Hidden Gems of Jacksonville, Florida

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Josh Wright

There is plenty to do and see in Jacksonville, including (but not limited to) a number of art galleries and parks. But “Jax,” as its residents affectionately call the city, has a few hidden gems as well. From bird sanctuaries to bookstores, Culture Trip leads you off the beaten path as we fill you in on some of the attractions that you may not have heard about.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Housed in a former Christian Science church with an imposing Classical Revival façade, the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is one of 11 such museums in the U.S. that regularly displays items from the world’s largest private collection of original documents and manuscripts. Previous exhibitions have included aviator Charles Lindbergh’s handwritten designs for the Spirit of St. Louis and the letters of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, which span half a century. The aim of the Karpeles family in establishing these museums is to stimulate interest in learning, and admission is always free.

Chamblin’s Uptown

With well over half a million rare and second-hand books filling its shelves, Chamblin’s Uptown is a bibliophile’s paradise. The locally owned and operated bookstore offers more than 100 different categories for customers to peruse, including a section on Jacksonville history. And as well as being a literary treasure trove, it also has a café on its premises, so you can sit down with a cup of coffee and some housemade granola while poring over your latest purchase. Display cases hold books of particular interest, one of which being a vellum edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Treaty Oak

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A prime specimen of Quercus Virginiana, or southern live oak, the Treaty Oak lays claim to the title of Jacksonville’s oldest living resident: its age is estimated at around 250 years old, which means it predates the founding of the city in 1822. Its tentacle-like limbs and immense truck –25ft in circumference and 70ft in height – have made it a much-loved local landmark. Its name comes courtesy of Florida Times-Union journalist Pat Moran, who in the 1930s fabricated a story about a peace treaty being signed at the site between Native Americans and early European settlers in order to protect the tree from land-hungry developers.

Historic Mandarin

Jacksonville’s Mandarin neighborhood has a number of historical sights. In 1867, Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe bought a house here, wintering next to the St. John’s River for 17 years. The house has since been demolished, but her legacy lives on; Stowe contributed to the rebuilding of the town’s school – now the Mandarin Community Club – and was considerably active within the community. The west window of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour is a memorial to the Stowe family. Also, the Mandarin Store and Post Office, built in 1911, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve

Located in Jacksonville, Florida, the Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve is a hidden gem that offers a captivating blend of nature and history. Spanning over 46,000 acres, this preserve showcases the diverse ecosystems of coastal wetlands, salt marshes, and ancient forests. Visitors can explore the scenic trails, paddle along the waterways, and witness an abundance of wildlife, including rare bird species. Adding to its allure, the preserve holds historical significance as it preserves the remnants of indigenous Timucuan villages and the remains of the 16th-century Fort Caroline. The Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve is a true sanctuary where nature and history intertwine, providing an enchanting experience for explorers and history enthusiasts alike.

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Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

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Hanna

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HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?

2 years.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.

WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?

I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

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Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.