Jacksonville, Florida is an ideal portal to the warm charms of the Sunshine State. Located where the St. John's River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville is a vibrant urban city offering exciting tourist attractions and historic reminders of its ties to bygone river life. In contrast, Jacksonville Beach is 21 miles of oceanfront beach with sprawling sand dunes, surfing and solitude. The best of both worlds await.
A great place to dock is Beach Marine, located on the Intracoastal Waterway and Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville Beach. The marina has been family owned and operated for 30 years and is the only full-service facility in the area. They offer all the conveniences boaters want and a complete service center for repairs and maintenance. The marina is only a two-minute walk to the beach, and Nipper's Beach Grill and Billy's Boathouse Grill are popular restaurants located on-site. Beach Marine has the only marine store in the area, and you can reprovision at a nearby grocery store or use a concierge service to deliver to your boat.
One of the area's newest attractions is right across the street from the marina. Adventure Landing is a family fun park complete with water slides, a riverway, go karts, miniature golf, laser-tag arena, and arcade. On the beach, the Jacksonville Fishing Pier juts far into the Atlantic with an amazing view and chance to spot dolphins. A walk along the coast displays a quiet stretch of sand and surf, and there is a quaint town center with small shops, pubs, and restaurants to explore. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is an interactive and educational stop with more than 1,500 exotic animals and is free if you arrive by boat.
Cruise back in time and visit the nearby port of St. Augustine, the country's oldest city. This bright gem is a contrast to its surrounding coast. In 1565, the future site of the city was a bloody battle ground for the Spanish crusade against the French.
Today, it is a showcase of Spanish architecture and colonial history. Visit preserved historic landmarks like Castillo de SanMarcos, a 17th-century fortress with 12-foot thick walls that could protect 1,500 civilians against raids on the city. Another attraction is the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park that holds a re-creation of the famous Ponce de Leon quest for immortality.
Camachee Cove, a full service 260 slipmarina can accommodate boats up to 160 feet. They offer courtesy cars into town, the Kingfish Grill Restaurant on-site, Fishtales Market, a full service yard with supplies and more (904-829-5676, camacheeisland.com). Dock at Conch House Marina Resort (904-824-4347), a 194 slip marina located just off the ICW with a restaurant, a motel and a lively music scene, where you can enjoy reggae every Sunday.
Cruise farther south and visit Palm Coast situated along the A1A River and Sea Trail. It is a true golfer's and nature-lover's paradise. You can take your pick of upscale golf courses, fish in the ICW or walk through lush nature preserves and formal gardens. Plan a stay at the Marina at Hammock Beach Resort for an ultimate retreat on the ICW. The private club setting offers signature golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, tennis courts, a multilevel resort water park and deluxe spa facilities to rejuvenate and refresh you after a day in the sunshine (386-597-5030, hammockbeach.com).
When you think Daytona, you think speed. Daytona Beach has a long history of racing events that started in 1903 with a large sand competition that left spectators thrilled to watch cars reaching speeds of 68 miles per hour screaming down the beach.The attraction continues today with prestigious races like the Daytona 500 and NASCAR spectacles that draw eight million fans a year.
Visitors can rent an ATV and cruise down the shoreline, or lie back and enjoy the beautiful miles of sandy beach.The center of fun is Daytona Beach and Boardwalk, where you can find lots of family attractions.Adventure Yacht Harbor is an excellent marina choice. It is located just off the ICW in a sheltered harbor on Halifax River. The beach is just three blocks away from this quiet, tree-lined neighborhood.
This 135-slip marina offers open and covered slips for boats up to 65 feet. Amenities include a well-stocked marine/ convenience store, gas and diesel fuel, and a boaters lounge (386-756-2180, adventureyachtharbor.com).