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.
Local Experts | All Blogs
Blogs by Kacie Couch
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 Gary Sass
July 16, 2014 5:24 pm EDT
Where can you find the best volunteer lifeguards in the world? Just go to Jacksonville Beach and look for the iconic white tower (a.k.a. “The Peg”) along the ocean. This is home for the American Red Cross Life Saving Corps.
May 02, 2014 9:17 am EDT
May is a month teeming with excitement in Jacksonville. There are many historical events which happened in May and the weather is optimal for the outdoor celebrations.
April 04, 2014 2:19 pm EDT
One Spark, the World’s Crowdfunding festival, kicks off this year on Wednesday, April 9 for a five-day event. Within the participating 20 square blocks of Downtown, many One Spark venues are historic treasures. Here’s a few to enjoy as you support your favorite creators.
Blogs by Captain Dave Sipler
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 Denise Reagan
July 01, 2014 12:01 pm EDT
Theater is a serious year-round pastime in Northeast Florida.
May 29, 2014 5:06 pm EDT
My passion for the arts started as a child with frequent visits to Jacksonville museums, theaters, and other cultural institutions. I can’t wait to share all the great cultural activities going on throughout Northeast Florida.
Blogs by Void Magazine
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 our hand. This list will be your locally-brewed beer guide for the summer, no matter the occasion.