The largest city in Florida – and the contiguous United States – lays on streets full of surprises and perk-packed places to stay. Here are the best hotels – all bookable on Culture Trip.
Jacksonville, aka J-Ville, is so underrated. It’s a good way from Miami, yet still lays on amazing beaches. It may not have as many pro teams as Tampa, but it’s still a great destination for sports fans. It can’t compete with Orlando’s man-made thrills and spills, but it does lay on heartfelt hospitality of a distinctly Southern kind. Especially when it comes to its distinguished hotels – with options tailored for every type of 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 restaurant Salt 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 lobster rolls, avocado toast and dragon-berry mojitos at Azurea restaurant. When you’re not lounging by the pool or the sea, there’s bottled water and fresh coffee in your suite to drink 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 spa? Would you play all 18 holes of a championship golf course 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 serene Floridian waters? No need to limit yourself when you stay at Omni Amelia Island Resort – you’re free to indulge in it all.
Cozy and intimate, Seaside Amelia Inn on Fernandina Beach is close to Jacksonville yet feels detached from the rest of the world. Instead of calling this boutique hotel a hidden gem, the term “old friend” is perhaps 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?
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 perks here for all the family to enjoy, among them four heated swimming pools, 36 holes of golf, a playground and nursery for children, and miles of beachside. Expect nothing but 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 rest of the resort, too: the spa includes a steam room, lap pool, fitness classes and a restaurant. Six different dining spots have diverse menus and experiences, including 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, all 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.
This Aloft 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 and froth your own cappuccino for a morning pick-me-up. Dogs are welcome to stay in your room if you have a buddy. And if you happen to have allergies, you’ll be safe here: Aloft’s 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 a 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 at home with your spa-like bathroom, workspace and kitchenette, and with hotel amenities including a 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. The 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 nursery, heated lap pool and kid-friendly pool that has a waterslide and splash park. If it’s you and your partner or friends along for the ride, 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.
Personalized service is all you’ll know at Riverdale Inn, a quaint 11-room historic bed and breakfast on St John’s River. A turn-of-the century mansion, it’s now beloved by travelers seeking a relaxed time in the Five Points district of Jacksonville. 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 to local attractions.
These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.