stop for the whole family. They have a place to feed the giraffes (additional cost), but none seemed to be hungry when we visited so be sure to check before paying! You can pet sting rays, watch tigers in their unique walk-through tunnel system, ride a train (additional fee), and so much more. It started raining on us towards the end, so bring an umbrella as Florida weather is unpredictable!

Beach – It goes without saying that the beach is always a fun adventure! We did have quite bit of rain on our trip here, but thankfully we had packed our rain gear and were still able to get out there and enjoy it! We made sand castles, took walks, looked for shells, and relaxed and bonded as a family.

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Appetite

Biggie’s Pizza – So good we ate here twice! This is a short walk from the hotel and had some delicious new york style pizza!

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Kazu Sushi Burrito – This was a quick stop for a poke bowl. It is set up like a Moe’s, where everything is already made and you tell them what you want in your bowl. Pretty neat and tasted good. Ask for extra sauce, as it lacks a bit of flavor.

Sake House – Please visit this place if you like sushi! It is DELICIOUS! They set up everything in such amazing designs too – presentation is key! We also got a free roll as an appetizer. Amazing sushi, definiely visit.

Col Mustard’s Phat Burgers – Good food, a bit of slow service. We enjoyed our meal from here, with a cheesesteak, quesadilla, and two kids hot dog meals. The hot dogs took over 25 minutes to come out, and we were the only people there. Order ahead and pickup to acoid the wait.

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