East of downtown Jacksonville proper, a string of dives and taco shacks provides just the right kind of beach drinking refuge.
Jacksonville proper sits along St. Johns River, giving it the water so closely associated with the city but separating the heart of the city from the Atlantic Ocean and its string of closely bundled beaches. A 20-minute drive due east opens up an array of options, stretching from an area perceptively named The Beaches just south of Atlantic Beach down to Jacksonville Beach a bit further down the coast. Though these beach towns don’t rival nearby Daytona in name recognition, flying just a little further under the radar is welcome as it comes with reduced crowds populated more frequently by locals.
Of course, no string of beaches is safe from tourist traps and overpriced steakhouses that live on Midwesterners fleeing freezing temperatures, but living outside of the limelight stolen by Dayton, Destin, Miami and any number of other destinations deeper into Florida does have its perks. Along this well-connected stretch, diners, brunch spots, breweries and dive bars have mixed well with the surf shops and trendy seafood joints that are to be expected in an area like this.
And if all of that doesn’t sell this itinerary well enough, just know that it features a dive bar haunted by the mermaid show burlesque dancer that used to own the joint. Eyes on a swivel.