Within Walking Distance
Most of the city’s best attractions are beyond the port area of cruises from Jacksonville. Close to port is the Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, a soldiers’ encampment from 1862 and now a quiet wooded area with walking trails.
Beyond the Port Area
Watch the world go by at the Southbank Riverwalk, which runs along the St. Johns River as it threads through Jacksonville. The highlight along the wooden boardwalk is undoubtedly the dancing jet streams of the Friendship Fountain, lit up to spectacular effect at night. Across the river is the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, with its top-notch American landscape and portraiture paintings from the past 200 hundred years. Surrounding the museum are luscious formal gardens, including vine covered Italian arches and blooming azaleas. Jacksonville’s rich African-American heritage is on proud display at the LaVilla Museum in the lobby of the Ritz Theatre. In the 1920s, the theater here was the center of African-American culture and life in Jacksonville.
Delve into the wetlands at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, where rare birdlife flourishes in the untouched coastal forests. Within the preserve is the 19th-century Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation. Learn about the lives of slaves in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina on a visit the main house and the ruins of the slave quarters. North of the reserve is Amelia Island, with miles of resort-style and secluded sandy beaches. Amble down nature trails in Fort Clinch State Park and cruise to the Cumberland Island National Seashore to see manatees, birdlife, and sea otters.
The historic old town of St. Augustine is just over 35 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida. This town’s Spanish quarter marks the site of the earliest European permanent settlement in America. The graceful streets hold scores of “oldest” designations—like the Oldest House and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
Beaches in Jacksonville
At Jacksonville Beach, laze on the soft sands while watching the surf roll in. The beach has a restaurant-lined boardwalk and long fishing pier. This is the best local beach for just about any water activity. From the pier’s end, you might spot migrating whales in the water during winter. Combine a golf morning with an afternoon at Ponte Vedra Beach, or visit the beach at this ritzy resort even if you’re not a golfer.
Shopping in Jacksonville
The Mediterranean Revival buildings, central fountain, and wide walkways make the charming San Marco neighborhood a lovely spot to stroll and shop, with boutiques and bookstores at San Marco Square. Jacksonville Landing, right on the riverfront, has live music on the weekends and water views to complement its array of shops and restaurants.
Golf in Jacksonville
Your Carnival cruise from Jacksonville is near one of Florida’s best golf courses. The TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach is home to the Players Championship in March, and its 17th hole, where the green is perched on a small island, is legendary.