Jacksonville has had a lot of nicknames over the years. Cowford. The First Coast. The Bold New City of the South. But only one sums up the spirit of a city filled to the brim with dive bars, sandy beaches, walkable gardens, and an alligator farm just down the road: Duval. They’ll tell you downtown is empty or that we don’t deserve an NFL franchise or some other lazy joke. To that, I say: “Go f*** yourself.” This is a city that smells like coffee because of a Maxwell House factory downtown. We’ve got restaurants and breweries that rival any other East Coast city. We’ve got museums that house world-class works of art. We’re building a statue that is supposed to say “JAX” but looks like it says “derp”. And guess what? We like it that way. We embrace the weirdness that makes us unique because… well...it’s a lot more boring to pretend you’re like everybody else.
What to Eat
If you’re looking for Duval’s best seafood, look no further. At Safe Harbor, a family-owned fast casual restaurant and market, you can sit dockside and watch them unload the fresh-caught seafood that will end up on your plate. They have a wide variety of reasonably priced options for the whole family.
You can’t go wrong with barbecue, and Woodpecker’s offers the staples: chicken, turkey, sausage, pork, ribs, and beef brisket, plus sauces made from datil peppers, which are one of the most popular locally grown products in the region.
Biggest tourist attraction
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
The award-winning Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens features over 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 types of plants in the gardens. They also have a strong focus on conservation, spending $1.75 million in the past six years to protect animals and plants locally, nationwide, and globally. If you can gather up eight people, you can get a private guided tour of the Zoo & Gardens for just $5 per person. Check their website to reserve your spot.
Under the radar attraction
Museum of Science & History
Do you want to learn more about the science behind explosions? Or maybe get up close and personal with wildlife native to Florida, like gopher tortoises and king snakes? Or learn about the history of indigenous people in Jacksonville? The Museum of Science & History is the spot for you. Be sure to check out the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium while you’re there. They host laser light shows and a variety of educational programs.
Game day experience
The first thing you should know is that when the NFL came to Jacksonville, we painted yellow jaguar prints on the road leading to the stadium. Did Boston do that? New York? Philadelphia? Didn’t think so. There are plenty of private lots and residential areas around the stadium offering all-day parking for as little as $20… if you’re willing to walk a little bit. Think of it as a way to work off all the beer and BBQ. And make sure you stop by the Bold City Brigade + Teal Street Hooligans tailgate at the intersection of Duval and Bryan streets. There’s hundreds of us, young and old, generous with the food and Fireball. Unless you’re a Titans fan. Then you can get bent.