Each fall, Jacksonville, Florida is flooded with football fans from near and far. Some come from Gainesville to support the Florida Gators. Others hail from Athens, home of the Georgia Bulldogs. A great many more come from all over, to enjoy this legendary football rivalry and what has come to be known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Here’s a guide on where to stay if you’re heading into Jacksonville for the Florida-Georgia football game this year. Remember, game day is Saturday, October 29th!
Where To Stay In Jacksonville For The 2016 Florida Georgia Game
1. Downtown Jacksonville
Downtown Jacksonville will be the heart of all the action. There aren’t too many hotels in the downtown area, so the few available will be immensely popular due to their proximity to the stadium and Jacksonville Landing. The Landing is a key part of the tailgating experience, for those who consider this pastime an important pre-gaming ritual. The downtown area, with its bars and nightlife, will be overrun with fans the night before and evening of the game. The Omni Hotel and Hyatt Regency are your main options for accommodations in downtown.
Southbank is a neighborhood close to Jacksonville Landing/Downtown. It’s across the St. John’s River, which can be crossed by car via Main Street or the Acosta Expressway, or by water taxi. The main contenders for accommodations in Southbank are the Hilton Jacksonville Hotel and the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel. This neighborhood isn’t very pedestrian-friendly, due to its massive office buildings and residential structures. However, Southbank has a lively nightlife due to its variety of bars and restaurants.
3. San Marco
The San Marco area, further south from downtown Jacksonville, is the historic section of town. San Marco Square is the commercial hub of the neighborhood, where restaurants, boutiques and theaters make their home. This is the place to stay if you’re into arts and recreation. Trendy art galleries are located in this neighborhood. There are also fourteen different parks of various sizes and purposes.
For a more residential area to set up camp, check out Springfield. This historic neighborhood is adjacent to downtown Jacksonville. It was one of the best comeback neighborhoods of the south in Southern Living a few years back. Carefully preserved and restored homes line the streets, giving the area a historic and local charm. It’s not too far from downtown Jacksonville, but a world away in terms of atmosphere.
If you’re flying into Jacksonville and want to stick around the airport area, Northside is where you’ll want to stay. Main travel hubs like the airport, Amtrak station and JAXPORT terminal are located close by. You’ll also find dozens of hotels and other businesses in the neighborhood. Being such a thoroughfare, Northside boasts tons of attractions as well. The River City Marketplace, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve are all popular points of attractions in Northside.
You can enjoy Jacksonville’s 22 miles of coastline while in town for the game. The beaches and historic Mayport district are about 40 minutes from downtown Jacksonville. That may seem far, but you’ll have access to oceanfront views and beachside activities by day. You might have as much fun exploring the historic towns, restaurants and shops in this area as you do watching the game!
For another quiet residential area, Arlington is an option to consider. It’s quiet and typically suburban. But you’ll find venues to fully appreciate Jacksonville’s beautiful natural setting. The Fort Caroline National Memorial is one such example. The Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve is another. The Tree Hill Nature Center and Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens are also in Arlington, as well as a number of hiking and biking trails.
This article was written by Hanna Choi.