Nestled up against the Georgia border, this is a different kind of Florida than you may have experienced further south. Almost alone among Florida’s major cities, Jacksonville was never primarily a tourist destination. An important point for the railroads of David Yulee and Henry Plant, it made its mark as a working town—paper mills, a port, transportation hub and later an insurance industry town. The city’s districts are defined by the St. Johns River, which runs north into the city, then makes a right turn to reach the Atlantic Ocean at Mayport. Although it has beaches—both tourist-kitschy and pristine—at its doorstep and elegant resorts, it’s not a resort town. As a visitor, you’ll find yourself surrounded by residents when you go to area attractions and restaurants. If you decide to stay cloistered inside a visitors-only resort, you can do that, too.
1 You’ve been on the run for two days; with just one more day left, head back to the nearest beach. Do not run. Do not do push ups. Do not play volleyball. Lie still and bake the last of that pre-vacation stress out of your body.
2 After the beach, drive to the Seafoam Dining Room at the Ponte Vedra Inn for a last, glorious meal overlooking the ocean. If you get there early, so much the better. Have a few cocktails, chat up the guests and unwind.