The Westside & Orange Park
The Westside provides convenient access to the water for boating and fishing enthusiasts.
The 3-mile-long Buckman Bridge across the St. Johns River links Mandarin with The Westside. With its beginnings dating back to 1763, The Westside area features waterfront mansions, Tudor-style homes, and modest wooden-frame houses dating back to the early 1900s. The Westside is well-known for its full-service marinas like The Marina at Ortega Landing, nautical outfitters, and boating facilities. It is also the home of Naval Air Station Jacksonville the birthplace of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s world-renowned flight demonstration team.
The Ortega community is one of the wealthiest in the nation. Come to Ortega for a stroll along the St. Johns River and take in what many consider to be the best views of the Downtown skyline.
Just south of Jacksonville and west of the St. Johns River, Orange Park offers camping, hiking, and water activities for all. In need of a boat, rent one for the day or for the night with Boat Florida Rentals. The Orange Park area is home to Doctor's Lake and Black Creek providing boaters the perfect place to wakeboard, fish, or just relax on the water. If you're feeling lucky, try and pick a winner at the The Poker Rooms at Orange Park Kennel Club.
Here are four Westside attractions you just can't miss.
1. Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Regarded as one of the best equestrian centers on the East coast, Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a premiere facility for regional and national events showcasing the best in horse competitions. When horse shows are not in town, the Equestrian Center hosts a wide range of entertainment events like concerts, mud-runs, and athletic competitions.
2. Rails and Trails
Once part of Naval Air Station's Cecil Field, this trail system includes more than 30 miles of unpaved roads that traverse through the pine flatwoods. The shaded and beautiful Cecil Recreational Trails are available to hikers, horseback riders, and off-road cyclists. The Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail, is part of a nation-wide, federally initiated “Rails to Trails” program. The Trail is a 100 foot wide Right-of-Way (ROW) currently extending approximately 14.5 miles from Imeson Road in Jacksonville to the Town of Baldwin. A 12’ wide paved trail currently exists for hikers, bikers and roller-bladers to enjoy. An equestrian trail also parallels the paved trail.
3. Herlong Airport
Skydiving anyone? Who wouldn't want to see Jacksonville from 10,000 feet? Home to Jacksonville’s aviation enthusiasts since the 1960s, Herlong Recreational Airport (HEG) is Northeast Florida’s primary location for light sport aircraft, skydiving, gliders, and other experimental aircraft.
4. Pinglehead Brewing Company
Pinglehead Brewing Company has been serving the Jacksonville and Orange Park community since 2011. Their craftsmen make BIG BEER, full of flavor with the best ingredients money can buy. They call it “Beer with Attitude!” and are committed to creating beer that will always be made with quality ingredients and our strong commitment to the craft! It will never be rushed. Do you collect tap handles; purchase a Pinglehead handle before leaving the brewery!
Head south on Interstate 1-95, follow directions for I-295 west over the Buckman Bridge. From there you can exit on Roosevelt Blvd. or Blanding Blvd. for Orange Park or continue on 1-295 for the rest of the area.
Blogs by Gary Sass
June 25, 2015 2:57 pm EDT
This year’s Downtown Fourth of July celebration and fireworks display is on the actual anniversary, Saturday July 4, 2015.
June 16, 2015 11:49 am EDT
Walk into Downtown Jacksonville’s Merrill House and step back in time to the year 1903
April 09, 2015 3:47 pm EDT
If the Riverside neighborhood of Jacksonville had a greeting card, the Riverdale Inn would be on the cover
December 01, 2014 11:47 am EST
The local historical societies celebrate the holidays and offer fun activities. It is also a chance to buy unique gifts for history buffs.
November 05, 2014 3:12 pm EST
We call it the “First Coast”, home of the first European settlements and a region steeped in history.
Blogs by Patty
March 27, 2015 1:22 pm EDT
Whether you’re looking for a family friendly spring-break destination, or the ideal spot for a quick fun getaway, Jacksonville has the perfect mix of Florida Flair, Southern Hospitality, and exciting festivals to put a spring in your step this new season!
March 10, 2015 1:22 pm EDT
Running. You either love it or you hate it, but sometimes you hate a little less and get the inspiration you need from a city and its running paths.
February 06, 2015 7:01 pm EST
Every day can be Valentine's Day, create your perfect romantic getaway to Jacksonville, the “River City by the Sea.” Whether you’re looking for romantic strolls on the beach, candlelit dinners, or an eco-adventure for two, couples can craft a picture-perfect time together in Jax!
October 20, 2014 10:17 am EDT
Unless you’re an expert on our fine city (and who knows, you might be - it is pretty awesome here) here are some things you probably didn’t know about Jacksonville, Florida.
August 08, 2014 1:10 pm EDT
Planning a getaway with your fam? Be sure you are prepared prior to departure!
Blogs by Denise M. Reagan
June 24, 2015 9:55 am EDT
Sometimes art wants to be set free. That’s the idea behind the worldwide Outings project, initiated by French visual artist and filmmaker Julien de Casabianca.
June 15, 2015 10:32 am EDT
Visit MOCA Jacksonville for a self-curated exhibition “Southern Exposure: Portraits of a Changing Landscape”.
June 01, 2015 9:55 am EDT
When you think about what’s happening under a bridge, storybook scenes of trolls might come to mind—or perhaps more sobering visions of seedier activity.
December 12, 2014 4:18 pm EST
Angela Strassheim creates images that are more like paintings than photographs. “I don’t take pictures. I make photographs,” Strassheim said. “Everything in a photograph is there because I decided it would be there.”
October 22, 2014 12:32 pm EDT
Artists have been working in the realist style for centuries. In this age of technology, what would inspire contemporary painters to embark on the painstaking process of creating art in this style?
Blogs by Becky
June 28, 2015 10:32 am EDT
Fireworks, fishing, festivals and fun abound this July in Jacksonville.
June 04, 2015 2:53 pm EDT
June in Jax is action packed. With the heartpumping speeds of powerboats zipping along the mighty St. Johns at the P1 Jacksonville Grand Prix and the aerial acrobatics performed by daring skateboarders in honor of Go Skate Day, there’s plenty of excitement to go around.
May 01, 2015 8:43 am EDT
There are plenty of reasons to visit Jacksonville in May. The weather is warm, the ocean is inviting, the flowers are in bloom, and the farm-to-table restaurants are getting ready to change their seasonal menus from Spring to Summer.
April 08, 2015 5:21 pm EDT
It’s no secret we love beer here in Jacksonville. With eight local breweries all part of the Jax Ale Trail, Jacksonville is one of Florida’s best spots to grab a pint (or two).
March 02, 2015 12:21 pm EST
Two of the greatest things about Jacksonville? Our weather and our food.
Blogs by Katie
November 01, 2013 4:13 pm EDT
Get Hooked on Fishing at Mayport! There’s no better way to see the beauty of Jacksonville’s beaches than to fish its waters – and no lack of opportunities to do it, either.
March 15, 2013 5:48 pm EDT
Has anyone ever said to you “What’s there to do in Jacksonville?” or “What makes Jax so special?”. Here's an easy answer...
November 20, 2012 4:43 pm EST
The Light Boat Parade is a uniquely Jacksonville experience and there's fireworks! Be sure to make plans to watch.
August 24, 2012 12:39 pm EDT
I love trying new things - why not clay shooting?
August 06, 2012 1:57 pm EDT
Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, a big cat rescue here in Jacksonville, is a great unique attraction, the likes of which I've never seen before. Read more.