Jacksonville, aka J-Ville, is so underrated. It’s a good way from South Beach, Miami, yet still it lays on amazing beaches. It may not have as many pro teams as Tampa but it’s still a great destination for sports fans. Here’s our pick of the best hotels in this Florida city for every traveler.
No vacation to Jacksonville is complete without a trip to Amelia Island, and no trip to Amelia Island delivers an oceanside experience quite like the Ritz-Carlton. You can savor flavors from around the world at upmarket Salt restaurant or get stuck into fresh local treats at Coast. Many guests are content to spend days on the beach soaking up the sun, but we think trading a few hours of sand for signature full-body treatments at the spa will enhance your trip. However you choose to relax, make sure it includes room service delivered to your oceanfront balcony.
One Ocean believes that a spa day should last a whole weekend. The Ocean Mist facial, Windsurfer massage, and Beachcomber manicure will leave you feeling reborn. Treat your taste buds to a little indulgence too, with cold water lobster rolls, avocado toast, and dragon berry mojitos at Azurea restaurant. When you’re not spending your time lounging by the pool or the sea, there’s bottled water and fresh coffee waiting for you in your suite; drink it on your balcony while admiring the ocean.
What would you do with 1,350 acres (546ha) of island bliss and almost 4mi (6km) of pristine beach? Would you spend your days swimming in the world-class resort pools or getting hot stone massages at a full-service spa? Would you play all 18 holes of championship golf or eat your way through nine restaurants full of the freshest seafood in the state? Perhaps you’d play tennis on a Har-Tru clay court before kayaking through Florida’s serene waters? No need to limit yourself when you stay at Omni Amelia Island Resort – you’re free to indulge in it all.
Cozy, intimate, and ready to welcome you with open arms, Seaside Amelia Inn on Fernandina Beach is close to Jacksonville yet feels deliciously detached from the rest of the world. Instead of calling this boutique hotel a hidden gem, we think the term “old friend” is more applicable. Who else would offer you freshly-baked cookies with lemonade, renovated rooms to ensure you feel completely at home, and also steer you towards the best local restaurants and secret spots that are far from the tourist track? With hosts like these, who needs friends?
If you’re looking for lashings of grandeur and grace on your Florida vacation you need Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. It’s been delivering the goods for generations. There are luxury amenities here for all the family to enjoy, among them four heated swimming pools, 36 holes of golf, a playground and nursery for children, on-site boutique shopping, and miles of beachside splendor. You expect nothing less than the best, and you’ll get it at Ponte Vedra.
Let’s hope you packed a new set of grips because you’re going to get a lot of practice on the golf greens during your stay here. Be sure to explore the other world-class amenities at the resort too: the full-service spa includes a steam room, lap pool, fitness classes, and an in-spa restaurant. Six different dining spots have diverse menus – and offer experiences such as viewing native wildlife at American Gator Club or mingling with fellow golfers over cocktails at the Great Room Lobby Lounge. And the beach? Made for sunsets, which are liquid, crimson and lovely.
It’s not far from Omni Amelia Island, but Omni Jacksonville is no facsimile. This riverwalk retreat in the heart of downtown is ground zero for business and pleasure. The rooftop heated pool serves up River City views, while the lower levels have a full menu of fine dining options: fancy grilled Atlantic salmon at Juliette’s Bistro? How about warm bourbon pecan pie from J Bar? We doubt you’ll spend much time in your room; TIAA Bank Field, Memorial Arena, and Times Union Center are right around the corner – with a seat saved for you.
Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park wants to reimagine your weekend getaway. Keep your electric car charging outside and take advantage of free shuttle services to anywhere within 5mi (8km) of the hotel. Grab some late-night munchies at the gourmet pantry Re:fuel by Aloft and froth your own cappuccino for a morning pick-me-up. Dogs are welcome to stay in your room if you have a furry buddy. And if you happen to have allergies, you’ll be safe here: Aloft’s special allergy free rooms are a breath of fresh air.
About 25 minutes by car beyond Jacksonville you’ll find Club Continental on the St. John’s River. This Orange Park hotel feels like a refined resort with 300-year-old oak trees, a gurgling fountain, and that grand Mediterranean-style mansion rising above sweeping green lawns. Chill in your suite on the river, or splurge on one of the European-styled mansion rooms. Seven tennis courts, three swimming pools, and one amazing waterfront restaurant will fill your days – just hope they don’t flit by too quickly.
It’s easy to settle into a nice routine at Hotel Indigo. You’ll feel so at home with your spa-like bathroom, workspace, kitchenette, and amenities including an on-site business center and fitness center. The wonderful Deerwood Park neighborhood, once known as Hollywood East, oozes family-friendly atmosphere. You can shop, dine, and catch a few flicks with popcorn. Jacksonville’s nearby beaches will remind you that you’re nowhere near home – and close to paradise.
The Lodge and Club at Ponte Vedra Beach goes the extra mile to give both adults and children a memorable time. If you’ve got the whole family with you, you’ll love the on-site children’s nursery, heated lap pool, and the kid-friendly zero-entry pool that also has a waterslide and splash park. If it’s you and your partner or friends along for the ride, then the oceanfront adults-only pool and Jacuzzi will quickly become your favorite spot when you’re not drinking craft beers in the Tavern or getting much-needed me-time in the spa.
How often have you received personalized service from the owners of a hotel? That’s all you’ll know at Riverdale Inn, a quaint 11-room historic bed and breakfast on St. John’s River. Formerly a turn of the century mansion, it’s now beloved of travelers seeking a relaxed time in Jacksonville’s Five Points district. You must accept an invitation to afternoon tea with the owners so they can regale you with the history of the area – and point you in the direction of all the local attractions.