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Beach beneath the Jacksonville pier

Florida

Jacksonville: Hip, Young, Fit and Green!

By: Jody Sidle Short

Austin McKinley
1 of 6
Golfing at one of Jacksonville's beautiful and challenging courses

Florida

Jacksonville: Hip, Young, Fit and Green!

By: Jody Sidle Short

Austin McKinley
2 of 6
Shopping, dining and entertainment at Jacksonville Landing

Florida

Jacksonville: Hip, Young, Fit and Green!

By: Jody Sidle Short

Austin McKinley
3 of 6
Main Street Bridge leading to downtown Jacksonville

Florida

Jacksonville: Hip, Young, Fit and Green!

By: Jody Sidle Short

Austin McKinley
4 of 6
A day of boating in Jacksonville

Florida

Jacksonville: Hip, Young, Fit and Green!

By: Jody Sidle Short

Austin McKinley
5 of 6
Pathway over the beach dunes on Jacksonville Beach

Florida

Jacksonville: Hip, Young, Fit and Green!

By: Jody Sidle Short

Austin McKinley
6 of 6
  • States:
    Florida

Arriving in Jacksonville, Florida, I had no idea I was in for such a treat!

With Jacksonville being the youngest city in Florida with an average age of 35, it’s not surprising to find lots of breweries offering amazing craft beers, nationally acclaimed restaurants and a multitude of outdoors activities for visitors of all ages. This “river city by the sea” has so much to see and do, it’s tough to know where to start.

Hiking and Surfing in Hanna Park

I suggest that you begin your trip at Hanna Park. There are more than 32 kilometers of trails, including some that will seduce even the most adventurous biker, and plenty for the easy rider or walker. No matter your approach to the trails, you will be surrounded by majestic trees and colorful birds. You can access the beach from several locations in the park, including the area known as the “poles,” which is a fantastic place to surf. The beaches here are very wide, with dunes as the backdrop, and they tend to be a little less crowded than other beaches in Jacksonville. For me, this was the perfect place to soak up some rays.

Beautiful scenery of Hanna Park beach in Jacksonville

Beautiful scenery of Hanna Park beach in Jacksonville
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Austin McKinley

The Pier and Dining in Jacksonville Beach

After a morning at the park, I headed to the Jacksonville Beach Pier, which was bustling with people fishing for their dinner, not surprising considering the Atlantic Ocean is full of tasty fish. I grabbed a coffee a block away from the pier in an area full of restaurants, boutiques and bars with names such as the Blind Rabbit and The Shim Sham Room. Within a few miles, you’ll also find Neptune Beach and its fun bars like the Lemon Bar and Pete’s Bar, the oldest bar in Jacksonville.

With so many great options throughout the Jacksonville Beach area, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. When I opted for TacoLu, I was far from disappointed. The lunch special, an ahi tuna taco, and the shrimp taco were honestly the best two tacos I have ever had, and everything else that was served looked equally delicious. They also have a huge tequila menu – need I say more?

Casting lines off the popular fishing spot, the Jacksonville Pier

Casting lines off the popular fishing spot, the Jacksonville Pier
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Austin McKinley

Golf Courses Galore

Next up in Jacksonville was a tour of just one of the hundreds of golf courses in the area. I’m not a golfer, but with the gorgeous views each course offers, that beautiful blue Jacksonville sky and warm temperatures, I can imagine a round of golf anywhere in this city would be hard to beat, even on the days that your game is not up to par.

Enjoying a sunny day at a Jacksonville golf course

Enjoying a sunny day at a Jacksonville golf course
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Austin McKinley
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Exciting Nightlife

Later in the afternoon, I drove into downtown Jacksonville, crossing over the St. Johns River. That day, there was a huge event that had downtown buzzing with life. The streets were packed with vendors, live music and delicious smells of food. Apparently, Jacksonville has events and festivals year-round, but the wonderful vibe I felt is inherent to the city, regardless of what is going on.

My tour of the city was almost done, but I had to make time for a quick pint at Fionn MacCool’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, located at the Jacksonville Landing, where a huge list of beers awaits your perusal. A quick ride on the water taxi across the St John’s was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Jacksonville, I will be back!

View of downtown Jacksonville from a water taxi on the St. Johns River

View of downtown Jacksonville from a water taxi on the St. Johns River
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Austin McKinley