Hotel at a Glance: Days Inn Neptune Beach
When you stay at Days Inn Neptune Beach, the most-pressing question—if you can call it that—is which beach to visit. With the closest shoreline just 10 blocks from the front door, the property makes it easy to access the St. Johns River to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. And there’s always the option of staying put at the outdoor pool, which is surrounded by chaises and umbrellas. Inside 129 guest rooms—all of which underwent renovations in 2010—earth tones exude warmth and comfort, and you keep in touch with the outside world with complimentary high-speed WiFi.
- Make-your-own Belgian waffles at the free continental breakfast, which also feature bagels, pastries, fresh fruit, and hot coffee.
- Shoreline leisure: Bikes, surfboards, kayaks, lounge chairs, volleyball nets, and umbrellas can be rented through the hotel.
- What to do: Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, just four miles north, is a fun stop for outdoor adventures, including hiking and fishing in a 60-acre freshwater lake
- Historic attraction: Study the miniature ship replicas and nautical artifacts at the Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center, which tells the city’s story since the French arrived in 1562.
- Distance to downtown Jacksonville: 15 miles
Jacksonville, Florida: Beaches, Live Entertainment, and the Scenic St. Johns River
The St. Johns River—which meanders through the middle of Jacksonville, Florida—is one of the only rivers in America that flows north. Along its banks is The Jacksonville Landing, which has been attracting residents and visitors for more than 20 years with international eateries, live-music clubs, and more than 300 special events held every year. It’s worth walking across the bright-blue Main Street Bridge to Southbank to see Friendship Fountain, which puts on a dazzling light show at night. Next door to the fountain, at the Museum of Science & History, you’ll find several aquariums filled with Floridian fish and unambitious nature documentarians.
Jacksonville sits right off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and its beaches are frequented by kiteboarders and surfers. More than 80,000 acres of parkland lie within the city limits—for a low-key hike or bike ride, head to one of the many state parks. Little Talbot Island State Park’s beaches are rife with sand dunes, and at Fort Clinch State Park, you can take a daily tour past Civil War reenactors or explore native wildlife on self-guided nature trails.