Greatest Destinations 2021: Jacksonville


Jacksonville—Florida’s most populous metro area—grew up around the St. Johns River, which cuts through the middle of downtown. Walk the three-mile riverwalk, rent a kayak, or simply take in the views from the banks! Tip: The gardens of the Cummer Museum of Art provide a great vantage point to the mighty waterway.

South present’s our hotly anticipated, annual guide to the Greatest Destinations of 2021. Each year, South produces the definitive list of the best places to stay, play, eat and shop in Charleston, Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Savannah and Jacksonville. This year, we’ve added some new locations for an exhaustive guide to the Coastal South.


South’s Greatest Destinations serves as an annual guide to the best locations in the coastal South from Charleston through Jacksonville. The list includes the premier places to stay and the hottest spots to play, as well as the best bites and top shops. In the past year, the Southeast saw continuous visitors—despite recent restrictions—proving there is just something inexplicably hospitable about our beautiful region. Without further ado, here is South’s definitive guide to the greatest destinations.

Jacksonville, Florida

Below the Florida-Georgia line, temperatures rise and the ante ups as the Jacksonville skyline emerges on the horizon. Endless urban fun juxtaposed with sublime coastal proximity creates the ultimate Southern playground.


Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Spa

Southeast of Jacksonville in the oceanside town of Ponte Vedra Beach, the incredible Sawgrass Resort and Spa awaits with modern rooms and villas, dreamlike amenities and exclusive access to one of the top golf courses in the world: TPC Sawgrass.

Amelia Schoolhouse Inn 

Originally the first schoolhouse on Amelia Island, located in downtown Fernandina Beach, the Amelia Schoolhouse Inn is now a boutique hotel with modern amenities. In typical schoolhouse fashion, guests can get into some trouble at “The Principal’s Office,” or the hotel bar.

One Ocean Resort & Spa

Situated on the sweeping white sands of Jacksonville’s Atlantic Beach is One Ocean Resort & Spa, outfitted with luxury accommodations and services. Rooms grant spectacular ocean views and guests enjoy upscale dining, spa and shopping options.


Beaches Fishing Charter 

Find some of the best fishing on the east coast in the Atlantic depths off the coast of the Jacksonville area. U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Captain Jeff Wansor has over 35 years experience navigating the waters and guarantees a big kahuna catch.

Timucuan Nature Preserve

Timucuan Nature Preserve offers rare glimpses of Old Florida, wildlife and diverse habitats. Walk in the footsteps of the Timucua people, French colonists, plantation owners and enslaved people and through 46,000 acres of preserved wetlands.

Photo: Lindsey Martin Webb

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

Jacksonville boasts a vibrant art scene, starting with the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. The fine arts museum is home to over 5,000 works and a magical historic garden set against the backdrop of the St. Johns River.


bb’s restaurant + bar

For a swanky night out, head downtown to Jacksonville’s business district to bb’s restaurant + bar for an award-winning wine list, eclectic bites and groovy vibes. Pro tip: Dessert is a must at bb’s.

Salt Life Food Shack

On the North Florida coast, it’s all about that “Salt Life.” The popular subculture brand expanded to offer a dining experience that exemplifies the spirit of Salt Life with delicious seafood dishes, cool drinks and a comfortable place to gather with family and friends.

III Forks 

III Forks brings an upscale steakhouse experience to Jacksonville with a refined, contemporary experience. The decor literally drips in gold—and so do the steaks, figuratively—making it the perfect place for occasion dining.


Auntie Peaches 

Auntie Peaches serves the Jacksonville community as a “grassroots” health and wellness resource, offering education and naturopathic solutions to their guests. Visit the apothecary to pick up herbal medicines and natural remedies to build your best self.

Riverside Arts Market

The Riverside Arts Market is the intersection of artists, artisans, farmers and makers that come together under the Fuller Warren bridge every Saturday, rain or shine. Browse this vibrant hub for the best goods the area has to offer and support local businesses.

St. Johns Town Center 

The St. Johns Town Center is an upscale, open-air shopping mecca featuring over 150 of the hottest brands. As the heart of Jacksonville’s shopping and dining, this lifestyle mall is the best place to seek retail therapy.


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