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 bestbet Orange Park.
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 Denise M. Reagan
July 06, 2015 12:00 pm EDT
A terrarium is an apt metaphor for what’s happening in Hemming Park.
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.”
Blogs by Kacie Couch
July 30, 2014 5:02 pm EDT
When you think of a pink bird, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For most people, it would be a flamingo. The flamingo is a very beautiful (and very pink) bird, but it is not a local species to say the least. Lucky for us, we have our own species of pink bird wading in our North Florida waters!
May 29, 2014 4:56 pm EDT
“What a strange looking bird!” exclaimed the bearded man as we looked up at the helicopter flying overhead. It was a beautiful day in July and we were standing outside. I was wearing a sundress that came down to my knees and he was decked out in a woolen long-sleeved uniform. In JULY… In Florida. This was right after he called me a “jezebel,” no less.
Blogs by Void Magazine
September 12, 2014 3:08 pm EDT
Jacksonville boasts plenty of delicious farmers markets. So get out there and support your local farms with this guide to regional markets.
September 12, 2014 2:49 pm EDT
Over the past two years, Shad Khan and the leadership of the Jacksonville Jaguars have made extensive efforts to transform the team from relative obscurity (for those outside Duval) into one of the most visible franchises in the league.
July 10, 2014 4:55 pm EDT
Out with the old, in with the bold! Bold Bean Coffee Roasters has just opened its second location in South Jacksonville Beach, ironically where the old Starbucks was located. Bold Bean specializes in handmade, single-origin coffee, espresso beverages, craft beer and a community-orientated atmosphere.
June 10, 2014 5:31 pm EDT
What makes a restaurant romantic? If you’re not sure, you probably ought to ask someone female. When I asked my husband for his suggestions for this article, he said, “Is Guzzle Pipes and Gutty Works open yet?” Having an excellent beer list is not usually high on the list of most women’s romance requirements.
June 02, 2014 12:02 pm EDT
We all love a nice summer night with friends and a cool beer in our hand. This list will be your locally-brewed beer guide for the summer, no matter the occasion.
Blogs by Captain Dave Sipler
April 21, 2015 11:44 am EDT
I hear it all the time. "We're coming to Jacksonville, staying at the beach, at a nice hotel with a fancy swimming pool, because the kids are out of school and wondered what else can we do with our kids?"
August 05, 2014 1:58 pm EDT
July was, and August will be too..... Teeth Month, aboard Capt Dave's Jettywolf. From Barracuda's to Sharks, it's all about "Sport Fishing" for the BIG ONES!
July 10, 2014 3:31 pm EDT
Hello Anglers! Summer has been here for quit a while in N.E. Florida. Most of you don't really care what month the calendar says. As a fisherman, I call it summer when the Spanish Mackerel show up at the inlet. And that happened back in May!
May 29, 2014 5:01 pm EDT
Hello Folks, Captain Dave Sipler here.....I'm going to tell you all about Jacksonville's fishing opportunities every month for the next six months.
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.