At a whopping 840 sq miles, Jacksonville is the largest city by area in the continental US and the fourth largest in the world. Sprawling along three meandering rivers, with sweeping bridges and twinkling city lights reflected in the water, it's got a brash big-city charm. While all the high-rises, corporate banking offices and chain hotels sometimes make Jacksonville feel a bit soulless, its sweet Southern heart will reveal itself to the patient explorer.
Though most visitors see the city as merely a jumping-off spot for points further north or south, Jacksonville's museums and restored historic districts are worth a wander. The Five Points and San Marco neighborhoods are both charming, walkable areas lined with bistros, boutiques and bars, and feel worlds away from the buzzing downtown. The Jax beaches – a world unto themselves – are a half-hour drive from the city, much longer if there's traffic (and there's ALWAYS traffic in Jacksonville), so if the ocean's your main destination, plan on staying there.