The City of Jacksonville covers a huge geographic area, and its urban area contains a population greater than Florida cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando. Located in the double loops of the St. John's River near the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Jacksonville offers year-round sun, sand, and fun for visitors and residents alike. The Port of Jacksonville offers many attractions and activities for its almost three million visitors each year. With a rich history and a bright future, the Port of Jacksonville is one of the United States' most popular tourist destinations. For complete information on the many things to see and do in the Port of Jacksonville, please visit the city's tourism website.
The Port of Jacksonville enjoys a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. Summer days can get very hot and humid, and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Short-lived cold spells can bring hard freezes in the winter, but snow is quite unusual. The city has remained relatively unharmed by hurricanes compared to other East Coast cities. Temperatures range from an average high of 33 °C (91 °F) in July to an average low of 7 °C (45 °F) in January.
Jacksonville Landing is the place to go to enjoy festivals, waterfront dining, shopping, and a lively nightlife. Most Port of Jacksonville holiday celebrations take place here, and Jacksonville Landing is the place to view downtown fireworks. At Christmas, it has northeast Florida's biggest Christmas tree. Located next to the beautiful St. John's River is a gathering place, convention center, entertainment venue, and shopping paradise. Over 350 events are held there each year, and weekend entertainment in the courtyard includes a variety of music styles. There is always something happening at Jacksonville Landing. Dining out is a joy because, in addition to delicious meals, visitors enjoy wonderful views of the river. A variety of nightclubs keep the action going late into the night. The Landing covers over 1.2 hectares and offers more than 305 meters of dock space for public use.
If urban fun isn't your thing, only minutes away from the Port of Jacksonville city center is the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. This almost 19-hectare park and preserve is one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast. It contains more than six thousand years of human history as well. Visitors learn about the lives of indigenous peoples before Europeans arrived, the cultural clash that came when Europeans came to the area, attempts to colonize the area, and the struggles of African slaves. The first peoples were the Timucuans who greeted French explorers at the mouth of the St. John's River in 1562. The French left the 16th Century Fort Caroline as a reminder of their short tenure in northeast Florida. The first translation of an indigenous language into a European language (Timucuan to Spanish) was made here in the late 1500s. During the 18th and 19th Centuries, plantation owners and slaves built vast plantations, one of which is open to visitors.
Kingsley Plantation is a well-preserved reminder of the "golden" days of the Old South from 1763 to 1865. Zephaniah Kingsley came here to the Port of Jacksonville to make his fortune, bringing laborers in the form of African slaves to work the land. Today, visitors can explore the Kingsley Plantation grounds which contain the slave quarters, the barn, the plantation and kitchen houses, the garden, and the waterfront. (The main house is closed to the public.)
Many visitors to the Port of Jacksonville come to enjoy the wonderful beaches. Relatively uncrowded, especially compared to beaches in southern Florida, the Jacksonville beaches offer a quiet escape. Accommodations range from family-owned bed and breakfasts to luxury ocean-front hotels. And the beaches are lined with some of the best restaurants in Florida offering seafood, local dishes, and ethnic cuisine.
Jacksonville Beach is hidden away on a barrier island east of the Port of Jacksonville. The beach offers miles of white sand, oceanfront hotels, and fine restaurants. Outdoor lovers can swim, surf, fish, sail, kayak, canoe, bike, hike, or collect seashells at this beautiful shore. They may catch a glimpse of the common porpoises, the winter-time northern right whales, or late-summer sea turtle hatchlings. The beach area also offers more than 20 golf courses, many chic boutique shops, art galleries, and antiques. The Port of Jacksonville's Sea Walk Pavilion hosts free concerts and festivals throughout the long Florida summer, including performances by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach is the only water park in town, and it has go-karts, miniature golf, laser tag, and a glitzy modern arcade. Gamers can play on casino ships based in international waters out of Mayport Village.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Jacksonville by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.