Living in Jacksonville places you in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. There’s no excuse for not seeing as much of it as you can – so why not hop in the car, put on your favorite tunes, and head out for a good old-fashioned joy ride? Check out these four recommendations from The Hawthorne and then find some peace on the open road.
Mickler’s Landing to St. Augustine
The stretch of SR A1A near Jacksonville offers one of the most scenic rides in the U.S., and a can’t-miss section is the 20-mile drive from Mickler’s Landing to St. Augustine. Let your worries melt away as you cruise south along the Atlantic, with the ocean waves on your left and the Guana River on your right. Just make sure to pull over when the views are too distracting! As a bonus, you’ll end up in lovely St. Augustine, a city founded in 1565 and rich with history. You’ll have plenty of sights to see, from the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and Lightner Museum to the charming historic architecture throughout town.
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens to Little Talbot Island State Park
The 20-mile ride from Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens to the coast makes a perfect trip for one of the many sunny days you’ll enjoy in Duval County. Hop off I-17 at SR 105, and make your first pit stop at the zoo, where you can stroll through lush greenery and admire the exotic animals. Back on the road, SR 105 will take you past Blount Island and Browns Island, along the beautiful Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. At Fort George Island, you’ll pass Huguenot Memorial Park – also worth a stop for a walk along the water. Continue on to your destination, Little Talbot Island State Park, and leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the miles of white sandy beaches.
Callahan to Fernandina Beach
Follow the route of the historic Florida Railroad along SR 200, cruising 27 miles east from Callahan to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. The Florida Railroad, completed in 1861, formed Florida’s first cross-peninsular railroad system and allowed for easy transportation of goods to southern ports like New Orleans. You’ll be tracking a stretch of history as you ride past Four Creeks State Forest, through Yulee and O’Neil, to reach Amelia Island. At the northern edge of the island, Fort Clinch State Park forms the northeastern-most point of Florida. While there, tour the historic fort, walk along scenic trails where you’re bound to encounter some of the local wildlife, and enjoy spectacular views of the ocean and Georgia’s Cumberland Island.
Downtown Jacksonville to Palatka
In just an hour and a half, experience the full range of environments that make up Jacksonville, from the vibrant downtown and its modern high-rises to protected swamplands and charming small towns. Ride for about 55 miles along the west edge of the St. Johns River, heading south with pleasant views on either side of you. Palatka makes the perfect turnaround point for your drive. Here, you can stretch your legs on the peaceful riverfront, or get out and stroll the historic district to see beautiful antebellum architecture like the Bronson Mulholland House. Before making the trip back, head to Ravine Gardens State Park to enjoy serene hiking trails through beautiful hanging gardens and scenic boardwalks.
Looking for more fun spots to visit in and around Jacksonville? Check out The Hawthorne blog for restaurant recommendations, local events, and more.