A LGBTQ+ Traveler Guide to Jacksonville

Along the eastern coast of the United States, Jacksonville is the gateway to Florida, but to its LGBTQ+ visitors it is the gayway to Florida and has become the destination, instead of just part of the journey.

There are many places to visit from natural attractions, like some of the most beautiful beaches and some of the off the beaten path parks, to a beautiful and thriving downtown skyline, with stunning architecture and without the heavy traffic, to eclectic shopping areas to some of the most enchanting street art, JAX has a spot to make you feel like you belong.

Your First-Time

If you are planning a first-time visit to JAX, you can arrange to fly into JAX Airport, you can cruise into Jaxport Cruise Terminal, arrive by train, bus or driving. There are also lots of RV Camping spots, if this is how you are traveling. Regardless of how you arrive, be open to new adventures and leave your worries at home. A car is a must in this city, due to its large size.

What to pack?

• If traveling in the summer months: shorts, t-shirts, comfortable shoes, flipflops, sunblock, and casual/chic wear – the temperature during the day can rise up to the 90s Fahrenheit or 32+ Celsius

• If traveling in the fall months: all of the above, plus a light jacket and sweats, don’t be fooled – the mornings might be chilly but the afternoons are delightful

• If traveling in the winter months: all of the above, a heavier jacket and maybe a fashionable scarf or two – the temperature can dip to mid 30s Fahrenheit or around 0 in Celsius

Where do I go?

JAX can be easily divided into 6 subsections, which can help you to determine where you want to stay and what you want to do: Northside, Westside, Downtown & Riverside Avondale, Arlington, Southside and the Beaches. Jacksonville does not have an official gayborhood, but Five Points in the Riverside Avondale area near Downtown is the closest due to the number of restaurants, shops and bars and the many rainbow flags proudly displayed.

Once you figure out where you will spend most of your time, you can begin to look for a place near that area to sleep. There are some boutique hotel options available. We recommend looking for hotel chains that advertise directly to the LGBTQ+ community, that way you know your dollars are going to businesses that truly desire our buying power.

Downtown/Riverside Avondale


The heart of Jacksonville, where tall corporations’ buildings dress the skyline, known for its historic neighborhoods and what can be considered the unofficial gayborhood – Five Points.

Where to stay?

Hilton Garden Inn Jacksonville Downtown Southbank: 1201 Kings Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207, (904) 396-6111

Southbank Hotel Jacksonville Riverwalk: 1515 Prudential Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32207, (904) 396-5100

Homewood Suites by Hilton Jacksonville Downtown-Southbank: 1201 Kings Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207, (904) 396-6888

What to do?

Plenty to do in Five Points, find a centralized parking spot and walk around, visit the many shops, antiques stores, bar and restaurants. Great to do with friends, alone or family.

Home to JASMYN – the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, which has been supporting the LGBTQ youth in Jacksonville for over 25 years. Take a tour, lend a hand.

A must-visit is The Cummer Museum of Arts & Gardens, this beautiful art museum is the former estate of The Cummers and it’s named after them. 2021 will be the launch of their Pride talk events, because all art is a little queer!

Home to the few gay bars left, straight allies always welcome:

InCahoots: 711 Edison Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204
Metro: 859 Willow Branch Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205
Park Place Lounge: 931 King St, Jacksonville, FL 32204

Where to eat/shop?

Plenty of antique stores, our favorites are:

  • The Antique Emporium: 2762 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32205
  • Fans & Stoves Antique Mall, which sells more than just fans and stoves: 800 Lomax St, Jacksonville, FL 32204

Coliseum of Comics: a must visit for any LGBTQ geek and collectors: 2724 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32205
Black Sheep Restaurant – very welcoming casual eatery place: 1534 Oak St, Jacksonville, FL 32204
Arepa Please – Venezuelan arepas, food and fun: 474 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32202

Beaches

For many a paradise and some call it home, but all who visit agree that the beaches are a huge part of Jacksonville’s economy, as visitors flock from all over the world to enjoy relaxation and sun nearly year-round. Hotel prices can be a bit more expensive in this area, because location, location, location!

Where to stay?

Hampton Inn Jacksonville Beach/Oceanfront: 1515 1st St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, (904) 241-2311

Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beachfront: 11 1st St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, (904) 435-3535

What to do?

With almost 8 months of sunshine, and over 22 miles of beaches, there are plenty of options to enjoy the sun.

During the cold months, the beach is still there with some great festivals of lights in the evening for the holidays.

Where to eat/shop?

There are plenty of shopping options near the beaches, from comics to local souvenirs, you are sure to find it all.

Arlington

Very rich in history, economically has been through a lot, but continues to thrive and its businesses are as diverse as its population

Where to stay?

Courtyard by Marriott Jacksonville I-295/East Beltway: 9815 Lantern St, Jacksonville, FL 32225, (904) 247-6782
Hampton Inn Jacksonville East Regency Square: 1021 Hospitality Ln, Jacksonville, FL 32225, (904) 722-8881

What to do?

The Fort Caroline National Memorial, which is a replica of an original Fort built by the French over 500 years ago.
Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, 120 acres of rustic trails, sure to connect you with nature.

Where to eat/shop?

Plenty of international options and local food chains
Los Andes Restaurant – Peruvian & Argentinian food: 10916 Atlantic Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
Blue Orchid Thai Cuisine – Thai food: 13475 Atlantic Blvd #32, Jacksonville, FL 32225

Dillard's Clearance Center – if you are looking for fashion on a budget this is the place to shop: 9501 Arlington Expy, Jacksonville, FL 32225

Northside

It’s where JAX airport and Jaxport Cruise Terminal can be found, also home to the Timucuan Ecological and History Preserve, as well as the Whitehouse Field US Naval Air Station.


Where to stay?

Hilton Garden Inn Jacksonville Airport: 13503 Ranch Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32218, (904) 421-2700

Aloft Jacksonville Airport: the newest addition, steps from River City Center Marketplace - 751 Skymarks Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32218, (904) 714-3800

Hyatt Place Jacksonville Airport: 14565 Duval Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32218, (904) 741-4184

What to do?


The Kingsley Plantation – the last standing plantation in the US, also the most progressive of its kind during its heyday
The Catty Shack – a wildlife sanctuary mainly for big cats
The Jacksonville Zoo – especially good to experience with your spouse and the kids. It’s best known for being the only safari walk in Northeast Florida.

Where to eat/shop?

River City Marketplace – outdoor shopping mall, providing everything from groceries, to clothes, to furniture.
• You will also find plenty of dining options from fast food to elegant sit-down restaurants. Here are some of our favorites:
Green Papaya – Asian/Thai food, 13141 City Station Dr #149, Jacksonville, FL 32218
New Berlin Fish House & Oyster Bar, 604 New Berlin Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32218
FujiYama - Japanese food, hibachi tables & specialty sushi rolls, 13141 City Station Dr Ste. 153, Jacksonville, FL 32218

Southside


Highly developed area of Jacksonville, great shopping areas, including the two must visit malls: St. Johns Town Center and The Avenues Mall, lots of dining and fun adventures as well

Where to stay?
Tru by Hilton Jacksonville South Mandarin: 2970 Hartley Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32257, (904) 292-4401
Residence Inn by Marriott Jacksonville Butler Boulevard: 10551 Deerwood Park Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32256, (904) 996-8900
Hyatt Place Jacksonville / St. Johns Town Center: 4742 Town Center Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32246, (904) 641-7200

What to do?

Home to the University of North Florida, with over 1400 beautiful acres, including an ecological park – this is a must visit.

Jacksonville’s LGBTQ Center is located in the southside and provides resources such as: food pantry, trainings/workshops on LGBTQ issues, free condoms and lube, free HIV/STI testing, scholarships and much more. Stop by, take a tour, lend a hand.

Where to eat/shop?


Say So Sweets Filipino and Hawaiian Bakery: 11757 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32246
5th Element Indian Restaurant: 9485 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256
Sabor Mix Restaurant – Peruvian food: 11757 Beach Blvd Ste 1, Jacksonville, FL 32246

Town Center is a must visit for all of your shopping needs, from groceries to art galleries, to a PGA store. It is divided into several outdoor malls and you will need to drive to all of them. Across from this huge outdoor shopping mall, you will find more stores, hotels, apartment buildings, and more restaurants.

The Avenues is an indoor mall, with over 1 million square feet of shopping opportunities. Seasonally, they also host outdoor carnivals.

Westside


It’s west of downtown, with heavily unpopulated areas, which allows for plenty of time with nature, also a great spot for skydiving.

Where to stay?

Hilton Garden Inn Jacksonville Orange Park: a little bit south of the westside, but close enough to all the action in Jacksonville - 145 Park Ave, Orange Park, FL 32073, (904) 458-1577
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Jacksonville West/Chaffee Point: 561 Chaffee Point Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221, (904) 693-4400


What to do?

The Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail – 8.5 miles of an abandoned railroad corridor in its former life, is now used as a hiking site, bikers and rollerbladers seem drawn to this area, with plenty of wildlife, an equestrian trail can also be found here. This can be fun to experience with friends or family.

Boot Rack Saloon – gay bar: 4751 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205

Where to eat/shop?

Famous Jamaican Jerk Seafood – Jamaican food, mainly take-out, 7945 103rd St, Jacksonville, FL 32210
El Mofongo – Dominican/Cuban comfort food, mainly take-out, 6011 103rd St #11, Jacksonville, FL 32210



Most Pride events take place in October, which is LGBTQIA+ History Month, but also due to the extreme heat. However, there are several new events popping up during the month of June to celebrate Pride month. Here are a few of this year’s highlights:

LGBTQ Film Festival – Many Sides of Pride: June 3 to 6 at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA): 333 N Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

Drag Queen Brunch – Be True, Be Proud, Be Brave: hosted by the LGBTQ Center on June 6 at the Jacksonville Public Main Library– bottom floor: 303 N Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

So, if you are visiting JAX for the weekend, or looking for your next home, there are so many things to do, places to visit, new adventures and experiences. Although, JAX can be very welcoming and inclusive, it is still the south, so just always keep that in mind. Dating apps can be used to meet the locals and find out what is happening in town, with so many different events going on at the same time, sometimes it’s best to find out from a local what is the best option for your particular taste.

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