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Where to Stay in Jacksonville
The sprawled city of Jacksonville is made up of hundreds of neighborhoods, but for the purposes of choosing hotel accommodations, it’s helpful to focus on proximity to the major tourist areas of interest: Downtown Jacksonville, the St. Johns River, Jacksonville’s beaches and the state park areas to the north. If you expect to spend the majority of your time in one of these areas, you can spare yourself lots of highway travel by booking a room nearby. With so many options, cheap hotel deals in Jacksonville can be found close to the points of interest on your itinerary no matter what brings you to the area.
Several nice Downtown hotels put you close to the nightlife district of Jacksonville Landing and most of the city’s museums. Numerous hotels are located along Interstate 95, particularly south of Downtown. The highway follows the St. Johns River, a popular destination for fishing and water sports. To the east, beach resorts of all kinds line First Street, Jacksonville’s oceanfront thoroughfare. The airport hotels north of Downtown are some of the closest accommodations to Big Talbot Island State Park.
Jacksonville Hotel Tips
Several of the city’s more upscale chain hotels are located in Downtown Jacksonville and just across the river in a district called Southbank. As these hotels generally cater to business travelers, their weekend rates are often lower than their mid-week rates. A handful of B&Bs can be found just west of Downtown, along the west bank of the river, and a few more are located near the beach to the east. Accommodations at the beach largely consist of major beachfront resort towers and budget-friendly family hotels, with a few exclusive luxury options at Ponte Vedra Beach just south of Jacksonville. Along I-95 and throughout the rest of Jacksonville, national chain hotels are the most common type of lodging, but brands range from the budget-minded Econo Lodge to the comfortable Courtyard by Marriott.
Jacksonville Hotel Recommendations
When staying at the beach, it’s hard to do better than One Ocean Resort & Spa, a dramatically designed luxury tower parked in front of a wide and impeccably maintained strip of sand. An award-winning spa, gourmet dining, exceptionally personal service and spacious rooms with modern electronics make this resort a standout in the area. Its toughest competition near the beach is the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, where guests of the inn enjoy two championship golf clubs, modern tennis facilities, a series of pools and several other country club features.
The Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront is a good choice if you expect to spend your evenings on the nearby Southbank Riverwalk. Its riverfront rooms have spacious balconies that offer great skyline views, and the on-site Ruth’s Chris Steak House serves some of the best steaks in the city. For a special night, ask for the San Marco, the suite where Elvis Presley was known to stay during numerous stops in Jacksonville.
For a quieter stay, consider one of Jacksonville’s luxurious B&Bs. The Inn at Oak Street offers six individually appointed rooms in a 1902 Frame Vernacular home, and The House on Cherry Street has four charming rooms within walking distance of the notable architecture, parks and gardens of the city’s historic Avondale district.
Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental United States in terms of land area, covering 757 square miles. Not every square mile is packed with points of interest, of course, but Jacksonville’s great wealth of attractions is spread out over a huge swath of this area. For this reason, you’ll definitely want to rent a car to properly explore Jacksonville. Several national rental agencies have lots at Jacksonville International Airport, but you should make your reservations far in advance if your flight to Jacksonville is scheduled near the NCAA Gator Bowl or any Jacksonville Jaguars home event. Car rentals, hotels and even flights can be hard to come by at these times.
There are some public transportation options in Downtown Jacksonville, however. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority operates the Skyway, a limited light rail system spanning several entertainment and shopping districts, and a free street trolley. Though you shouldn’t count on being able to hail a taxi just anywhere in Jacksonville, Gator City Taxi maintains a large fleet and takes around-the-clock ride requests by phone.