Happy Holidays to all.
As an On the Banks resident from Jacksonville (I grew up there before I moved to New Jersey, and about half of my family still live in the area, so I travel there frequently), I wanted to share some thoughts for those making the trip to the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
Work and family obligations here in New Jersey unfortunately don’t allow me to make the trip this year, but for those who do travel, there are some fun things to consider / do in the Jacksonville area. Here is a short list, which is completely skewed based on my personal interests and perspectives:
- Where to stay: In my opinion, not quite professional, downtown Jacksonville is not the place to stay (unless you really value the proximity to the stadium itself). It’s pretty quiet and a lot of things tend to close early. I would recommend hiring a car at the airport instead, or failing that potentially worth the (not cheap) rideshare service to / from downtown to stay in the beach area instead. There are plenty of beachfront hotels in Jacksonville’s three satellite seaside communities (Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Atlantic Beach), next to a beach (free! Really cool!) At Jax Beach in particular there should be have multiple bars / restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating as long as temperatures stay above 70 – Jacksonville residents tend to think of anything under 70 to be freezing cold.
- Spend time by the beach: Earlier I mentioned that the beach is free and really nice. I can’t stress this enough, and with high temperatures projected into the 70s above about 80s the day before and on Gator Bowl Day, I would expect locals and visitors to want to soak up the sun. (For Jacksonville, these temperatures are seasonally warm; I have visited Jacksonville in the winter when the low temperatures drop to 20-25 degrees at night and the whole place seems to close.) Pack sunscreen, however, if you do. hit the beach. I’ve been burnt (literally) before on unusually warm winter days in Jacksonville.
- Or be active: If you love golf, there are few better places to visit than the Jacksonville area. Just choose a local muni and you can play a game for a reasonable price with rental clubs on a very nice track. Or, if you prefer, you won’t be too far from the World Golf Village, with the World Golf Hall of Fame, great restaurants, and a replica of the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass where you pay around $ 10 and get two attempts to hit the green with a rental club. If I remember correctly, a hole in one wins a big cash prize. (Humble bragging alert: I suck at golf, but I’m 2 for 2 in my life hitting the green.) Jacksonville is also a world-class racing city, home to the National 15K Championship (the River Run). each March. If you extend your stay by a day, you won’t have to look for a fun New Years run near your hotel.
I would be lying if I said Jacksonville is the most exciting city in the world to visit. But with the good weather forecast for the season, for those planning to make the trip, there is a way to make the non-football part of your trip interesting and enjoyable.
For those who wish to purchase tickets, the best way to do so at this late hour is through StubHub here.
If the people traveling have specific questions, leave them in the comments and (if time permits) I will respond if I can. Have a good trip !