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 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 Sarah
October 30, 2014 12:36 pm EDT
Take your pick between dozens of world-class golf courses throughout the Jacksonville area. Visit the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club or Windsor Parke, or venture out to the The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. Learn more about all the great places to golf near Jacksonville.
October 06, 2014 12:17 pm EDT
Fall is the perfect time for a Jacksonville, Florida inshore fishing trip. Read Captain Dave Sipler's tips for a fun and successful fall fishing trip!
September 23, 2014 12:36 pm EDT
From easy to hard, historic to championship, beach to river – Northeast Florida offers more than 1,200 holes of golf on 70 public and private courses, pristine course conditions, affordable rates, great fall deals and comfortable weather all year.
August 31, 2014 1:14 pm EDT
Music, art, food, beer, sports, adventure, and fun await you in Jacksonville on any given day, and the best part? We guarantee it won’t break your bank!
August 19, 2014 12:47 pm EDT
Some people might call them fish shacks, holes in the wall, dives- but here in Jax we call them Fish Camps!
Blogs by First Coast Magazine
March 30, 2015 1:49 pm EDT
Take a leisurely stroll down St. Johns Avenue in Avondale, and you’re bound to find yourself peeking through the plate glass of Biscottis.
March 16, 2015 3:00 pm EDT
While growing up in Chicago, Chef DeJuan Roy knew what he wanted to do with his life. He spent his teens working in the kitchens of various restaurants, and joined the Army as a cook.
March 12, 2015 2:22 pm EDT
Local speakeasy features old-school spirits and sounds.
January 22, 2015 10:05 am EST
Scott Meyer operates the nation’s smallest rice farm. It’s the only one in Jacksonville. And he’s fairly certain it’s the only one in Florida.
July 21, 2014 9:32 pm EDT
Almost 100 years ago in a community rich with potato farming tradition, but light on technology, Danny Johns’ great-grandfather pioneered the first horseless farm in Hastings.
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.