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 Becky
March 02, 2015 12:21 pm EST
Two of the greatest things about Jacksonville? Our weather and our food.
February 03, 2015 9:47 pm EST
It’s easy to see why Jacksonville is a top destination for arts and culture. Everywhere you look you see art, museums, music venues.
February 02, 2015 9:08 am EST
Renovation, Reuse and Revitalization – those are the words to define Jacksonville’s up and coming restaurant scene.
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.
Blogs by Captain Dave Sipler
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 Denise M. Reagan
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?
October 16, 2014 1:45 pm EDT
A small theater in the heart of the Five Points neighborhood has made a big impact on Jacksonville’s movie tastes.
September 30, 2014 12:05 pm EDT
MOCA Jacksonville ‘Project Atrium’ artist explores the mind’s circuitry in a monumental textile installation
September 22, 2014 2:05 pm EDT
Pick a day and a neighborhood and you’ll find a place to absorb local art.
Blogs by Gary Sass
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 the lovers of history.
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.
October 10, 2014 2:56 pm EDT
The most spectacular annual air show is right here in Jacksonville.
August 13, 2014 11:05 am EDT
“On location in Jacksonville”, has been part of movie production history for over one hundred years. From the silent movie era to today’s modern films, it is entertaining to watch scenes with Jacksonville in the background.
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.