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Jacksonville, the most populous city in Florida (13th most populous city in the US), is located on the banks of the St. Johns River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles east of downtown. With a mild year-round climate, and its proximity to sandy ocean beaches, rivers and lakes, Jacksonville offers a wide array of leisure activities for everyone to enjoy, including: golf, tennis, boating, deep-sea fishing, shopping and much more! Within a short drive from downtown Jacksonville, you will find a variety of restaurants and entertainment, including performing arts venues and museums. As one of the earliest areas in the US settled by European explorers, you can visit the historical sights such as St. Augustine and Fort Caroline.
Jacksonville is home to a number of popular annual cultural events, including The Jacksonville Jazz Festival which is held every April and is the second-largest jazz festival in the nation. Other popular music festivals include The Spring Music Fest, Planetfest, and Springing the Blues, a free outdoor blues festival held at Jacksonville Beach. Other major events include the Jacksonville Film Festival (May), the Freedom, Fanfare & Fireworks celebration (July), and The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair (November).
The arts are represented by several nearby performing arts venues and museums. The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts (12.1 mi) is comprised of three halls: the Jim & Jan Moran Theater, the Jacoby Symphony Hall (home of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra), and the Terry Theater. The Florida Theatre (12.3 mi), opened in 1927, is one of only four remaining high-style movie palaces built in Florida during the Mediterranean Revival architectural boom of the 1920s. The Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena seats 16,000, and attracts national entertainment, and also houses the Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame.
The Museum of Science and History (17.0 mi) features three stories of hands-on science and local history exhibits, including the Alexander Brest Planetarium. The Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art (11.9 mi) features eclectic permanent and traveling exhibitions. In January 2007, MOMA was renamed Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens (13.0 mi), located on the bank of the St. Johns River, holds a large collection of European and American paintings, and is surrounded by three acres of formal English and Italian style gardens. A must see historical sight, St. Augustine (25 mi) is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the United States. Among the many historical sights and interesting things to do here, the Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos dominates the scene and should not be missed.
The Jacksonville Plaza Hotel & Suites puts you close to everything, including The River City Marketplace (5.9 mi), a new shopping center that is the largest retail center in the North Jacksonville area (over 850,000 sf), and Jacksonville Landing Riverfront Marketplace (12.1 mi) in downtown on the St. Johns River, with more than 70 shops, restaurants and live entertainment. Jacksonville has plenty of shopping malls and districts, whether you are looking for outlet deals, upscale department stores, antique finds, or boutique specialties. Find shopping experiences for every taste and budget in downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding Metro area. Other nearby popular shopping include: Regency Square (15.7 mi), St Johns Town Center Mall (20.7 mi), Orange Park Mall (26.1 mi), and Avenues Mall (25.9 mi).
Jacksonville is home to a number of professional sports teams, the most famous of which is the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, who play in Alltel Stadium (13.0 mi). The Jacksonville Suns, a minor league baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, plays at the Baseball Grounds (12.8 mi). The new ABA expansion team, the Jacksonville Jam, played its first season in 2006. The Jacksonville Barracudas, offer professional ice hockey in the Veteran’s Memorial Arena (12.8 mi). Jacksonville is also home to women’s professional basketball, men’s professional indoor football, and men’s rugby.
Each year, professional tennis features the WTA Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island Plantation near Fernandina Beach, just north of Jacksonville. Other sports events include the annual Kingfish Tournament held in July, the Florida-Georgia football game, commonly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” held every October, the ACC Championship football and baseball, and the Gator Bowl held in early January.
Jacksonville offers outdoor fun for everyone. A year-round temperate climate with lots of sunshine makes Jacksonville is the perfect place for anyone to enjoy boating, fishing, and any number of water sports at the nearby river, lakes and beaches.
The Jacksonville area features many highly rated golf courses, several being within just a short drive of the Plaza Hotel & Suites. In Ponte Vedra, the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, one of the most famous golf courses in the world and home to the annual PGA tour, TPC (THE PLAYERS Championship) tournament.