When I think of Florida vacation destinations, Jacksonville is not typically a Florida city that tops my list of vacation hot spots in the Sunshine State.
Thanks to a recent two-day stay in Jacksonville for a girls getaway, I discovered there is so much more to Jacksonville, Florida than I realized.
In fact, I was extremely surprised to learn just how little I knew about Jacksonville.
56 fascinating facts about Jacksonville to be precise. And I knew none of them.
So I decided to put together a list that highlights all these great things about this underrated city, to help you see why you should consider Jacksonville for your next girls getaway, guys getaway, or family vacation to Florida.
56 Fascinating Facts About Jacksonville, Florida
Living Large In Jacksonville
- With 1,100 miles of shoreline, and 22 miles of beaches, Jacksonville has more shoreline than any other US city!
- In addition to being Florida’s largest city, Jacksonville holds the title for largest in land area – 841 square miles.
- Jacksonville is situated on the banks of the St. Johns River – one of the few northward-flowing rivers in the world, and the longest north-flowing river in the United States.
- First known by the name “Cowford” (as a place where cows could easily “ford” across the St. Johns River), Jacksonville was eventually renamed after the territory’s first provisional governor – and 7th US President – Andre Jackson.
- Jacksonville is home to one of the largest military presences in the United State – only behind San Diego and Norfolk, Virginia.
- Lovingly known as JAX to its residents, Jacksonville gets an average of 270 days of sunshine per year.
- There are 22 reefs in Jacksonville, and 38 reefs just off this city’s Atlantic coast.
- Trip Advisor users selected Jacksonville as one of the “Top Emerging Destinations In The US”, with JAX coming in at #10.
- With 160 hotels, and 18,000 hotel rooms, there’s plenty of choice of where to lay your head in Jacksonville.
Get Around In Jacksonville
- Jacksonville is home to a 38-foot deepwater port.
- It is one of the top 2 vehicle handling ports in the United States.
- JAX is served by 4 airports, 3 seaports, a highway system that links the city to 3 major interstates, and a rail system served by 3 railroads.
- Connecting Jacksonville to Fort George Island, the St. Johns River Ferry is the only public ferry left in Florida (in operation since 1874)
- Visitors to Jacksonville can take advantage of more than 90 flights daily to this Florida city.
- Jacksonville International Airport is listed by the Airports Council International as one of the Best Airport’s In North America when it comes to customer service.
I would have to agree with this. The customer service I received at this airport was hands down the best customer service I have ever received at an airport. In fact, the customer service I received at JAX was so outstanding, when I arrived at my gate, I sat there for five minutes shocked at the entire customer service experience I had just received – from the minute I stepped onto the sidewalk at the airport entrance, right through to getting onto my flight. It was VERY noticeable.
***Please note: None of the staff at JAX knew who I was, or the purpose of my trip, so I was not getting any sort of special attention. This is how they do customer service at JAX. Kudos to all the staff!
Also, check out this amazing image that towers over visitors at one of the airport gates…
Jacksonville Is Full Of Good Sports
- Jacksonville’s Everbank Field has been voted one of the best fan experiences in the NFL. This is a bucket list destination for any big football fans!
- And speaking of Everbank Field, this stadium’s 16-foot long Jaguar statue weighs in at a whopping 2,850 lbs.
- The first-ever college football game was played in Jacksonville. It was in 1933 that the first-ever Florida-Georgia game was played in this city. Jacksonville was abuzz with excitement during our time in this great city – the 2017 Florida-Georgia game happened on the day we flew home from JAX.
- Jacksonville is home to 8 Pro sport teams.
- Northeast Florida and Jacksonville are home to 1,220 holes of golf, and 70 private and public golf courses.
- Jacksonville’s Taxslayer Bowl is 71 years old, making it the 6th oldest college bowl. It was also the first-ever televised college bowl game.
Tap Into Endless Food And Drink Options
- 14 of “America’s Best Chefs” call Jacksonville home.
- Jacksonville Farmers Market, established in 1938, is the oldest farmers market in the State of Florida.
- There are over 100 ethnic restaurants in Jacksonville.
- You’ll find over 20 locally owned, farm-to-table restaurants in JAX.
- The Jax Ale Trail boasts 8 breweries and counting!
- There are over 100 licensed food trucks serving up delicious food in Jacksonville.
- For those with special food requirements, Jacksonville is home to over 30 restaurants with vegan menus, and 22 with gluten-free options.
- Beer lovers can enjoy over 600 Taps and 1,000 brew options in bottles on Jacksonville’s King Street.
- It’s a question of the day, with an answer provide by you, that gets you your fabulous meal order served up at Jacksonville’s own Maple Street Biscuit Company.
Quality ingredients, great food, unique menu items, and a great sense of community, make the Maple Street Biscuit Company a most necessary dining option while in Jacksonville. Insider Tip: The Smokey Mountain Mac & Cheese is incredible, the Rural Oatmeal is deliciously satisfying, and the Maple Vanilla Latte was a favourite for this maple-loving Canadian. Then there are all the drool-worthy biscuits…
We need a Maple Street Biscuit Company in Canada! Hint. Hint.
- Acclaimed restaurant, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, is the only locally owned restaurant built from the ground up, at the Jacksonville St. Johns Town Center (home to 150 retail stores). “Committed to sustainable sourcing and working with local and artisan producers” Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is a gem amongst a sea of chain restaurants, and one that should be on your foodie list when you visit Jacksonville.
A “Nature-al” Place To Vacation
- There are 60 species of fish in JAX waters.
- The Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens features over 2,400 rare and exotic animals. Its renowned botanical gardens are home to over 1,000 species of plants.
- There are 264 bird species in Jacksonville, including this guy (taken at Kayak Amelia)…
- Jacksonville boasts over 450 campsites – all of them are pet friendly!
- Home to the country’s biggest urban park system, with 80,000 acres of parks, Jacksonville’s park system is 4 times the size of the island of Manhattan.
Jacksonville Has “He-ART”
- The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra is the largest full-time orchestra in Florida, and ranks as one of the Top 30 symphonies in the United States.
- Jacksonville is home to more than 30 art galleries.
- You’ll find at least 67 permanent pieces of art in public places in Jacksonville – and over 13 murals.
- The Riverside Arts Market is the largest weekly festival in the State of Florida.
- There are more than 10 museums in Jacksonville.
- Jacksonville hosts over 22 annual music festivals.
- There are over 27 live music venues throughout Jacksonville.
- Jacksonville is the birthplace of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band, .38 Special, and Molly Hatchet.
- There are 3 Artwalks in Jacksonville – First Wednesday Downtown Artwalk, Jax Beach ArtWalk, North Beaches ArtWalk.
- The Alhambra Dinner Theatre is the oldest continuously operating dinner theatre in the United States. After dining on a delicious 3-course meal, sit back, relax and enjoy a top-notch theatre production. There isn’t a bad seat in the house. Your ticket provides you with an entire evening of great food and entertainment!
Jacksonville Is Full Of Attraction(s)
- The Jacksonville Beach Pier is 1,320 feet long
- Jacksonville’s Adventure Landing has 12 waterslides, 4 “Xtreme” slides, and 8 slides in The Pirate’s Play Village.
- 263 Jaguar paw prints can be found on Bay Street from the Main Street Bridge To EverBank Field.
- The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium is the largest single-lens digital dome planetarium in the United States.
- With over 1.1 million square feet of retail space, the St. Johns Town Center offers some of the best shopping in Jacksonville. For those looking for great shopping near the beach, check out Beaches Town Center.
- 40 big cats call the Catty Shack Ranch home. This wildlife sanctuary has 24 tigers, 5 lions, 6 cougars, 4 leopards and 1 bobcat. The Catty Shack Ranch is the only up-close, night feeding experience in Jacksonville.
- Jacksonville is home to a Historic Hotel of America, the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant. The stark white facade of this Spanish-influenced hotel provides photographers with plenty of great photo opps.
- The Kona USA Skatepark in Jacksonville is the oldest surviving skatepark in the world (est. 1977).
- The Jacksonville Equestrian Center has 78 full RV hookups, and is part of the Cecil Corridor which has 32 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails.
- In Jacksonville, you can go urban kayaking in the middle of the city on the St. Johns River or, take a tour amongst 40 miles of intracoastal waterway with an expert guide from Kayak Amelia. Keep an eye out for fascinating Florida wildlife like manatee and dolphins, and don’t forget to ask your guide to let you taste some Sea Wort!
For more on this great city, and the other Florida destinations we travelled to, check out my “Planning a Girls Getaway” post.
What would you like to do or see if you had the chance to visit Jacksonville? Do you have any other fascinating facts about Jacksonville to share? Tell us in the comments section! We’d love to hear them!