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Your March Madness guide to Jacksonville

Whether you’re looking for family fun, surfing, or a citywide beer tour, First Coast News has you covered.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — If you’re reading this: Welcome to Jacksonville! If you aren’t sure where to go or what to do, we’ve got you covered:


The beaches are about a half hour drive from the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, but once you get there, you’re in for sunny skies this week.

You’ll have no problem finding bikes, boogie boards and surfboards to rent, or you can also try your hand at sea fishing from the shore or the Jacksonville Beach Pier.

  • Atlantic Beach - Known for being family friendly and one of the quieter beaches. Not a ton of parking here, your best bet is to head to 18th street. If you're willing to pay a small fee, the beaches at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park are pristine. 
  • Neptune Beach - Everyone's neighborhood beach. Neptune beaches are never super crowded and are a quick drive to great restaurants and hangouts such as Sliders, Flying Iguana and Southern Grounds.
  • Jacksonville Beach - If you want to see and be seen, Jacksonville Beach is the place to be. Stop by Beachside to grab some surf gear before you hit the sand and afterward, The Pier Cantina is known for great tacos. 
  • Ponte Vedra Beach - Known as the 'upscale' beach, there aren't a ton of public accesses in this area. If you're lucky enough to have a friend with a membership to the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, stop by for an extraordinary experience. 
  • Micklers Beach - (Pronounced MIKE- LersOn the southern end of Ponte Vedra Beach, this beautiful beach offers a full range of facilities Great for sunbathing, swimming, and searching for sharks' teeth.
  • St. Augustine and Vilano Beach - Great for a day trip! Get a beach driving pass at any booth along the beach area and take your vehicle on the sand for the ultimate beach picnic experience.


You can’t go wrong with a trip to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. There is a brand new ape exhibit. You can feed the giraffes, and see Florida favorites, the manatees.

RELATED: Lions and tigers and beers, oh my! The Watering Hole opening at the Jacksonville Zoo

MOSH, the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History has interactive games, live animals and is right across the river from downtown.

Take a tour of our very own candy factory at Sweet Pete's! There is always tons to do at this Jacksonville family favorite.


The Jacksonville Ale Trail might be for you. There are over 18 breweries in and around the city. Visit Jacksonville offers a brewery passport that takes you around as many or as few of them as you can handle. At each stop, you get your passport stamped to earn free beer gear.

Jacksonville also has a vibrant nightlife scene. Check out local staples like Kickbacks Gastropub for a unique experience, Dos Gatos for craft cocktails, and Casa Maria's rooftop bar for martinis and ocean views.

Follow First Coast Brews on Facebook to learn more about local breweries and nightlife on the first Coast.

RELATED: Jacksonville featured in 'Best Breweries of March Madness'

RELATED: First Coast Brews: Legacy Ale Works opens this weekend


Jacksonville has a variety of food to offer, from Southern cooking and bottomless mimosas at South Kitchen & Spirits to authentic Philly cheesesteaks at Eddis & Sons and so much more! 

Check out First Coast Foodies for all your food needs.

RELATED: Popular ramen shop Domu now serving lunch at the Town Center

RELATED: First Coast Foodies: South Kitchen & Spirits is the place to be for bottomless mimosas, weekend brunch specials