Jacksonville has a beach for every personality with its 22 miles of shoreline connecting its communities. Jacksonville Beach is where the action is with shopping and dining near the water and a party vibe during the evenings. Nearby Neptune and Atlantic Beach have a mellower feel: Perfect for romantic strolls or plopping down a beach chair to work on your tan as the kids play. Amelia Island captures both rustic and sporty approach to beach life with beach driving permitted on most beaches and secluded spots with nary a soul in sight. Here are some places to pick your pleasure for sand and sun on the First Coast.
Neptune Beach lures surfers for good waves and its sporty culture. At its heart is Beaches Town Center (200 First St.) a pedestrian-friendly area home to boutiques, pubs and cafés and a good place to find beach essentials such as swimwear, towels and other gear. Beginning at One Ocean, a towering resort hotel, is Atlantic Beach. The mostly residential area features quiet beaches and dining and shopping on nearby Atlantic Avenue.
The closest beach to downtown Jacksonville is Jacksonville Beach, which is the place to go for a festive beach-going excursion. Surf shops, patio bars and restaurants serving seafood and burgers line the beachfront and the pier is a popular destination for catching fish or catching ocean views.
If you are an angler, a hot spot is at Amelia Island State Park, where you can drop a line from the long pier or drive up directly to the shore for fishing on the beach. Convenient by its proximity to the town of Fernandina Beach, Main Beach is family-friendly with a playground near the show and a simple putt-putt course. No beach driving allowed. Fort Clinch is Amelia Island’s most natural, preserved beach. Kids will love exploring the old fort at the state park and learning its history. Plus, poke around the walking trails, look for shells on the beach and play in the surf. Come prepared by bringing a picnic and beach supplies.Driving on the beach is by permit only on these beaches: American, Peter’s Point and Seaside Park.