Jacksonville's 4 Landmark Christmas Trees
Averaging between 50 and 60 feet in height, the Jacksonville Landing Christmas tree, on the river Downtown, is the city's tallest and "official" Christmas tree. Elsewhere in the city. however, are three other landmark trees worth noting. The tree at Atlantic Beach-Neptune Beach Town Center is framed by year-round palm trees and situated just a few steps from the sand. The tree in historic San Marco Square is located inside an old-fashiond bandstand in the heart of the square. Meanwhile, the newest addition to the city's Christmas tree family is the one on the green at the center of St. Johns Town Center. A certain times the lights on this tree will blink in choreography with background Christmas music. Be sure to look for all four if you're here in December!
Authentic Maryland-style Crab House
The Blue Crab is an authentic Maryland style crab house. Having lived in Maryland for many years I was thrilled to discover this place. It was like being "back home!" The "decor" is paper covered dining tables (just like in Maryland) and plastic patio type dining chairs. Unpretensious atmosphere. You get the distinct impression their main focus is on good food. Service was good; it was a very busy night and the wait staff worked hard, considering. Previous diners have left "graffiti" messages on the walls (the "Kilroy was here" type of thing, along with comments/reviews/greetings etc). If you order steamed crabs (at a reasonable cost of $26/dozen), like I did, do not dress in your finest clothing - because you will end up wearing the crab, spices, etc. It's unavoidable when you "whack" the crab with your wooden mallet to crack open those tasty claws! This is my newly discovered favorite Jacksonville area eatery. I found it "accidentally" while searching for Clark's Fish Camp (recommended by a relative) - which was way too crowded and my dinner party was unwilling to stick out the 45 minute wait to be seated on a Wednesday evening. We traveled on down the road and stopped at The Blue Crab instead and I'm glad we did! Steamed Maryland Blue Crabs. There is nothing like the taste of the sea...and those perky, authentic, Maryland spices (with a little kick) blending together. Of course, the cold beer is obligatory with crabs. Never an afterthought, always in combo! Part of our dinner party shared the crabs, the rest had grilled fish, fried shrimp and crab cakes. All were declared excellent dishes, even by the finicky ones amongst us (spanning three generations)! Oh, and the french fries were great, too.
Where urban chic meets the Intracoastal marshes
When crossing the Beach Blvd. bridge over the Intracoastal toward the beach you'll see a small lighthouse rising from a large building not far from the bridge pilings. Upon closer inspection you'll see that the massive restaurant with its outdoor bar area and a wraparound boardwalk with marina is situated at the edge of a pristine marshland that frames the waterway itself. Inside, the sophisticated urban atmosphere is marked by dark walls with an open central kitchen which stand in stark contrast with the giant picture windows that wrap around three external walls and reveal a natural setting of sawgrass, cranes, egrets and water. Of course, the contrasts don't stop with the setting itself. Lighthouse is the kind of place where shorts and sandals are just as acceptable as coats and ties, and yes, you'll likely see both if you come here for dinner. Speaking of dinner, sunsets are a particularly romantic time to dine here. Overall, Lighthouse Grill's collection of contrasts combined with a wide menu makes it one of Jacksonville's most unique, must-eat-at restaurants.
The Hall of Fame: center of the golf world
The World Golf Hall of Fame in World Golf Village is a living history museum that provides visitors with a behind-the scenes look at the sport of golf through artifacts, interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Here you can putt on a nineteenth-century style green using an old fashioned putter and ball or utilize state of the art technology to play a virtual hole at legendary courses like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. Overall, the Hall of Fame is organized into 18 exhibition areas following the chronology of golf from its roots to the present day. For a 365 degree aerial perspective of the World Golf Village complex, ride the elevator to the top of the hall's observation tower. If you're feeling inspired, you'll find an 18-hole putting course and a 132-yard challenge hole right outside the hall, or you can play one of World Golf Village's two world class courses: The King & The Bear and the Slammer & Squire.
World Golf Village is located along I-95 just a 25 minute drive south of Downtown. It is a booming self-contained community built as a celebration of golf. At its center stands the World Golf Hall of Fame, surrounded by an IMAX theater, a lakeside complex of shops and restaurants, two luxurious resorts, two world-class golf courses, the PGA Tour Golf Academy, the headquarters of PGA Tour Productions, a convention center, condos and a growing number of meticulously planned upscale housing developments.
My Jacksonville "Top 5" Tours by area
"1. CENTRAL JACKSONVILLE TOP 5 TOUR"
Northbank & Southbank Riverwalks/Friendship Fountain
Cummer Museum & Gardens
San Marco Square
MOSH (Museum of Science and History)
"2. EAST JACKSONVILLE/BEACHES TOP 5 TOUR"
Beach Town Center
St. Johns Town Center
Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
"3. A1A NORTH TOUR TOP 5 (to/from Fernandina Beach)"
Historic Centre Street in Fernandina Beach
Amelia Island Plantation
Big Talbot Island State Park
"4. A1A SOUTH TOUR TOP 5 (to/from St. Augustine)"
St. George Street/Downtown Historic St. Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos
St, Augustine Alligator Farm
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Mickler's Landing Beach
JACKSONVILLE METRO PAGES
Atlantic Beach ~~ Neptune Beach ~~ Jacksonville Beach ~~ Ponte Vedra Beach ~~ Amelia Island
Talbot Islands ~~ Vilano Beach ~~ St. Augustine Beach ~~ Crescent Beach
St. Augustine ~~ Orange Park ~~ Fruit Cove ~~ World Golf Village ~~ Callahan