At a whopping 840 sq miles, Jacksonville is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States and the most populous in Florida. Sprawling along three meandering rivers, with sweeping bridges and twinkling city lights reflected in the water, it has a brash big-city charm. While its high-rises, corporate HQs and chain hotels can make Jacksonville feel a little soulless, its sweet Southern heart will reveal itself to the patient explorer.
Although to most visitors, Jacksonville (Jax) is an arrival or departure point for destinations further north or south, the city's museums and restored historic districts are worth a wander if you have the time. 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 Jacksonville area beaches – a world unto themselves – are 30 to 50 minutes' drive from the city, depending on traffic and where you're coming from. Unless you need to be in the city, we recommend staying by the beach for its slower pace and all that space: you can always day-trip downtown, if you fancy.