Jacksonville Beach, Family Vacation
As expected, moving from Florida to Georgia has been a huge adjustment. The thing I miss the most is that Florida living feeling. It is hard to describe if you have never lived there but knowing you are just a stone’s throw away from the beach, springs, and all the things that make Florida living awesome is, well, AWESOME! My husband and I were craving a beach trip and being a Floridian, the thought of going to the hot beach in August was not ideal. But I am down for any opportunity for a vacation, especially if it involves the sun on my face and my toes in the sand.
We threw a few ideas back and forth, and settled on Jacksonville Beach because the hubby happened to have a work trip planned and anytime we can combine the two, it makes vacations more feasible when traveling as a family of four.
Ironically, Jax Beach was the first overnight beach trip we took our first daughter on. So I was excited to take our youngest daughter for her first overnight beach stay — at the same location and hotel, for that matter.
We drove down from the Atlanta, GA area and the trip was about six hours. For a change of scenery, we drove the long way. Overall, the drive wasn't bad and we were all super excited to get to the beach and relax!
The hotel was the Courtyard Jacksonville Beach Oceanfront; a hotel we stayed at before as a family and my hubby frequented for work when we lived in Florida. One of the things I love about this hotel is the rooms have a couch/sitting area and a dry bar with a mini fridge. This is ideal for having a family in one room, and for saving money by going to the grocery store and stocking the fridge with snacks and drinks for the beach and lunchtime.
The bathroom in our hotel room had a little nook that our Guava Family Lotus Crib fit perfectly! Because of this we could put the baby to sleep in the bathroom without it being too much in the way of the essential bathroom stuff, like the sink and toilet. When I travel with my children, I am always extra excited when there is a space to tuck the travel crib away from the main room. That way I can put the baby to bed and stay up as late as I like.
There also was a balcony, so when we put our oldest daughter to bed, we slipped outside for some adult time without keeping her up in the room. Our oldest slept on the couch the first night and then asked to sleep on her travel cot the rest of the week. Again, the room was spacious so there was plenty of room for the cot at the foot of our bed.
The hotel is beachfront and has a good size pool and hot tub that are great to float around in after a day on the beach. They also have a Tiki Bar next to the pool, and lobby bar next to the front desk that both serve food.
For breakfast, we ate at the hotel the first day and it was your typical hotel breakfast — “not bad,” with a great beach view. The rest of the trip we walked up the street to The Metro Diner, a Jax Beach breakfast spot favorite and Food Channel spotlight diner. The food is classic diner breakfast with a twist and the service is always great. We recommend going on a weekday because there is no wait. Saturdays and Sundays they are busy, busy, BUSY.
For lunch, we ate sandwiches on the beach mostly but we did meet friends at TacoLu restaurant and it was SUPER yummy. It is on Beach Blvd. just before you get to A1A. The atmosphere is a very fun rustic Mexican theme, and the food was delicious. More than your typical Mexican restaurant menu so it is a nice change from your typical Mexican restaurant. The only downside is they don’t have margaritas.
For dinner, we went to a Mexican restaurant by the pier and it was nothing to write home about. We looked for ocean front dinner spots but Jacksonville Beach does not have many waterfront options. On a side note for those planning a trip the Jacksonville Beach Pier: there is a small entry fee even just to walk on the pier. We also met friends at an Intracoastal spot, Palm Valley. It had a fun atmosphere, live music, and was a good spot for big kids to run around and play.
Another restaurant we went to for dinner was SaltLife Food Shack — yes like the car stickers. The restaurant was very well decked out and felt like a perfect beach vacation dinner spot, and the food was good, too. Personally, I thought the atmosphere alone made it worth the visit. Made me feel like I was on the Florida East Coast and reminded me of Indialantic, my former home.
Like on all our beach holidays, there needs to be at least one Ice Cream shop trip. So for this vacation, we went to Rita’s with my parents. It was so yummy, even the baby got to enjoy some ice cream with us. Needless to say, she loved it!
Overall, Jacksonville Beach, Fla., is a great spot for a summer beach trip. The water is warm and the beaches are not crowded in August. Our daughters loved playing in the sand and our oldest enjoyed body surfing the small waves.