Jacksonville Beach is a casual, unspoiled section of the Atlantic Coastline about 18 miles east of the actual metropolitan city of Jacksonville. With smaller communities and fewer tourists, visiting this area in northeast Florida affords a more relaxing beach vacation than the glitzier hot-spots of Miami or the resorts of the Panhandle. As part of the older settlements along the Eastern seaboard, history is valued highly here, and activities like deep-water fishing from the quarter-mile-long pier are a throwback to simpler days.
Jacksonville Beach is generally grouped with the adjoining small communities of Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach, collectively referred to as the "Beaches of Jacksonville." They are separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. About 23 miles from the Georgia state line, the actual section that is Jacksonville Beach lies roughly between Beach and Atlantic Boulevards as they run down toward the water from metropolitan Jacksonville, ending at State Road A1A. On the other side of the waterway, most hotels lie along North First Street along the oceanfront.
Hotels along the oceanfront in Jacksonville Beach tend to be moderately priced and include recognizable names like Best Western, Quality Suites and Courtyard by Marriott. The Comfort Inn stands out for its huge swimming pool with four rock waterfalls and a sand volleyball park. The Casa Marina Hotel has been around since the early 20th century and highlights its past with rooms decorated for the changing eras. It is listed as a "Historic Hotel of America" with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Life in Jacksonville Beach is centered on the water, and even hotels that are not directly on the beach are usually only a few short blocks away. The Holiday Inn Express is located on Beach Boulevard, a short distance from the beach and four miles from the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville. Though not considered oceanfront, the Fairfield Inn and Suites is still only 100 yards from the sandy beach. The Fig Tree Inn Bed & Breakfast is a 1915 cedar-shake-shingle cottage that affords views of the ocean from Fourth Avenue South, half a block from the sand.
Hotels in the expanded area that are considered part of the "Beaches of Jacksonville" branch out into the high-end resorts that are more typical along Florida coastlines, particularly in Ponte Vedra Beach. A sophisticated country club property known as the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club spreads over 300 acres with a 28,000-square-foot spa and 28 luxury rooms and suites. At the Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa, it's all about golf, as home to THE PLAYERS championships and the distinction of being named the best golf resort in Florida by Travel + Leisure Golf magazine in 2008. Their seven-story hotel overlooks the 13th hole and lies beside the lake.
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