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June 04, 2014
Jacksonville weekend getawaysFlorida is a vacationer’s paradise. Even people who’ve never visited the state envision the perfect white beaches and breezy palm trees that movies and tourism pamphlets have circulated for a hundred years. Many people move to Florida for the same reasons others vacation there, but its cities offer more than just gorgeous beaches. We’ve assembled five of the best weekend getaways near Jacksonville.

1. Amelia Island Plantation

If you hit the road in time to miss traffic, you can be at this oasis within an hour of leaving downtown Jacksonville. Tucked up along the coast northeast of the city, this luxury resort was originally built to exist “in harmony with nature.” The natural beauty of Florida remains apparent throughout the island, even as visitors enjoy golf on one of its three championship courses, tennis on the clay courts, or a massage in the spa. With so many relaxing things to see and do, Amelia Island is a nearby favorite for families living in Jacksonville.

2. Manatee Tours

Manatees are perhaps the most beloved and protected creatures in Florida, though many residents have never seen one—much less been in the water with one. Bird’s Underwater Inc. offers daily snorkeling and SCUBA tours to witness these gentle sea cows in their natural inhabitant. Located just above the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, it’s a two and a half hour drive from Jacksonville, but worth it, according to reviews. The company owns two waterfront rentals for overnight stays, or you can check in to one of the many nearby hotels.

3. St. Augustine

If you’ve lived in Jacksonville for any amount of time, you’ve probably been to St. Augustine many times. Situated just 47 minutes down the coast, St. Augustine is the oldest European-founded city in the continental United States. In 2015 the city will celebrate its 450th birthday. Just about every street reveals an incredible amount of history, art, and culture, making it a great place for history buffs to visit, children to learn, and couples to enjoy an idyllic, romantic setting.

4. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

One of the largest nature preserves in the state also happens to be one of the closest for Jacksonville residents. With over 400,000 acres of marshes, forests, lakes, and prairies, you could visit every weekend and never see the same place (or wildlife) twice. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service offers camping, hiking, canoeing, and boat tours throughout the refuge to fulfill all of your adventurous needs.

5. Jacksonville Staycation

Don’t feel like a drive? If you live in Jacksonville, you don’t actually have to go anywhere to have a fun, relaxing, or romantic weekend. Try doing something new with your kids, or put on some tourist clothes and visit all the places that visitors frequent. The city offers thousands of great restaurants, beaches, and tours to getaway, even if you live there.

JulieCarter_JAXThis post is brought in partnership with Julie Carter, a First Option recommended realtor. Julie always goes the extra mile for her clients. Call her today at 904-370-3500!

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