Quick Day Trips from Jacksonville, Florida

Posted on July 15, 2009

Having lived in Jacksonville most of my life, I can remember a time when the speed limits on the roads were not as high as they are now. It seemed it always took forever to get somewhere when on vacation, even via the interstate. Fortunately, the turn of the century brings more technology to the road trip, and anybody in the Jacksonville area looking for a quick getaway will be happy to know that the city is not so large that you can’t go anywhere for a day.

So if you have a weekend free and are looking for a change of scenery, a day trip around North or Central Florida provides the fun and relaxation you want. You won’t have to spend too much time in the car, and there is always something to look forward to, coming and going. Here are just a few suggestions for your itineraries:

St. Augustine: Depending on where you are in Jacksonville, you’re looking at a minimum of forty-five minutes to an hour to get to the nation’s oldest city. Here you can tour the historic Castillo de San Marcos, which guarded this part of the new world from sea-faring invaders, then enjoy a stroll through the historical district and enjoy the eclectic shops, boutiques and restaurants. The secluded beach areas also provide serenity that stays with you on the trip home.

Gainesville: Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to this town than the Florida Gators. Gainesville’s historic downtown offers a great opportunity for leisurely lunches and antiques browsing. Nature lovers can take in the lush Kanapaha Botanical Gardens or Marjorie Kinnan Rawling State Park for an intimate nature walk. Depending on where you are in Jacksonville, getting to Gainesville may take a mere one to one and a half hours on I-75.

Amelia Island: For the adventurer, Amelia Island is the perfect North Florida getaway. Kayaking, nature walks, fishing, and exploration of historic Fort Clinch are just a few of the activities that await you here. Afterwards you can enjoy some of the best seafood on the east coast as you watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. Amelia Island is less than two hours from most parts of Jacksonville, and some parts are so compact you may not need your car for most of the day.

Nature and history, fine dining and romantic scenery are yours for the price of a short drive from Jacksonville. Take a weekend and enjoy a neighboring town for a refreshing and exciting mini-vacation.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance travel writer specializing in articles on St. Augustine vacations and Gainesville bed and breakfasts.

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